On Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

Nevien Shaabneh Chicago

Diversity, inclusion and equity is integral not only to the success of every organization public or private, but to our society as a whole. With a growing and more diversified workplace, changes in market trends, and an ever evolving global market, diversity and inclusion training is a pertinent step for any organization's success. One of the most important aspects of my job as a trainer is helping organizations understand the insurmountable benefits of an inclusive and equitable environment. I work closely with clients to tailor each presentation to the needs of their organization, to their organizational goals, and together we plan a course for success.

I know the decision to bring in a trainer can be overwhelming. People’s experiences and areas of expertise range. I pride myself on creating an environment that is welcoming of questions, ideas, and differing perspectives. Clients place their trust in me to discuss sensitive topics and foster change, and I do not take this responsibility lightly. I believe in a more personal, tailored approach vs. a uniform presentation because people matter—not just the numbers and research behind them.

There is no magic wand when it comes to diversity work. It takes communication, trust, and fact-based approaches embedded in best practices to help foster change. It takes a skilled trainer to cultivate a comfortable environment, establish rapport in a limited amount of time, and convey a transparent purpose that aligns with an organization’s mission.

Whether you are looking to train employees for the goal of ethical practices, employee climate, and cultural understanding or to foster employee harmony, professional relationship building, and equitable practices, diversity, inclusion, and equity work contributes not only to productivity and innovation that increases the bottom line, but it also solidifies your organization’s long-term goals for sustainability and success.

No training is better than poor training. I understand the skepticism that surrounds diversity training that is why every session comes with a no "fluff" policy. Information is always applicable, informative, based on research and best practices, and one that fosters tangible change.

On Writing

In many of my presentations, I discuss the importance of “passing the mic” or “creating a seat at the table” to foster discourse about the importance of storytelling. At the heart of inclusive practices, is listening to others, providing opportunities for other narratives to be heard, and most importantly, for people to share their stories. I do not know anything more humane, more empathetic, more loving, more effective, more efficient, than creating a space for people to share their narratives.

The essence of storytelling not only resides in the magical nature of the imagination, but also in the depths of human experience whether imagined or one’s own. The story is not always pretty, but the emotional journey can be beautiful. In this matter, each book is an invitation welcoming readers to share their stories, to listen to others, to create spaces where discourse and education are the weapons of choice in the face of hatred and bigotry.

Many readers have read this invitation and reached out to me from all parts of the world sharing not only their reactions but also their personal journeys. There is no better compliment than a reader who cares deeply about your story. I am so grateful for the amount of love and support I have received. As much as my words have touched their lives, their words of love and support have touched mine.

For these reasons, I continue to write.

- Nevien Shaabneh