We’re excited to introduce you to some of the incredible DEI training facilitators that are part of the SGO team. We asked them to share what sparked their passion for this work, what DEI means to them, and why they do what they do. Meet Felicia Jadczak!
What does DEI mean to you?
I view these concepts as puzzle pieces. Each of them can operate independently, but together they address our hopes for a better world. DEI means that we can see true representation, that our differences don’t exclude us, and that each person can get what they need in order to give them the opportunity to succeed.
How do you come to this work? How did you learn it was necessary, and how did you get involved?
In a previous lifetime, I worked for VMware as a program manager. One of the programs that I was assigned to in 2012 was developing out what ultimately became VMware’s first ever employee resource group for their women engineers. At that time, there was little in the way of support or any type of playbook for this work. I started reading studies and papers, and conducting my own user-focused research groups. As I learned more, I started sharing my insights and findings with different teams and departments within the organization. The more involved I got, the more I realized how important it was to be addressing these issues, as well as sharing best practices so we could do better. That initial spark led me to ultimately address these issues on my own terms, as part of She+ Geeks Out. I’ve been facilitating in some fashion since 2012, and have been developing curriculum since 2016.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for teams when beginning DEI work, and how can they overcome it?
The biggest challenge that I see is with teams who view DEI as a side issue and choose to focus on product or revenue first, intending to ‘deal with DEI’ later. This framing of DEI as a ‘nice to have’ as opposed to an essential, is what leads to many of these same teams and organizations developing toxic practices and cultures. So, by the time they are ready to address DEI, their issues are much much worse. No matter where you are as a team or organization in your life cycle or maturity, there are practices you can implement immediately. Teams need to take a short-term as well as a long-term approach. The other major issue I tend to see is organizations that view DEI as a ‘check the box’ concern. These organizations don’t realize that all their problems won’t be solved with a simple training or lecture, and then get frustrated when they try to do just that and their efforts (naturally) fail. This is life-long work and takes constant repetitions of testing, trying out, measuring, assessing, readjusting, and trying out again.
What’s the most fulfilling experience you’ve had while doing this work?
I love when people have those ‘lightbulb moments’ during a workshop or consulting session. You can see the gears turning and clicking into place– that’s always a rewarding feeling.
What have you learned through your experiences in facilitating?
I’ve learned that there’s always something new to learn. One thing I tell all the groups that I facilitate for is, ‘I’m going to learn from you just as much as you’re going to hopefully learn from me.’ And, I mean it! Facilitating can be very much focused on teaching and education, but I view it as also (and maybe more importantly) about guiding discussions, steering people towards understanding, and acting as a container for difficult discussions. It’s not my job to unpack my own baggage with the groups I facilitate; it’s my job to help others come to a greater level of awareness than they had when we started out.
What is one of your favorite resources related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and why?
There are so many amazing resources out there these days. One resource I’ve been loving lately has been Nicole Cardoza’s Anti-Racism Daily newsletter. Check it out and give her a follow!
Learn more about the SGO team and our diversity, equity, and inclusion training offerings.
Now that you know more about our facilitators, learn more about working with us!