Today we’d like to introduce you to Kausar Mohammed, Veline Mojarro and Natalie Bui.
Kausar, Veline and Natalie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a women of color living through Trump’s America and the #metoo movement you cannot help but feel like your personhood is under attack. And unsurprisingly, the desire to do something about it arises, fiercely. We were all doing diversity & inclusion / sexual harassment prevention work in our own professions – be it community engagement workshops, working with high school students, or producing video content, we have been committed to this work in many different capacities. We decided to bring all our super powers together and build Shift: Shifting the culture of complacency. A take on this work that was uniquely us – fun and relevant, constantly contextualizing ourselves and systems of accountability in the bigger picture of our culture.
Has it been a smooth road?
We launched our business in February 2018. Since then, we have realized the increasing need and interest in our fresh take on diversity & inclusion / sexual harassment prevention.
One of our strengths are working together. We take pride in being a women owned-business, with self-care and preservation at its core. To be in constant development with a group could potentially be a struggle, but with each other it’s a joy. At the start of every meeting we check in, give ourselves time to be present and connect as real people, not just business partners – we then continue on to our agendas to accomplish more than any other team would because we allow ourselves to work from a synchronized human, heart-space. We know this can sound hippie dippy for the corporate world, but it works. We are committed and efficient in our work because we have committed to taking the time to create humanizing space for ourselves.
For us, an obstacle has been locking down clientele. As any other new business, it is about networking, creating contacts, and marketing. People are interested in hearing about diversity & inclusion training and sexual harassment prevention because they see how detrimental it can be to not have it – the repercussions are loud and unforgiving. But not many people are willing to put money behind it, sadly it is not always a priority. We have full faith that we can change that through the initial consultation we provide – but getting our foot in the door is the biggest challenge.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We offer diversity and inclusion training. That means we give workshops and consultations in topics like Race, Power, Privilege 101; Racial Bias; Inclusive Language; and Solidarity Building. In addition, we offer sexual harassment prevention services. From a HR angle – that means we offer the mandated training necessary by state law to prevent any issues in your workplace or organization. However, what we bring to the table is an intersectional, interactive, dialogue based approach to understanding sexual harassment and other tough conversations- which we believe is essential to truly combatting it. So many companies rely on online training for their sexual harassment training, we believe it is necessary to have open dialogue, active exercises, and embodied learning about power, gender, and privilege within it to really understand what sexual harassment entails.
A niche that we have found ourselves diving towards is working in higher education and start up spaces. We are excited to have teamed up with SpeakOut Now, a social justice org geared towards linking activists with higher education for presentations. We find that many universities have recognized the need to work with their incoming freshman class and set the stage for an inclusive and equitable environment. We assist with that in our presentations for campuses.
We also pride ourselves as approaching our work from an artistic lens. We all have our own creative outlets. Natalie uses her sketches and drawings to advocate for social justice through an Asian-American lens. Veline is a trained actress and a Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner. Kausar is a producer of various digital content linked to social activism and comedy. We bring that into the room with us. We bring the desire to connect with people beyond PowerPoint presentations and handouts – and know that for change to happen it needs to occur on a visceral, human to human level. And we do all we can to approach these practices of diversity and inclusion / sexual harassment prevention on a humanizing and relatable level.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Online training is not enough. As wonderful as technology is, it cannot substitute the human presence and dialogue necessary to make the change that is needed when learning about sexual harassment prevention and diversity and inclusion.
Racism, sexism, or any other -ism, is never simple. And by pretending that we can understand it through a checklist of right/and wrongs is what has kept us from fully addressing the issues for so long. Truly acknowledging the subjects requires a deep, complex study into history and our own socially customized patterns. And that takes an in-person educational experience – not a laptop.
In addition, we are curious about the opportunity for diversity work within Visual Reality. We are currently working with a VR designer and developing a curriculum, based on VR strategy and technology that would allow the viewer to wear a headset and experience a different reality. For example, putting on a VR headset to experience what it’s like being catcalled as woman. But in doing so, we are treading with great caution. We don’t want it to create an experience of exploitation or “poverty porn” – where people feel like they completely understand someone else’s identity and existence just because they wore the VR glasses for 5 minutes. It is important to us to really define the complexity the experience and use it as an example within our overall curriculum and not as a clutch. At the end of the day, there is nothing more powerful than being present with another person and discussing the issues at hand with them.
- Website: www.shiftingculture.co
- Phone: (323) 238 – 9217
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @shiftingtheculture
CSU Maritime – Unity Council
UCLA Alumni Association – Diversity Affairs