A request for training became a space for shifting culture


The Spring of 2020 saw a great opening in organizations across the U.S., as people responded to the sense of urgency for a shift toward racial justice. Often, in corporate-speak, this was expressed as a request for “training in DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).” In the case of this organization of about 40 employees—the desire had been growing for years, and was part of a larger conversation about the idea of “cultural fit” in hiring, the place of the company and its voice in taking a stand on societal injustice, and the rhythms of everyday acts of conversation and conduct.

Make room for a new story to emerge

What people call DEI is deeper than a set of behaviors—these issues touch on each person’s identity, the way we see ourselves and one another, the unexamined sources of our casual judgments and actions. DEI is cultural. And like any cultural shift, training plays an important role. But understanding alone is famously inadequate on its own for fostering behavior change.

Our approach is to “make space” for learning and development together: through a series of gatherings, conversations, provocations, trainings, and acts of reflection and co-creation, create a season of shared experience through which a new collective story can emerge.

Space:  Culture shift

Duration: 3 weeks

Setting: University campus

Cohort: 40 people representing all sectors of the school

After three weeks of listening and convening, administrators, students, faculty, and police gathered despite lack of trust and belief that “things will never change on campus.” In two hours many found common ground. In two days they saw their way forward, agreeing that “Yes, we can change this together.”

SpaceCulture ShiftDuration3 WeeksSettingUniversity campusOutcomeDiverse group sheds cynicism, begins movement of co-creationCohort40 people from all sectors of the school