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Healing Horizons: How to Cultivate Safe Spaces for Marginalized Identities

  • Earica Parrish
  • September 15, 2023

NVE’s second-annual company retreat sought to foster deeper connections amongst team members across three days in San Diego. 

To further the company’s goals in building more equitable experiences for its employees, NVE hosted its first-ever in person Inclusive Learning Lab. The quarter three installment of the Inclusive Learning Lab allowed our NVE community to step into a space dedicated to nourishing our spirit and learning how to create safe spaces for our community, especially those who identify as being part of a historically marginalized group. 

Our guest speaker, N. Oumou Sylla, LMFT (Name/She/They), guided our employees through an illuminating conversation, taking a revolutionized and empathetic approach to unravel the complexities surrounding mental health, self-preservation in the workplace, and how restorative practices can be implemented in order to sustain employee retention and engagement. 

When thinking about creating safe spaces in the workplace for employees, relationship-building is pivotal in doing so.  According to the  International Institute for Restorative Practices, it is defined as a “a field within the social sciences that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals as well as social connections within communities.” Used amongst indigenous and other culturally diverse groups for conflict resolution and solution-based learning, restorative practices support in evolving the ways in which employees from all levels of leadership and management evaluate the best means of connecting with their team in order to create a safe, human-centered workplace. 

The Restorative Lab identifies a few ways in which restorative practices can show up in the workplace, including (but not limited to):

  • Listening and acknowledging team members when they’re sharing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns (practicing emotional intelligence)
  • Bringing people together that may be affected by a similar issue in order to address it, and find solutions and remove barriers
  • Promoting learning and shared responsibility

Mental health and wellness is tied  to how safe and functional one feels in the workplace. With NVE being a remote-first company, Sylla encouraged employees to think deeply about the ways in which they can assess their own personal and professional needs in the virtual space.  This sparked a meaningful dialogue between employees on some of the challenges they face with their mental health, societal issues affecting local and global communities, and how one’s identity can affect the way in which they are perceived and treated. Each team member gave open and honest thoughts, while everyone actively listened and responded with respect. 

“Getting to witness Brett [the founder and CEO of NVE] listen to and respond to people was inspiring and gave me hope for the founders and leaders of other companies,” says Sylla. “The work of supporting employees of the Global Majority (especially those that are queer and disabled) can’t be a side project, it needs to be a part of the bottom line and NVE appears to be making commitments to doing just that.” 

From the discussion, we shared tools and methods for ways in which the company can improve upon its efforts in addressing issues head on, sharing the resources available at the agency to support employees with their mental health and well being, as well as the ways in which we all incorporate pleasure and play in our day-to-day lives. 

Additional Resources for Reference

Earica Parrish
Strategist, Inclusive Marketing
A creative multi-hyphenate who works to inspire others, incite change, and promote artistic values. An extensive background in writing, design, digital strategy, content production, guest services and community engagement.