ikki Pardo says she’s turned tragedy into triumph. An incident where Pardo says she was racially discriminated against by a former employer inspired her to create the diversity training and consulting company Global Alliance Solutions.
“I started the company to prevent that from happening to anyone else, on either side: being an employee and being an employer,” Pardo says. “For my MBA, I had just written about a fictitious diversity training and consulting company, so I took it off the shelf, breathed life into and it’s taken on a life of its own – as corny as that sounds.”
Through her company, Pardo offers classes that she says are totally immersive and interactive.
“It’s definitely the furthest thing away from lecture based. It’s a diversity and tolerance experience,” Pardo says. “From the minute you’re sitting down, I have a lot of interactive activities, simulations. I do a labeling activity.”
The labeling activity in her workshops is one that she says can sometimes drum up emotions because it explores the feelings of being labeled and the act of labeling others.
“At the end we have something called reflection, so we talk about how it felt to be labeled and how it felt labeling,” Pardo says. “It kind of transitioned from that unconscious bias to actual conscious and expletive bias. It’s quite impactful.”
In the wake of recent police shootings this year, Pardo and her friend Jessica Meyers founded The Pack, a series of discussions centering on race and diversity that allow people in the community to engage in conversation in a safe space. Pardo says she got the idea after she attended multiple conversations about race that she felt were all missing a key component.
“I figured out what was missing was an actual call to action,” Pardo says. “Don’t just talk about it, but be about it.’”
In each session, the group of participants discusses their experiences with discrimination as well as timely issues like healing after the recent election – the topic from their November discussion. The group gets opportunities to discuss as a whole as well as in smaller groups for more intimate conversations.
At the end of each session, Pardo says the group develops and signs a community contract, welcoming new members into their “tribe” and instituting the call to action to better things in each member’s individual communities.
“We come back together in three months and we talk about successes, challenges and we also set up a Facebook page so you can give updates on your progress,” Pardo says. “Jessica and I are just working so hard to create a movement, so it’s not just a one-time thing.”
They held their first conversation in October at MASH Detroit. Pardo says registration for the free event filled up in less than 72 hours.
“Race is dangerous work. People have been killed, people have been mutilated, people have been jailed over race,” Pardo says. “So that’s why I’m extremely conscious about setting the tone of a safe space where you can have vulnerable and authentic conversations.”
Pardo and her co-founder are currently applying for grants in order to eventually take The Pack nationwide.
“The beauty of The Pack is it’s a model, and the model can be used in any city with any issue with relation to racial equality.”
The Pack holds regular conversations and workshops focusing on race in the Detroit area. For information about upcoming conversations, visit facebook.com/strengthofthepack.