Storysharing Workshops

Our project focuses on launching semi-annual cohorts of StorySharing workshops, initially targeted at workers in the technology industry within the Austin area. These workshops are designed to deepen understanding of the limitations inherent in current diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices. Specifically, we highlight that these practices are incomplete if they do not foster transferable skills that members of the group can use to benefit their larger communities. Additionally, they are ineffective if they do not aim for self-efficacy: a person cannot be made to belong; rather, they must actively seek belonging.


In a time when policymakers are polarizing Diversity and Equity, creating positions of exclusion (us vs. them), we’re offering a new approach: to start with Belonging.

Belonging has been identified as a fundamental human drive, like eating and sleeping. We’re hard wired to belong. We all need it. But we’re not all well-informed or confident about it


Stories are a fundamental human activity which originated as visual stories of shared experiences. Stories light up more areas of our brain than other forms of communication and stimulate oxytocin, a hormone that promotes social bonding and trust. Simply stated, sharing stories builds empathy, belonging, and collaboration.

The StorySharing workshops are about empowering the individual to build safe spaces of belonging through learning to share their stories… and to listen back.

To gauge the effectiveness of these workshops, we plan to conduct surveys at various intervals: before, immediately after, and at the 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180-day marks. The surveys aim to measure the impact of the workshops on both the workplace environment and, crucially, on the participants' ability to navigate their communities.

Our main thesis challenges the current approach to DEI. We believe that conventional DEI strategies place undue emphasis on organizations and groups, which inadvertently leads to the alienation of individuals. These strategies often prioritize intra-group dynamics at the expense of individuals' broader social interactions. Consequently, they result in narrowly focused programs that might benefit the organization but fail to resonate within the wider community.

We advocate for a more holistic approach that emphasizes 'belonging' - a concept that strikes a balance between inclusion and assimilation. This approach encourages self-efficacy in individuals, making them effective ambassadors of their organization’s values beyond the workplace. We posit that when individuals are equipped to engage with diverse identities universally, the entire community benefits. This is especially pertinent in the technology sector, where employee turnover typically occurs in less than 24 months, rendering organization-specific programs less effective.

The choice to focus on technology workers stems from their influential role in the industry. Tech companies are often at the forefront of developing DEI strategies but struggle with assessing their effectiveness. In a tech-centric city like Austin, these workers are seen as trendsetters for workplace practices, making them ideal participants for our workshops.

Participants will be engaged long-term through monthly newsletters and quarterly physical mail, for the purpose of long-term research. Data collected from each cohort will be used to run a study on attitudes towards these subjects and the effectiveness of our proposed solutions, which will in turn be refined for the next cohort. We expect to find, along the way, new approaches and themes to explore or new groups of interest outside technology or the Austin area (healthcare workers and educators are the first to come to mind), and our program will adjust accordingly.

After each cohort is completed, a video version will be produced and be made available online as a course, with allowances for deep discounts for students, nonprofits or other groups, to be evaluated on a case by case basis. This will allow our work to be widely available for the benefit of the public while building a moat for the most recent innovations offered at a premium, which in turn will fund the organization in the long term.