August 1 2023

Achieve DEI Learning Series helps employers strengthen mentoring skills and create more inclusive workplaces

Shamayne Braman and Abdul Omari

Are you an employer who wants to build stronger relationships with your interns, mentees or teams to ensure that they feel valued, heard and respected? Are you interested in strengthening inclusivity across your organization?

With a commitment to creating the best possible on-the-job experience for interns who are participating in the Step Up Youth Employment Program and Achieve College Internships, Achieve Twin Cities recently hosted three virtual training sessions for supervisors, managers and mentors. Our goal was to give participants the opportunity to learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) from experts in the field, and provide an opportunity for conversations and additional learning in breakout discussions.

If you were unable to join us, we invite you to learn more about our three sessions here. We'll share some highlights and tips that you might find helpful and can utilize in your workplace. We hope to inspire you to embrace cultural interaction and foster inclusion, and recognize and welcome the new energy, perspectives and ideas that interns can bring into the workplace. 

Meet Our Session Presenters

Our first DEI session presenter was Shamayne Braman, chief people officer at Sonos, Inc., where she leads the company’s recruitment, development, engagement and retention strategies in addition to cultivating the Sonos culture across 15 offices globally. Shamayne also directs diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for Sonos, championing strategies and initiatives across people, products and policies that embrace diversity, foster inclusion, and fuel business outcomes. Shamayne also serves as vice chair of the Achieve Twin Cities board of directors. 

Abdul M. Omari, PhD, led our second and third sessions. Abdul is in the business of human connection and is the founder of AMO Enterprise, which focuses on leadership development and the inseparable ties to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He is chair of the Achieve Twin Cities board of directors. 

Session #1 Overview: Mentorship and Relationship-Building with Shamayne Braman

Internships provide valuable work and learning experiences within a short span of time – meaning that interns need strong support from adults they trust to make the most of these experiences. By building a strong relationship with your intern and taking on the role of mentor, you can help them navigate the unique challenges of a first professional experience, learn the unwritten rules of workplaces, maximize new professional connections, reflect on new experiences and clarify their future professional path.

Our session leader Shamayne Braman introduced session participants to the mentorship mindset that builds a foundation of psychological safety, trust and respect. She said, “Young people are moving in and out of a stage where they’re still learning and growing, but they are also craving independence, autonomy and privacy. So people who enter their lives are not automatically granted a right to get information about who they are, their thoughts and their feelings. It must be earned through relationship building.”

Shamayne also provided these key tips for building a strong relationship with your intern using a mentorship mindset:

Build a Foundation

Take time to create an environment of psychological safety, trust and respect. This opens the door to receiving coaching, guidance and support that inspires, teaches and draws out the best in a young person.

Peel Back the Curtain

Seek to make the invisible visible to your intern. Don’t assume that they understand – or aren’t ready to understand – things they will encounter in their internship This will help your intern navigate the things they cannot change, with the support of your empathy and without judgement.

Be Clear

Be clear what you need from your intern, why you need it and when you need it, but also tell them why the work is important. Break the work down in manageable chunks and milestones. Explain how you will support them as they strive to meet your expectations and check in with them along the way.

Shamayne left participants with these words, “Everyone wants to succeed, and as long as the conditions are there, people will experience that success.”

Session #2 Overview: Understanding and Using Cultural Intelligence with Dr. Abdul Omari

In this session, Abdul taught participants how to shape a more inclusive culture in their workplace and leverage the benefits of a diverse workforce. He highlighted the importance of mindfulness in our day-to-day interactions and relationship-building.

He also introduced the framework of Cultural Intelligence (CQ) — which is an individual’s ability to function and manage effectively in culturally diverse settings. CQ includes these four factors:

  • Behavioral/Action - The ability of behavior flexibility in intercultural interactions
  • Motivational/Drive - Capability to direct and sustain energy toward functioning in an intercultural situation.
  • Cognitive/Knowledge – Knowledge and knowledge structures about culture and cultural differences.
  • Metacognitive/Strategy – Mental ability to acquire and understand cultural knowledge.

Through the artistry of illustration, Abdul used these strategies to diagram how Cultural Intelligence can be used to build a connection between employer and intern. He shared this example of how it can be utilized to kick off your relationship: “When you meet your intern for the first time, wait to see how they want to respond to your greeting,” he explained. “Wait for a hand to be offered, wait for them to bow, wait for them to place a hand on heart and follow their lead. Don’t assume they want to shake hands.”

Workplace productivity thrives when employees learn, collaborate and grow together as a team, regardless of race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and other life experiences.

Session #3 Overview: Creating and Fostering Inclusive Spaces with Dr. Abdul Omari

In this final session of the series, Abdul shared the meaning of inclusive spaces, which he defined as spaces that are welcoming and support the diverse emotional, physical, social, and communication needs of all people.

He shared these strategies for creating and fostering inclusivity in the workplace:

  • Assess your agility at work and gauge how flexible you are in workspace contexts.
  • Learn how to “name” work cultures and how they relate to workspaces.
  • Recognize the effects of bias, microaggressions and non-inclusive workspaces.
  • Learn how to “re-lens” your ideas of acceptable workspaces and shift responses to foster inclusivity.

Abdul encouraged participants to create and foster inclusive spaces, utilize cultural intelligence and lead with a mentoring mindset. Here were some additional final tips:

  • Disrupt traditional thinking and address dominant narratives.
  • Acknowledge errors made when interacting with others: That’s on me, thank you and Oh wow, I can understand how that’s a problem.
  • Hold yourself accountable for doing better in the future: “I’ll do better next time.”
  • Cultivate curiosity by asking for more information: I don’t know much about that. I would love to know more.
  • Humanize yourself by sharing things about your life.
  • Practice humility.
  • Identify areas to diversify what you read/listen/watch/follow.
  • Give yourself grace if you mess up.
  • Review your work activities and slidedecks for inclusive images, unbiased language and accessible activities.

Our tremendous thanks to Shamayne and Abdul for sharing their expertise and experiences with us. We hope you found this information helpful as you continue to mentor and support high school and college interns.

For more information, reach out to our team at