Building Our Own Table: Farzin Farzad
Meet the founder of Critical Equity Consulting LLC
As I mentioned in my post about my personal top voices on LinkedIn, Farzin Farzad fights isms from an organizational justice lens. I value his posts because they always give me food for thought, whether I completely agree with him or not. I believe it’s important to be open to other ways of seeing things, and Farzin’s a great person to follow for both inspiration and challenge. Please meet Farzin.
Farzin, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Critical Equity Consulting, LLC.
I think like most practitioners, there wasn't a clear trajectory for me in entering the DEI space. In my 20s after graduate school, I did a lot of human rights work on behalf of my own ethnicity (Azerbaijani from Iran), and grew to do advocacy work for the linguistic and cultural rights of minoritized populations in Iran. I became active in the Azerbaijani diaspora in the US and eventually went on to get my second Master's Degree at ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan focusing on ethnic politics and conflict. Upon my return, I took a job doing talent acquisition at George Mason University, which was really the start of my formal DEI journey. I went on to do DEI work in the corporate sector and local government before starting Critical Equity Consulting in June of 2020.
Give me the elevator pitch for Critical Equity Consulting.
Critical Equity Consulting, LLC uses a systems-oriented approach to probe deeply and critically into daily operations in order to bring about revolutionary progress to your organization.
And in more detail?
Given my background in human rights and social justice, a lot of DEI work seemed very incomplete. So I started Critical Equity with the goal of doing deep equity and justice work. My firm specializes in probing the layer beyond the individual and cultural; peering into how your organization functions, the values it upholds, and how decisions are made in order to determine the systemic factors in determining organizational culture and negative behaviors.
What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?
I believe they are all connected. I'm not an expert, by any means, in every culture and identity. So what I seek to do is create environments of participatory design and development in order for employees themselves to model authenticity and embed that into the culture (with guidance of course).
How’s it going? What has the response been?
Overwhelmingly positive, I think. People are hungry for this stuff. My work touches on the very fabric of organizational identity. It focuses on determining how power is distributed and maintained, whether hierarchically or democratically, throughout an organization and how that structural design influences culture and behavior. Lots of lightbulbs click and that's because I don't ever assume anyone in an organization is incapable of understanding their own oppression. I place that oppression in the context of history and society, and it's very validating. And this knowledge equips participants with the tools to effectively advocate for their needs.
What’s next for Critical Equity Consulting? Any goals you're hoping to achieve?
I have a massive dream to build a model of organizational justice from a racial and identity-based justice lens. The idea is to create a body of knowledge that can be applied from end to end (i.e., from employee surveys, to intervention tactics, to workplace conflict mechanisms, to employee training and development, etc.) all using this philosophical knowledge of organizational justice as a foundation. It requires a massive amount of capital and a lot of active stakeholders, both from academia and practice, but I'm slowly inching toward that goal. I have the core of it mostly down, but it's going to require time, funding, and experimentation to get it right.
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
Racism can only exist if we are comfortable with entrenched systems of power. My goal is to see every community come together on equal footing and advocate for their needs with communal power, while we all collectively work to repair the legacies of damage white supremacy and capitalism have unleashed on this planet.
Is there anything I haven't asked you that you'd like to add?
In addition to running my own firm, I work full time as a DEIB Strategist and Trainer with a wonderful company called PowerToFly. I also sit on the board of Service Never Sleeps, a non-profit organization that does amazing work in social justice and allyship, as well as the Right Use of Power Institute, which focuses on effective means of stewarding power in organizations. I am also a member of the Fairfax County Civil Service Commission. Above all, I'm grateful for my extremely supportive and patient spouse and a proud dad of a rambunctious toddler.
Thanks, Farzin. Folks, please check out the Critical Equity Consulting website, and follow Farzin on LinkedIn and Twitter to hear more of his thoughts. And I’d love to hear what stood out for you in this interview.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Background image courtesy of Getty Images - Colors Hunter - Chasseur de Couleurs