For Nick Tzanev, senior director of information technology operations, information security, and web, diversity and inclusion mean acknowledging and appreciating our differences. He said, “We aren't all the same.” He likens our differences to ingredients in a salad bowl where each ingredient works together. Nick said, “We are each unique and collectively better off together. We must celebrate and leverage our differences.”
Nick's involvement with USAble Life's Inclusion Council is personal. He came from Bulgaria, alone, at the age of 17 and began working with USAble Life as an intern shortly after arriving in the U.S. Nick interned for three years and has been a full-time employee for nearly 18 years. He said, “This place symbolizes my American dream.”
He believes that the workplace is a unique environment in that it “can and must transcend issues that linger in society.” Nick says, “The workplace can set good examples and has the incentives to do so, and diverse teams perform better.” Nick is passionate about diversity and inclusion and feels strongly that “anyone willing and able deserves a shot at wholesome job satisfaction.” As a member of the Inclusion Council, he says, “I would like an opportunity to ensure our culture supports diversity.”
As someone who began a long-term career with USAble Life, Nick has been heavily involved in internship projects with the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Arkansas. These projects have also continued to solidify his passion for diversity and inclusion. He considers his work with these programs a great accomplishment. Not only do the intern relationships bring in skilled job applicants, but diverse candidates as well.
Regarding diversity and inclusion, Nick was greatly influenced by his first boss, Arlie Tubbs. He said, “Arlie gave a shot to the strange foreign kid in small-town Batesville, Ark.” Nick said he was worried about job prospects at the time because of who he was rather than what he could do. “Arlie was the first person to relieve me of the pressure to fit in,” he said. Nick is also inspired by Vice President Kamala Harris because of what her success means to women. He said, “Think about her and others who trail-blazed. I grew up around strong women like my mom, who raised me alone. I married a strong woman, and I have a daughter; we tell her she can do anything boys can.”
As Nick progresses on his diversity and inclusion journey, he hopes that he and others can learn to “become fluent in the uncomfortable. Listen. Understand and control biases.” He wants to teach others to “lean into the conversation” and be intentional about doing so, as well as to invite participation just as he was once invited and included by his first boss, Arlie Tubbs.