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Celebrating DEI in the Workplace

Celebrating DEI in the Workplace

By Katherine Wayne

A few weeks ago, ֱ celebrated its fourth annual DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) Week.

What’s DEI Week? At ֱ, we’ve designated DEI Week as a time to come together to learn more about emerging topics and critical issues along with the individual life experiences and backgrounds that make us all unique.

After 4 years, there are some tried and true activities that still hold true (DEI trivia and a musical playlist are still fan favorites), but this year we incorporated a few new ones too.

If you’re looking for ideas on how make DEI a celebration, here are highlights from ֱ’s DEI Week 2023.

Juneteenth Celebration BBQ and Potluck

Juneteenth has been a company holiday at ֱ since 2022. And this year, our BIPOC Employee Resource Group (ERG) added to the celebration by hosting a Juneteenth-themed BBQ, bingo, and potluck. With a BBQ sampling catered by Soul and Smoke in Evanston, the celebration also included staff-made appetizers and desserts (many the traditional red foods that symbolize Juneteenth). Along with the BBQ, a game of Juneteenth bingo was also played, with members of the BIPOC ERG explaining the historical significance of each word called, making for a fun and educational way to learn more about this pivotal event in history.

Educational Session on Thriving in a Multigenerational Workplace

A hallmark of each DEI Week is a keynote session, typically on a topic of emerging issue. This year, we welcomed Melissa Furman, DBA, of Career Potential, who led a session on how different generations are perceived in the workplace, the unique strengths each brings and the challenges they face, and strategies for how we can better support one other. It was an engaging and interactive session that both entertained and had every generation in the workplace (from Baby Boomer to Generation Z) feeling represented and better understood.

Guided Tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum

One of the newer events incorporated into this year’s DEI Week was an immersive experience in the form of a tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Nearly 2 dozen staff attended the afternoon “field trip,” which included a guided tour of the museum and its award-winning, interactive Hologram Survivors’ Stories exhibit that enables visitors to connect with a survivor and even ask questions about what life was like during the Holocaust. Those who attended shared reflections after and cited the experience as being “deeply moving and powerful…and illustrating the strength, endurance, brutality, and hopefulness of humans.”

Cultural Diversity in Caregiving and LGBTQ+ Media Reflections

ֱ’s ERGs were active throughout DEI Week, posting music playlists and bios of diverse artists and hosting themed sessions. The Caregiving ERG—a community for staff at ֱ who provide care to adults in their lives—held a thought-provoking session on how caring for adults as they age can look different in each family, culture, community, and country. DEI Week then concluded with an open discussion by the LGBTQ+ ERG on media that had been shared during the week as well as reflections on the entire week’s experiences and learnings.

Creating Space to Pause and Connect

Though DEI isn’t something that’s focused on only once a year at ֱ, hosting an annual DEI Week of events creates a dedicated space for staff to pause, learn more about critical issues, and connect with a community that values individuals for who they are outside of their roles at ֱ.

Additional Resources
Looking for more DEI Week ideas? Read our blog post on , and The Formula for a Successful DEI Week: 5 Types of Activities to Include.

Thank you to the ֱ DEI Advisory Group for once again creating a week of engaging and inspiring events: Zinat Ali, Katherine Ast, Julie Bruno, Summar Jonas, Lauren Krauth, Jerrod Liveoak, Steve Smith, Linda Sterling, Debbie Trueblood, Katherine Wayne, Lauren Winters, Laura Witt, and Sable Woods.

Katherine Wayne is senior manager of corporate communications at ֱ.

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