The Formula for a Successful DEI Week: 5 Types of Activities to Include
You’re committed to increasing understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within your organization and want to plan a week of events that celebrate and educate, but where do you start? What type of events should you include?
Last week, AMC kicked off our third annual DEI Week, a week of activities and events designed to bring our staff together to learn more about formal DEI topics and to celebrate what makes us all unique. As with year’s past, it was a robust week filled with many opportunities to learn, discuss critical concepts, and connect.
And while each year our DEI Advisory Group plans a unique slate of activities to build on learnings from year’s past, there are 5 types of activities that we typically return to including each year. They’ve become our formula for producing an informative and engaging DEI Week—and they make yearly planning easier too.
If planning your first (or second or third) DEI week sounds daunting, try incorporating a mix of these types of events into your week.
Activities that Explore DEI Concepts
Providing opportunities to learn about critical DEI concepts is central to DEI Week at AMC. Our DEI Advisory Group has approached this in a mix of ways the past few years from offering in-depth sessions on key concepts (for those who prefer to learn in a group setting) to posting highlights on our intranet throughout the week (for those who prefer bite-size education), to even incorporating them into a trivia challenge (for those who prefer game-based learning).
This year, we focused on DEI concepts in several events, including a session on how to become a DEI warrior and move forward from awareness to behavioral change, which was presented by Artesha Moore, President and CEO of Association Forum; a session on authentic allyship and the difference between being an ally and an accomplice, which was presented by our CEO Steve Smith and DEI and Membership Engagement Manager Linda Sterling; and a trivia challenge.
Activities that Create Spaces for Staff to Share About Themselves
Equally as important as providing learning opportunities on formal DEI topics is to create safe spaces for those participating to share about themselves. Sometimes we’ve incorporated this into a group discussion, such as a Cultural Show and Tell session, in which attendees were encouraged to bring an object that is significant to them and share why with the group.
But, we’ve also found that themed digital bulletin boards (we use Padlet) work very well for this type of sharing and also offer anonymity for those who prefer it. This year our digital bulletin board focused on stories of Pride, and members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies were welcome to post stories, photos, and resources. From stories about coming out to supporting loved ones on their journey, this was a powerful tool for learning more about this community and showing support.
In previous years, other themes we’ve explored include posting thoughts of gratitude and stories of the loved ones who have held significant roles in our lives. Through this sharing, we’ve gotten to know more about the individual experiences and backgrounds that have made us who we are today.
Activities that Highlight Cultural Traditions and Celebrations
Learning about the history of cultural traditions and how they’re celebrated today is always a feature during DEI Week. This year our DEI Week fell just after Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), so we invited a guest speaker, Laura Trejo, Chair of the Auxiliary Board of the National Museum of Mexican Art, to present a session on the significance of the day and to guide us in celebrating our loved ones who have passed.
Along with the session on Dia de Muertos, we also highlighted other DEI days of significance that occur in November—including National Family Caregivers Month, Native American Heritage Month, Intersex Day of Solidarity, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women—through informational posts on our intranet. (This is also an easy, low-cost option if bringing in a guest speaker isn’t in your budget.)
Activities that Embrace the Arts
We always make sure to center a few activities and events around the arts. Because the arts are so broad and encompassing (music, literature, cooking, film, etc.) there’s usually something to interest just about everyone. From creating a playlist of musicians from across the globe and crowdsourcing a list of under-represented authors to a cultural recipe swap and highlighting the works of diverse artists, the arts in any form is always a draw and a fun way to amplify diverse voices.
Activities that Offer Both Interactive and Self-Guided Formats
We’re mindful of the differences in how and when people prefer to interact and learn, and we aim to include a range of interactive and self-guided activities. While extroverts may be energized by interactive group discussions, introverts may glean more from introspective, self-guided activities. Factor in a meeting-heavy workweek, and having options that allow individuals to decide how and when they engage typically lead to a better experience for all.
AMC was founded nearly 50 years ago on the core values of caring, mutual trust, and respect, and those values still hold true today. Through activities supporting DEI, we’ve cemented a space to learn more about our differences, honor the individual traditions and experiences that have shaped us, and support everyone in showing up as their authentic self.
Want to incorporating DEI into your organization? AMC’s DEI Consulting Team offers customizable sessions and training in a non-threatening environment.
Thank you to the AMC DEI Advisory Group for once again creating a week of engaging and inspiring events: Zinat Ali, Molly Anderson, Katherine Ast, Summar Jonas, Sonya Jones, Lauren Krauth, Jerrod Liveoak, Steve Smith, Linda Sterling, Katherine Wayne, Dionne Wilson, and Lauren Winters.
Katherine Wayne is senior manager of corporate communications at AMC.
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