The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program at CHI Brings Staff Together

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CHI employees celebrate diversity wearing Colombian cultural attire

Ambassadors of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program took the stage during Cultural Awareness Day at CHI. This is a day that employees gather to celebrate the diversity among staff. They are encouraged to wear cultural attire and share aspects of their culture with history, food, music and more. At the start of the day, the ambassadors engaged in a workshop known as a “privilege walk.” They courageously revealed personal histories and facts about their lives as they stepped forward in response to probing questions. As CHI employees in the audience observed, they would realize that despite their differences and unique life experiences, there is common ground in their shared work environment. The goal was to stimulate a deeper understanding of unity among the diverse individuals within the organization. 

Carol Blackwood-Curry, CHI’s Director of Volunteer Services and Event Coordination and DEI Ambassador, said that activities like these offer an insight into each other’s lives that provide a valuable lesson in understanding who we are as individuals. 

“We may have varying experiences, but we need to be a little bit more empathic towards the experiences that others have that we have not,” she said. “It is an eye opener usually for everybody. It did cause some conversations afterward.” 

CHI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program was created at CHI in 2022 to create a sense of belonging among employees. The organization has a diverse staff, but leaders wanted to ensure that everyone feels understood, recognized and appreciated at work.  

“We value diversity, but figuring out how to help people feel like they belong in the environment, from the patients to the staff to the community, that’s a different thing,” Blackwood-Curry said. “You have to make some effort for that.” 

Since the start of this program, its eight ambassadors, serving as representatives of the staff and various ethnic groups at CHI, have actively launched a series of activities and events designed to connect employees. These initiatives create a space for open and honest conversation promoting a culture of transparency and mutual understanding within the organization. Among these efforts include themed “DEI Fridays” where each Friday for 6 weeks out of the year there are opportunities for staff to create “I am” videos and written narratives that showcase who they are as individuals. Additionally, the introduction of “DEI lunch and learns,” a 40-minute interactive conversation focused on DEI topics has been successful.

According to Blackwood-Curry, these efforts have already begun to make a difference among staff and have had a positive impact on the patient care approach. 

“People are talking to each other and learning from each other,” she said. “It extends what was already an empathic attitude towards our patients. It reminds staff to be mindful of how they speak to one another.”