Building Belonging Through a DEI Wall: A Case Study of EDSI's Success

Jill Monte - Content Specialist ·

Fostering a sense of belonging among employees is crucial for cultivating a productive, engaged, and satisfied workforce. Studies show that employees who feel they belong are significantly more productive and less likely to leave their jobs, leading to higher retention rates and overall organizational success. Creating an inclusive environment where diversity is celebrated and equity is prioritized plays a key role in achieving this sense of belonging.

One innovative tool that has proven effective in promoting these values is the DEI Wall at EDSI. A DEI Wall can be a physical or online space dedicated to sharing information, resources, and experiences related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It serves as a dynamic platform for fostering ongoing engagement and dialogue within the workplace.

DEI wall with Em and Karen
Pictured with the DEI Wall are Emmett Sanders, Media and Compliance Coordinator and Karen Smith-Burden, Business Services Representative.

Interview with EDSI Team Members

Jill: The DEI Wall at your EDSI branch in PA CareerLink® Montgomery County sounds like a fantastic initiative! Emmett, in your article, you mentioned wanting to go beyond mandatory trainings. Can you elaborate on why this was important to you?

Emmett: Absolutely! While DEI training is crucial, I wanted to create a space for ongoing engagement and connection. The DEI Wall is a dynamic platform that keeps these topics at the forefront of our minds, sparking conversations and fostering a sense of belonging that goes beyond a training session.

Karen: Emmett is exactly right. The Wall allows us to delve deeper and explore specific topics in a way that feels more organic and relevant to our daily work.

Jill: The DEI Wall centers around rotating content. Karen, can you give some examples of what people might find on the Wall?

Karen: Sure! We cover a wide range of topics. Recently, we had information on Lunar New Year and Black History Month, alongside resources on mental health awareness and implicit bias training. We also have QR codes that link to informative articles and videos.

Emmett: And it's not a one-way street! We encourage everyone to contribute. Staff members can share personal stories, upcoming events related to DEI, or even just leave sticky notes with their thoughts and reflections.

Jill: I love the collaborative nature of the project. How do you ensure everyone feels welcome to participate?

Karen: We make a point of showcasing diverse voices and perspectives on the Wall. We also actively seek out contributions from different teams and backgrounds within the office.

Emmett: Absolutely. The Belonging Ambassador role is all about fostering that sense of inclusion. Karen does a fantastic job of reaching out and making sure everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.

Jill: The positive feedback you've received is inspiring! What kind of impact has the DEI Wall had on your workplace culture?

Karen: The biggest change has been the increase in open conversations about diversity and inclusion. People are more comfortable asking questions and sharing their experiences.

Emmett: It's also created a stronger sense of community. We're learning from each other and appreciating the unique perspectives everyone brings to the table.

Jill: Your hope is to inspire other offices/organizations to implement similar initiatives. Do you have any advice for someone considering creating a DEI Wall at their organization?

Emmett: Definitely! Start small and keep it simple. A bulletin board or even a dedicated online space can be very effective. The most important thing is to create a safe and inclusive environment for participation.

Karen: And don't be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to colleagues who are passionate about DEI and see if they'd be willing to collaborate.

Emmett: We believe the DEI Wall is a powerful tool for creating a more inclusive workplace. We're excited to see how it continues to evolve and inspire others!

Interview Highlights

  • Initial Purpose: The DEI Wall was created to provide a dedicated space for sharing information and resources related to DEI
  • Content Variety: The wall has been used to promote awareness of different holidays and cultural celebrations, as well as mental health resources.
  • Curating Content: The Belonging Ambassadors play a crucial role in curating the content on the wall and keeping it fresh and relevant.
  • Encouraging Participation: The team is looking for ways to expand participation and encourage more employees to contribute to the DEI Wall.
  • Future Plans: There is a possibility of creating a series of short educational videos on DEI topics to complement the Wall.
  • Expanding Initiatives: A potential future avenue could be a dedicated DEI summit or forum for employees to connect and discuss these issues.

Data Points on EDSI's DEI Wall

  • Inception: The DEI Wall went up in March 2023.
  • Team Involvement: Seven staff members have been involved in developing and facilitating DEI content within the office, not limited to, but including the Wall.
  • Staff Gratitude: Many staff members have expressed gratitude for the DEI efforts.
  • Content Rotation: In the last year, the DEI Wall has cycled through six displays, changing roughly each quarter, covering a multitude of topics.
DEI wall First pic
DEI Wall 1
DEI Wall 2
DEI Wall 3
DEI Wall 4
DEI Wall 5

DEI Wall Display Timeline

  1. March 2023 - Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV)
  • Shared workforce development statistics and information on supporting transgender people.
  • Open invite to staff to share anything relevant or important to DEI in the community.
  • Two individuals contributed to the wall, sparking positive conversations with post-it notes.
May 2023 - APPI Heritage Month, National Mobility Awareness Month, Jewish-American Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and Dialogue about Belonging June 2023 - LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, PTSD Awareness Month, Immigrant Heritage Month
  • Included information on an intergenerational workforce, giving people with disabilities a voice, and Alzheimer's and dementia support.
November 2023 - Inclusive Language Principles
  • How to show support to various groups and avoid offensive terminology.
  • History of the cornucopia, fall observances, self-facilitated research on diversity, adversity, and encouraged the "Human Library" activity.
December 2023 - Holidays and Holi-don'ts!
  • Shared information on many holidays that take place in winter.
  • Recognized individuals who do not celebrate holidays.
  • Addressed seasonal blues.
March 2024 - Belonging Litigation & Invitation to Consider Your Own Efforts

How to Create Your Own DEI Wall

Inspired by EDSI's success story, here are some tips for creating your own DEI Wall:

  • Find a dedicated space: This could be a physical bulletin board, a section of your company intranet, or a social media group.
  • Establish clear guidelines: Determine what types of content will be allowed on the wall and how it will be moderated.
  • Promote the wall: Let employees know about the wall and encourage them to contribute.
  • Keep it fresh: Regularly update the wall with new content and resources.

Creating a DEI Wall is a simple yet effective way to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace. By providing a space for employees to share their experiences and learn from each other, you can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

Expanding Beyond the Wall: Diverse Companywide Initiatives

The Belonging Ambassadors at EDSI champion diversity in creative and meaningful ways across the company. Beyond the DEI Wall and conversations happening in Montgomery County, many of our local offices and regions celebrate diversity by sharing cultural meals, creating heritage-inspired cookbooks, hosting book clubs, and participating in community volunteering and events, among other activities.

To ensure fresh perspectives and inclusive leadership, EDSI rotates Belonging Ambassadors every six months, giving everyone an opportunity to help lead diversity efforts in their local communities.

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