The Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) defines diversity as any and all differences between and among people. ACH welcomes all diversities, recognizing that various life experiences, perspectives and cultures inform and enrich their understanding of the world, each other and themselves. ACH is committed to building an inclusive organization and has identified diversification of membership as a priority action.
ACH continues to make great strides in their diversity and inclusion efforts as leaders, committees, staff and members work toward this common goal for the Academy. Merging with our efforts was their second year co-locating ACH Forum, a research conference and ACH ENRICH, a healthcare communication course. While the conference and the course have uniquely different goals for the attendees, all of the attendees share a passion for communication in healthcare. The challenge was to create a means of continuing the conversation around the organization’s diversity goals at this combined meeting.
At the June 2018 ACH ENRICH Forum, the jointly held conference and course, we set up the “I am…” wall. Using an extra poster board stand from our poster reception, we set out the blank stand by registration with the words “I am…” printed in huge letters in the center. A table tent on a close by table asked people to share two or three words about themselves that finished the sentence “I am…” These could include identities, feelings, traits, interests or anything else!
Markers, thumbtacks and bright note cards were provided for people to write about themselves and then they simply tacked them up on the poster board stand. We encouraged participation during our general sessions, through word of mouth, attendee messaging and at the registration desk.
The result was a fun and engaging way to allow all attendees at the course and conference the opportunity to share their unique voice while creating a feeling of inclusivity that ACH endeavors to have. While people posted anonymously, the wall helped to create connections and inspire conversations. Attendees often stopped to read the many submissions and it helped to add an additional networking opportunity for the co-located course and conference without having to add additional time to an already full schedule for the attendees.
And attendees wanted to know – what are you going to do with the wall? This activity was so fun we didn’t want anyone to miss it, so, after the conference a word cloud was made with the words people wrote down as well as a video exhibiting many of the cards, which was then shared with all the attendees so the wall and what we’d learned about each other could live on beyond the conference & course.