Team Building Time Img 12 min

A Guide to the Best Diversity and Inclusion Activities in the Workplace

December 23, 2022
| By
Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Reviewed by
Kara Funk

Senior HR Consultant, People & Culture

Diversity and Inclusion Activities in the Workplace

Diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace are part of creating an office environment where everyone feels comfortable, supported, and able to be themselves. Diversity in your workforce brings a greater breadth of perspective and ingenuity, while clearly stated policies around inclusion can be a key factor in retaining talent.

There are numerous diversity and inclusion team building activities you can employ to highlight and celebrate the differences and similarities that foster a thriving business.

For more team-building ideas, have a look at our article on virtual reality team building. For a more health-focused approach, check out these virtual team health challenges you can try out with your remote team.

1. What Does Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Imply? 

Diversity and inclusion (also known as D&I) is about making sure everyone in a company is welcome and heard, regardless of gender, race or any other factors. The term is also used to refer to the policies at a business enacted to create equitable working conditions, so that all staff are treated fairly and without differentiation based on their background or culture.

Diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace benefit the company beyond its corporate social responsibility commitments. An ongoing study by consultancy McKinsey has demonstrated that diversity, equity and inclusion policies are also linked to positive financial performance.

2. The Best Diversity and Inclusion Activities to Implement at the Workplace

The Best Diversity

2.1 Draw a Diversity Flower

This is a great diversity and inclusion icebreaker activity. You can use a collaborative digital whiteboard tool like Miro or Jamboard to create a Diversity Flower. Invite team members to fill in petals representing different dimensions of diversity. Divide those participating into groups of 4 to 8. Each group should be given a large piece of paper and colorful markers. Start by drawing a large flower on the piece of paper. This flower should have a circular center and petals equal to the number of people in the group. 

Encourage everyone to discuss something unique about themselves that relates to their traits or abilities – these make up the petals. In the circular center, write something that everyone in the group shares. Once everyone has completed their flower, swap the drawings around and open up a discussion about the various similarities and differences.

2.2 Diversity Briefings

Diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace help develop a more inclusive and equitable environment, promoting collaboration and understanding among employees from diverse backgrounds. You can educate your employees and broaden their cultural horizons with Diversity and inclusion workshop. These workshops are a great first step in bringing D&I to your workplace as they focus on awareness of relevant topics. Invite guest speakers to  give briefings about different aspects of D&I, such as the 7 Pillars of Inclusion framework.

Alternatively, ask employees from different backgrounds to discuss their holy days, culinary customs and other social mores. This has the benefit of not only increasing understanding, but it also creates a foundation for team members to build closer interpersonal connections.

2.3 Snapshot Board

This fun and creative diversity and inclusion activity for the workplace gives employees an opportunity to share personal stories and experiences.  Employees benefit from not only getting to know one another better but they also learn something at the same time. Ask people to submit images of themselves at family events or well-known landmarks, then create a collage of the photos. 

This can be either a physical object in an office or a virtual item on a website. Having these individual souvenirs on display can stimulate conversations and encourage staff to have a greater interest in one another’s backgrounds and exploits. 

2.4 Organize a Book Club 

Starting up a company book club encourages people to explore new narratives and learn about other lives. Each month or quarter, select a book around a theme that promotes D&I, such as an LGBT story or a book set in another country. 

Alternatively, get everyone to read and discuss a book like Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, which dissects the unconscious biases caused by things like culture, social class and nationality. You can set up a book club as one of your in-person or virtual diversity and inclusion activities. 

2.5 Potluck Lunch Sessions

With food playing such a big part of most cultures, what better way to share your background than a potluck luncheon. Not only do you get to taste some delicious dishes but you learn something too! Designate a day when everyone brings in an appetizer, main, side or dessert from their childhood or heritage. 

Remember that this doesn’t have to be something necessarily from an individual’s culture of origin but might also be something from their adoptive culture as well. After all, our lived experiences are part of what makes us diverse. You can clarify beforehand by creating a shared document for people to put who will bring what, or you may end up with seven sweets and no savories!

2.6 I Am, But I Am Not

I Am, but I Am Not is all about challenging preconceptions concerning gender, race, sexuality, etc. It can be one of the more revealing diversity event ideas in the workplace, though it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of your team. 

Each person is given a piece of paper, which they then divide into two columns. One column is headed ‘I Am’, while the other is headed ‘But I Am Not.’ Under ‘I Am,’ each participant should write down a self-identifier, while under ‘I Am Not’ they should inscribe a stereotype about their self-identifier which is untrue. Once everyone has written several sentences along these lines, individuals take  turns to discuss what they’ve written. 

2.7 Step Apart and Step Together

How do you teach diversity in a fun way? With a game, of course! One of the more entertaining diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace, Step Apart and Step Together helps people to recognize their similarities and acknowledge their differences. 

Divide people into pairs and have them stand opposite one another. Everyone else then calls out diversity groupings, such as age, religion or ethnicity. When the pair have a difference, they step apart; when they have a similarity, they step together.

2.8 Create a Life Map 

Distribute paper and pens to your team and ask them to write down key moments in their past, as well as hopes for the future. They should feel free to write down as much or as little about themselves as they like. The result should come together as a kind of life map, which will allow other participants to understand their peers and their distinct journeys a bit better. 

These pieces of paper are then placed in a hat and individually drawn out. From what has been written on the paper, colleagues then guess who created which life map, discussing the contents in a considerate way as you go along. You might want to conclude the activity by asking each person to pick out something they were surprised to learn about their coworkers.

2.9 Do the Privilege Walk

One of the staples of diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace is the Privilege Walk. Ask your staff to stand shoulder to shoulder in the middle of a fairly large space and close their eyes. Next, read out a mix of statements related to privilege. For example, ‘If one or both of your parents graduated from college, take one step forward.’ 

Positive statements that ask people to step forward should be balanced with negative statements that ask them to step back, e.g., ‘If you have ever been called names regarding your race, take one step back.’ After you’ve finished your list of assertions, ask everybody to open their eyes. Complete the activity by asking everybody to sit down together and discuss what they’ve learned and how the activity made them feel.

2.10 Encourage Volunteering  

Promoting volunteering in your organization has many workplace benefits, several of which relate to diversity and inclusion. Volunteer work can give staff a different perspective on life and provide them with an opportunity to understand the struggles of people from different backgrounds. 

This could include working at a homeless shelter, distributing food at a soup kitchen or mentoring children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

2.11 Host Guest Speakers 

Whether in a virtual or physical space, guest speakers can be one of the most powerful inclusion activities for meetings. Individuals who specialize in researching and speaking about diversity and inclusion can offer professional insight into common issues such as neurodiversity, gender representation and disability awareness. You can also ask if any members of staff want to do a lunch and learn or presentation on a topic that they are familiar with

They can also suggest a tried-and-true framework for how D&I is addressed in the workplace.

2.12 Have a General Discussion 

Your diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace can be as simple as arranginga safe space for conversation between colleagues. Ask people to share their life stories and speak frankly about times they faced discrimination or bias. 

With the right facilitator guiding the conversation, generalized discussions can be a superb way for people to learn more about one another in a safe space. Plus, the more direct approach can have a more personalized effect.

2.13 Host Movie Nights

2.15  Host Movie Nights

Film sessions can be a light-touch way to address equity in the workplace. In addition to the general team-building aspect, a movie night with colleagues can be used to initiate discussion about diversity and inclusion. 

This can be accomplished through renting a projector, visiting a movie theater or setting up a virtual screening. Netflix often curates media based on D&I themes like black history month. There are a lot of different genres of movie you can watch to address D&I, from comedies like The Intern to documentaries like The Invisible War. 

3. Diversity Games for Work

3.1 Icebreaker Sessions 

Icebreaker Sessions 

Diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace don’t get simpler than a set of questions designed to foster communication and openness. Before getting into grittier topics surrounding diversity equity and inclusion icebreakers, it can be helpful to let people get to know each other a bit first. 

For example as diversity icebreaker activities, you could ask about favorite meals, first trips abroad, the origin of an individual’s name or best childhood memories. You could even ask them about what are some diversity icebreaker activities they’ve done before. Encourage participants to provide more detailed answers rather than one-line responses.

3.2 Host a Happy Hour

Host a Happy Hour

One of the most fun diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace, of course, happy hour. With a little alcohol as a kickstarter, staff may find it easier to engage with one another and begin to develop relationships. 

This more relaxed social setting is a great way to foster inclusion and networking within a smaller team or a wider department. Just make sure your staff don’t get too carried away! It might be a good idea to supply some snacks as well to offset the booze.

3.3. Diversity Bingo

Diversity Bingo is a fun and interactive game designed to help employees learn more about each other's diverse backgrounds and experiences. The characteristics used for these kinds of diversity games for work should be varied and encompass a wide range of identities and backgrounds. Examples include "speaks multiple languages," "has traveled to another country," "has volunteered for a social justice cause," or "is part of an underrepresented group." 

3.4. Role-Playing Scenarios

If you are looking for effective diversity games for work then role playing scenarios are great. Develop scenarios that address common workplace diversity and inclusion issues, such as microaggressions or unconscious bias. Ask employees to role-play these situations and discuss potential solutions afterward.

3.5. Identity Circles

Identity Circles is one of the diversity games for work that allows employees to share important aspects of their identities, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding. To conduct this activity, arrange chairs in a circle or semi-circle and invite employees to sit down and form a circle. Begin by introducing the activity and its purpose, emphasizing the importance of creating a safe and respectful space for sharing. Starting with one person, each participant takes a turn to share a part of their identity that is important to them.

4. FAQs

4.1 What Are Good Examples of Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace?

The best diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace tackle issues of bias and prejudice in a way that provokes thoughtful discussion. It’s important that everybody should be made to feel comfortable asking questions and expressing personal stories.

4.2 How Can You Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Workplace?

The first step is often to have clearly stated diversity, equity and inclusion mission statements in place. You can then arrange for briefings, guest speakers and other pursuits to reinforce these messages.

4.3 What Are Inclusive Activities?

Inclusive activities promote a sense of belonging and improve general team dynamics. These can range from more informal setups like movie nights and happy hours, to asking people to participate in training sessions around workplace practices.

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