Are you in search of some diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) activities for the workplace?
Diversity in the workplace is more important now than ever!
For a company to be attractive to young workers, they need to be inclusive.
We all know that prejudice and bias have no place in the workplace. So, we should find a way to embrace diversity and equity, and practice inclusion.
You need your employees to say YES to inclusion and NO to discrimination.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 easy team building activities you and your staff can engage in while moving toward greater inclusion and a celebration of diversity.
How to Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace?
So many companies are concerned with their bottom lines, they don’t always think about how they got there. Hard work and dedication are important attributes in the workforce. However, it’s critical that your management team embraces the diversity that exists in your workforce.
To promote DEI in the workplace, everyone must understand what diversity, equity, and inclusion are.
- Diversity: A mix of people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and ages in the workplace.
- Equity: Fairness and justice for all regardless of their differences.
- Inclusion: Everyone has a sense of belonging within the workplace.
Once everyone is on board with these core values, companies can begin to create a culture of DEI.
Since most companies operate in a top-down fashion, your upper management members set the tone for the rest of their staff. Therefore, it’s critical that your staff not only understand what diversity, equity, and inclusion are, but they need to embrace these ideas and make them a part of their everyday lives.
The best way to do this is by incorporating DEI activities into the workplace. You can conduct these activities with your teams during staff meetings, training sessions, office breaks, or whenever you want.
10 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Activities for the Workplace
Here are 10 activities to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in your workplace.
If you want to know how you can conduct team building activities, you can read this article for inspiration: How to Facilitate Team Building Activities in Your Workplace?
So, let’s get started!
#1. Cross the Line
One way to bring people together is to show them just how much in common they have. “Cross the Line” is one of the best DEI activities to make this happen.
Time: 15 minutes
Participants: Any number of employees
Materials: None – just a piece of masking tape and a list of questions
- At first, use masking tape or any other material to draw a line down the middle of the floor. Next, have all of your staff stand on one side of the line.
- Now, let your staff know that you’ll be asking random questions. For any question or situation that relates to them, they can cross the line.
(Note: Some of the questions could include some of the following:
How many of you hated being picked last for a game in gym class?
How many of you were nervous to start on your first day of work at our company?
- Then, start asking your questions and, after each one, take notice of how many employees cross the line. It’s a good idea to have about 10-15 questions ready.
- After the questions have all been asked, tell everyone to stop and look around.
Debrief: The goal here is to demonstrate that we are all the same deep down. We just have to take the time to learn a few things about each other. Point out to your employees that, while they may all seem different at first glance, they are a lot more similar than they may think.
#2. Surprising Fact
One good way to get your staff to appreciate differences in their coworkers is to get to know a bit more about them one-on-one. The Surprising Fact activity is a great way to do this.
Time: You decide
Participants: All employees at the same level (managers with managers, employees with employees, etc.)
Materials: Paper and pens
- At first, pair up your employees in groups of 2.
- Now, have them spend 5-10 minutes getting to know each other by asking personal, specific questions. Some of these questions could include what holidays they celebrate, what kind of food they eat at home, what their parents are like when it comes to religion, etc.
- Finally, have each employee share what they learned about their partners that surprised them.
Debrief: Point out how easy it is to get to know each other a little better. Just take out a few minutes every day to talk to people of a different culture.
#3. Insensitivity Jar
The point of this activity is to find out how often people say something that is insensitive without even being aware of it.
Participants: All staff including the manager
Materials: Jar and list of insensitive language
- Initially, provide employees with a list of words and phrases that are considered insensitive toward other groups of people.
- Each time someone uses one of these terms, they must put $1 in the sensitivity jar.
- At the end of the month, use the funds for multi-cultural lunch. Remind employees that the goal is for the funds to be zero.
Debrief: The goal of this exercise is not about putting actual money into a jar. The purpose is to remind people that we all have our own views on what may be considered insensitive. What may seem innocent or funny to one person can be extremely hurtful to another.
#4. Walk a Mile in My Shoes
Nothing makes a person appreciate how good they have it until they’ve walked in the shoes of someone more disadvantaged. Walk a Mile in my shoes is one of the interesting diversity and inclusion activities that you try over a weekend.
Time: 1 day
Participants: An even number of staff with a minimum of 6.
- Pick 6 or more of your staff, each of a different background or ethnicity.
- Then, ask them to do something socially together over the weekend.
- Finally, have them submit a report outlining what was different about their backgrounds, preferences, food, music, etc.
Debrief: Demonstrate that, just because from a variety of backgrounds, they can still enjoy the same social experience.
#5. The Stereotype Game
Most people don’t realize just how prejudiced they really are. This exercise gives your employees a chance to see what their words really mean, especially if they were read out loud.
Time: 15 minutes
Materials: Pen and Paper
- Initially, create a fill-in-the-blank worksheet for your staff to complete. Each line offers the potential for them to give a prejudiced response.
For example, one line could read: “_____ are the worst drivers.” Or you may insert a line such as “African Americans all listen to ____ music.”
- Now, collect the completed sheets. Keep the responses anonymous. Go over some of the more obviously biased or prejudiced answers and share them with the group. Then, point out just how prejudiced these beliefs really are.
- Finally, follow this up a month later to see if the answers change.
Debrief: Once you have both sets of answers (a month apart), show them what difference it makes when they are conscious of the impact their words can have.
#6. Opinions, Opinions
It usually isn’t what your employees say that causes problems in the workplace. It is the way they feel and behave towards certain groups of people. This activity will help you identify what attitudes your staff have against diverse staff members.
Time: 15 minutes
Materials: Prepared questionnaire
- Hand out a questionnaire. (No mandatory participation.)
- Questions will be mostly True and False with a few short answers included. Some questions will say something to the effect of: “I think people should be able to wear religious clothing even if it goes against the dress code and safety measures T or F. Another question could be, “I get tired of my coworkers complaining about us putting up a Christmas Tree in December T or F).
- Then, collect forms and look for patterns.
Debrief: Simply let staff know you appreciate their feedback. These forms should be anonymous so there is no chance of holding any responses against an employee.
#7. Secret Exclusions
The only way to know how your employees feel is to ask them. This DEI activity gives your employees a chance to express times they’ve felt excluded without the fear of retaliation since their answers are anonymous.
Time: 15-30 minutes
Participants: Entire department (up to 15). If greater than that, do it in separate groups.
Materials: Paper and pen
- Give each employee a piece of paper and a pen. They are not to write their names on the paper.
- Now, instruct each of them to write about a situation in which they felt excluded based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or religion.
- Then, collect them when they are all completed. Finally, read them all and track any patterns you see.
Debrief: Let your staff know that you intend to rectify any of these situations so they do not happen again. Then give Human Resources a summary of the issues so they can address them in a revised handbook.
We all make assumptions about people based on their looks. These assumptions could be related to race, weight, age, etc. This exercise will help identify how we see each other. It will also remind everybody that they can all be the victim of harmful profiling.
Time: You decide
Participants: Entire team
Materials: Paper cut into circles; Popsicle sticks or paint stirrers
- Write a label on each circle (head) including Black, Indian, Asian, Elderly, Young, Overweight, Disabled, Muslim, Jewish, etc.
- Next, attach each to a popsicle stick or paint stirrer. Then, hand them out to your team, face down.
- Team members are to pair up and hold up their stick without knowing which one they’ve been assigned. The other member is to describe them using whatever words necessary.
Debrief: When the activity is over, team members are to discuss the stereotypical comments made to describe their own handle. This will spark a conversation about how harmful stereotypes are and how they need to learn to not use them.
#9. Famous Names, Famous People
This is one of the amazing DEI activities for the workplace. Many schools have courses to help teach students about important people in history who do not meet the cookie-cutter white, male role models. This activity will give your team a chance to find industry leaders who are from different ethnicities.
Time: You decide
Participants: 10 staff members
Materials: Internet; Paper and pen
- Initially, advise each member to go online and find a brief background on an industry leader who was a minority (woman, LGBTQ, or racial minority).
- Each member will then discuss their research with the team.
Debrief: The point is to show that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Just because someone comes from a poor country or has a physical disability does not mean they cannot be a successful businessperson.
#10. If I Ruled the World
The idea of this activity is to make your staff think of ways to make your company more inclusive. What changes would they make if they were in charge?
Time: You decide
- At first, gather groups together and explain the exercise.
- Each member will come up with 3 real-life ideas of changes the company could make to be more inclusive. Tell them to be creative and to think outside the box.
- Once done, they can turn in to you. As the facilitator, you’ll review the ideas and submit a copy to Human Resources.
- If any of the ideas are selected, the person who came up with the idea gets a $250 bonus.
Debrief: Explain that good ideas come from everywhere – from the janitor to the CEO. Great ideas can help change the world. Let them know their ideas are being reviewed by HR and one or more may be put into place.
Looking for Unique DEI Activities?
If you want some new activities on diversity, equity, and inclusion, you can get my short e-book:
Or Want Unique Activities for All the Stages of Team Building?
If you want some unique activities for all the team building stages, you can get my main e-book:
The more your employees are cognizant of their own prejudicial thoughts and behaviors, the more like it is that you can build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Hopefully, the above diversity, equity, and inclusion activities will help you accomplish that.
FAQ: DEI Activities for the Workplace
You might have these questions in mind.
What are DEI activities?
DEI activities are exercises that help create a sense of belonging among employees by fostering empathy and respect. With these activities, you build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
How do I know if my DEI activities are successful?
To gauge the effectiveness of the DEI activities, monitor how well employees work alongside their colleagues from varying backgrounds. If you observe an increase in acceptance, communication, and collaboration between them, then you can conclude that the activities have been successful.
What are the best DEI initiatives?
The best DEI initiatives vary from organization to organization as each workplace has its own culture and needs. Some examples of DEI initiatives that have been successful in other organizations include cultural diversity training, creating a more diverse and inclusive hiring process, and establishing employee resource groups.