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12 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Activities for the Office

12 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Activities for the Office

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential in the modern workplace. In this post, you’ll find a dozen engaging ideas and diversity and inclusion activities for your team.

Prioritizing DEI initiatives can lead to higher retention rates and employee engagement, as employees feel included and valued for their unique perspectives. A diverse workforce can also foster creativity, problem-solving, and innovative ideas. Additionally, studies have shown companies with diverse leadership teams often outperform competitors.

Overall, embracing DEI in the workplace enhances employee satisfaction and business performance. Consider the following 12 diversity and inclusion activities to recognize diversity at work, engage and educate your teams, all while fostering a fun work culture.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Activities for the Office:

  • Interactive learning and discussion activities
  • Media and art-based activities
  • Openly celebrating and acknowledging diversity
  • Highlighting external perspectives and experiences
  • Personal story and experience sharing amongst employees

In this list, you’ll find:

  • Ideas for empowering diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Diversity and inclusion activities for teams
  • Team bonding activities for workplaces, big or small
  • The benefits of DEI initiatives for companies
  • Frequently asked questions about diversity and inclusion activities

Workplace Diversity Activities

What Do Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mean?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential for a healthy and productive work environment. Diversity encompasses individual differences like race, gender, age, religion, and more. Equity ensures fairness by providing fair opportunities and treatment for all. Lastly, inclusion creates an atmosphere where every individual feels valued and welcomed.

A diverse workforce brings creativity and innovation, while equity fosters trust and loyalty. Additionally, inclusive practices encourage open communication and collaboration. Collectively, these can lead to higher employee morale and engagement.

However, ignoring DEI has detrimental consequences. For instance, these can include a work environment in which workers feel demotivated or unwelcome – as well as reduced teamwork and productivity. Furthermore, neglecting DEI can damage a company’s reputation and even lead to legal repercussions.

Why is DEI Important in the Workplace?

When implemented correctly, DEI initiatives can empower workers and strengthen office cultures. Benefits for teams can include higher revenue, improved retention and recruiting, increased creativity and collaboration, and better decision-making.

Don’t just take our word for it! In fact, McKinsey & Company found that gender-diverse executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability, while ethnically diverse executive teams were 36% more likely to outperform competitors financially. Plus, Boston Consulting Group’s study revealed that diverse management teams generated 19% higher revenue from new products and services.

Overall, prioritizing DEI initiatives not only demonstrates social responsibility but also yields significant rewards in competitiveness, innovation, and financial success.

Current State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

DEI Trends

Currently, DEI in workplaces worldwide is gaining attention. However, significant progress is still needed. Recent statistics reveal that although awareness is growing, many organizations struggle to achieve meaningful representation and inclusion.

A 2021 Deloitte report showed that only 12% of surveyed companies felt they had a strong DEI program, despite 80% acknowledging its importance. Common challenges include resistance to change, lack of leadership commitment, and unconscious biases influencing decision-making.

To address these issues, forward-thinking companies are investing in comprehensive DEI training programs to raise awareness of unconscious biases. They are also prioritizing diverse hiring practices and establishing structured diversity recruiting initiatives. Additionally, many are forming diversity and inclusion councils or employee resource groups to ensure diverse voices are heard.

How to Measure the Success of Your DEI Initiatives

Evaluating DEI initiatives is vital for effectiveness and data-driven improvements. We suggest implementing regular employee surveys to assess inclusion, belonging, and growth opportunities. Plus, look to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) such as diversity representation, turnover rates, and pay equity.

By tracking these indicators, you can refine your DEI strategies and find more success amongst your activities. As you go, create targeted programs to address concerns, improve leadership diversity, and enhance diversity training. Additionally, benchmarking against industry standards and peer organizations can help to guide efforts to remain competitive in promoting DEI.

How to Implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion Activities in the Workplace

Successfully implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach. Begin by establishing a clear DEI strategy with specific, measurable goals.

Strategies can include training programs and workshops to raise awareness of biases and promote inclusivity. Plus, diversifying the workforce and creating an inclusive environment where all workers feel valued and empowered is vital.

In the next sections, we’ll explore 12 diversity and inclusion activities to help implement DEI in the workplace!

Interactive Learning and Discussion Activities

1. Privilege Walk

Expand employees’ understanding of their own identity and others’ identities with the “Privilege Walk” game. Get started by explaining to participants that we all have privileges, both visible and hidden.

In an open space, ask participants to stand shoulder to shoulder in a line. Then, have an activity leader read aloud a series of statements. Instruct participants to take one step forward for each statement that applies to their life experience.

For instance, statements might include, “If you come from a single-parent background, take a step back.” Or, “If your race or sex is widely represented in your government, take a step forward.” After 20-30 statements are read aloud, prompt participants to acknowledge where they stand in the room amongst others.

Finally, conclude the exercise with a group discussion on feelings that arose for participants, what differences were noticed, and what insights were learned about one another.


2. I am, but I am not

This game is perfect for teams looking to address the use of stereotypes and cultural misconceptions. Here’s how to play:

First, provide each participant with paper and a pen. Then, instruct each player to divide their paper into two columns and label them as ‘I am’ and ‘I am not,’ with the word ‘But’ between the two columns.

Next, allow participants five minutes to fill both columns with common identifier stereotypes, such as race, gender identity, and more. Plus, encourage workers to include both negative and positive stereotypes. For instance – this might read: “I am young, but I am not naive.” Or, “I was incarcerated, but I am a good person with a lot to give.”

Finally, invite employees to each share their statements. Encourage respectful discussion around the shared stereotypes. As a company, challenge false narratives and collectively eliminate stereotypes that may be held amongst the workplace. You might even try substituting ‘but’ with ‘and’ to see how it feels when these ideas come together. For instance: “I was incarcerated, AND I am a good person with a lot to give.”

Media and Art-Based Activities

3. Cinema Series

Tap into the world of film with movie screenings! Watching diverse movies as a company can support diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. That’s because films from diverse backgrounds and cultures offer a unique opportunity to expose workers to different perspectives and experiences.

Plus, movie screenings can serve as a catalyst for conversations on social issues. As a result, you can spark engagement and awareness within your workplace.

In-persona and remote teams can introduce casual movie Fridays, start a new month with this team building exercise, or plan an after-work social event. Be sure to ask team members for film suggestions and set time aside for discussions after watching to cultivate a more inclusive work environment with this activity!

Diversity and Inclusion Activities Book Club

4. Book Club

Bring employees together to explore literature that delves into diverse perspectives, cultures, and experiences. Book clubs create an inclusive space for meaningful discussions. Additionally, book clubs serve as a platform for promoting empathy, understanding, and open dialogue on a variety of DEI topics.

Reading and discussing books from various authors and backgrounds will enable coworkers to challenge biases and expand their ways of thinking. Furthermore, through a shared literary journey, companies can strengthen their sense of community to develop a more inclusive work culture.

Celebration and Acknowledgment of Diversity

5. Celebrate Diverse Holidays

By recognizing and embracing holidays from various cultures and traditions, companies can demonstrate a genuine commitment to valuing employees’ backgrounds. This activity fosters a sense of belonging and appreciation, allowing every company member to feel respected and included in the workplace.

Celebrating diverse holidays also provides an opportunity for cultural education. During this activity, employees can share and learn about different customs, beliefs, and histories. Moreover, these celebrations can inspire creativity and collaboration as employees come together to organize and participate in meaningful cultural events.

Above all, celebrating diverse holidays cultivates a more inclusive workplace where each individual can bring their authentic self to the workplace. Check out this diversity calendar for a wide range of diverse holidays to celebrate in the workplace.

Diverse Food Potluck

6. Cultural Potlucks

For a company full of foodies, host a cultural potluck! Invite employees to bring dishes that represent their cultural heritage for a shared lunch.

Encourage participants to share the stories behind their dishes. As a result, employees can gain a deeper understanding of each other’s backgrounds and experiences.

This cultural exchange can help to break down stereotypes and encourage a sense of unity among teams. Additionally, diverse cultural potlucks allow employees to showcase their heritage proudly, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment.

External Perspectives and Experiences

7. Attend Virtual Tours

Together, tap into virtual tours and sightseeing of various historic sites, organizations, and cultural landmarks. By doing so, all types of teams can explore diverse perspectives and experiences from the comfort of their own space.

This exposure to different cultures, histories, and traditions fosters a greater sense of empathy and understanding among company members. Virtual tours also provide an opportunity to learn about the contributions and challenges of underrepresented communities.

Check out a full list of virtual events from Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training to easily plan this activity for your team – with a company trusted by Google, Salesforce, Coca-Cola, and more!

Diversity Guest Speaker

8. Host Guest Speakers

Invite guest speakers to bring fresh perspectives and enrich the learning environment for your employees. Speakers can share insights into their personal journeys, challenges, and successes.

Through their stories, employees gain a broader awareness of the diverse world we live in and the importance of embracing and celebrating differences. Additionally, diverse guest speakers can serve as role models, inspiring individuals from different identity groups to pursue their aspirations within the organization.

This activity ensures that all voices are heard and valued. Thus, leading to a more engaged, motivated, and collaborative workforce.

Browse a variety of guest speakers from All American Speakers. Topics include anti-racism, neurodiversity, cultural holidays and topics, Indigenous heritage, and more.

DEI Awareness and Training

9. Unconscious Bias Training

Unconscious bias training sessions expose employees to their implicit biases. Plus, help them recognize and adjust automatic patterns of thinking that may lead to discriminatory behaviors. Together, look to address examples of unconscious bias, such as:

  • Pay gaps in gender or race
  • Gender favoritism in hiring
  • Age discrimination
  • Favoritism based on appearance or shared backgrounds

Increasing self-awareness through these sessions ensures that team members are more conscious of their biases and better equipped to prevent workplace discrimination. While societal bias cannot be entirely eradicated, unconscious bias training fosters a culture of inclusion and respect.

To get started, try an online Implicit Association Test organized by Harvard University.

DEI Disability Awareness Training

10. Disability Awareness Training

Disabled workers often face unconscious biases in the workplace and beyond, leading to discrimination and exclusion. By providing regular disability inclusion training, employees become more aware of their colleagues’ needs and challenges.

This training activity helps promote open communication and encourages workers to interact freely regardless of disabilities. As a result, disabled workers will feel more included and valued.

Look to Forbes’ Ways To Promote Disability Awareness In The Workplace article to get started.

Personal Story and Experience Sharing

11. Just By Looking At Me

The ‘just by looking at me’ game encourages teams to share personal information that may be subject to bias. In this activity, participants form a circle, introduce themselves, and share one trait that others cannot tell by appearance.

While emphasizing that there is more to a person than meets the eye, this activity promotes the importance of inclusion at work. Together, foster meaningful connections and look beyond physical appearances. As a result, expand your understanding of your team’s diversity and highlight ways to empower equity.

Generations in the Workplace

12. Generational perspectives

Generational gaps in the workplace can lead to misunderstandings, communication barriers, and feelings of exclusion among team members of any age. However, taking intentional steps to encourage generational perspectives can help create a more cohesive and understanding company culture.

Seek out generational perspectives and encourage open discussions about unique experiences. This can help enhance team dynamics and problem-solving capabilities. Each generation brings its own set of strengths, perspectives, and insights, which makes each valuable contributors to the team’s success.

By acknowledging and valuing diverse generational viewpoints, create an inclusive environment where every team member feels heard, respected, and valued, regardless of their age.

For more concrete ideas: consider volunteering as a team with a local organization serving teens or elders. Or, organize a cross-generational mentor program or “buddy system” to encourage learning and dialogue, regardless of age.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a DEI program include?

A DEI program should include a clear and well-defined strategy with specific goals and measurable objectives. It should involve leadership commitment and support, ensuring that DEI is embedded as a core value throughout the organization. The program should encompass initiatives from diverse hiring practices, to creating an inclusive work environment where all employees feel valued and empowered.

How frequently should I organize DEI activities in the workplace?

The frequency of organizing diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace will depend on the size of the organization, specific DEI goals, and the resources available. In general, it is essential to maintain consistent and ongoing efforts to foster an inclusive culture. Monthly or quarterly DEI activities can be effective in keeping the momentum and ensuring continuous progress.

Diversity and Inclusion Activities

How can I ensure that DEI activities are inclusive and comfortable for all employees?

Start by involving diverse voices in the planning and development process. Seek input from employees with different backgrounds and perspectives to create activities that resonate with the entire workforce. Plus, offer multiple formats for participation, such as in-person and virtual options, to accommodate various preferences and accessibility needs. Additionally, encourage open and respectful discussions during activities, fostering an environment where employees feel safe to share their thoughts and experiences.

What kind of budget should I allocate for DEI activities?

The budget allocated for DEI activities will vary depending on the size of the organization and the scope of the initiatives. It’s essential to invest in DEI activities as a long-term strategy rather than a one-time expense. Allocating a meaningful and dedicated budget will demonstrate your organization’s commitment to DEI and enable the implementation of impactful initiatives.

What should I do if some employees resist participating in DEI activities?

Approach these situations with empathy and understanding. Start by listening to their concerns and reasons for resistance without judgment. Communicate with employees the importance of DEI in creating a more inclusive and productive work environment. Then, offer opportunities for education and open dialogue that encourage employees to share their perspectives and engage in the process voluntarily.

How can DEI activities help in reducing workplace discrimination?

DEI activities can help reduce workplace discrimination by fostering awareness and understanding of unconscious biases and prejudices. Through workshops and training sessions, employees gain insights into the impact of discrimination and the importance of inclusivity. As you create an open and inclusive environment, employees are more likely to challenge discriminatory behaviors and attitudes.

Remote Employee

How can I involve remote employees in DEI activities?

Utilize virtual platforms and technology to ensure inclusivity. Conduct online workshops, webinars, and training sessions that employees can attend from anywhere. Additionally, encourage remote employees to participate in employee resource groups or virtual discussion forums.

How can DEI activities be adapted for a diverse workforce with varying needs and abilities?

First, consider providing multiple formats for participation, such as in-person, virtual, and accessible options. Ensure that all materials and resources are available in multiple formats to accommodate language differences and disabilities. Additionally, gather input from employees with varying needs and abilities to tailor the activities and make them more inclusive and relevant to everyone’s experiences.

Amplify Your DEI Efforts With Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training

In summary, DEI is essential in the modern workplace. Prioritizing DEI initiatives leads to numerous benefits for companies including happier employees to increased business performance. Start implementing your DEI strategy and diversity calendar together today with these 12 diversity and inclusion activities!

Looking for more guided activities to amplify your DEI efforts? If so, then Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training has you covered! Our menu of inclusive virtual programming is loved by teams at UPS, The Home Depot, the Gates Foundation, and more. Get started today with our virtual diversity and inclusion activities.

Plus, browse our blog posts further diving into diversity training and DEI training for more ways to amplify your diversity calendar efforts year-round!