Does your company have a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) plan? Studies show that a DEI program is most effective when it is voluntary, engaging, and part of a larger corporate culture of social accountability.
In this post, we’re sharing 17+ virtual DEI activities that will help your remote team learn and grow together. With these ideas, you can spark meaningful dialogue and connection on your team all year round while accomplishing your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
A few of our favorite virtual DEI activities:
Read on for more details on these diversity, equity, and inclusion activities and more ideas.
- Start a DEI book club
- Explore global cultures through food
- Learn about the Indigenous land you’re on
- Host a diversity themed lunch & learn
- Create DEI vision boards with your team
- Virtually visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture
TLDR: in this list, you’ll find:
- virtual diversity & inclusion activities for remote teams
- ways to turn your DEI goals into action
- DEI activities on the topics of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and accessibility
- educational and fun DEI experiences
- DEI activities for Black History Month, Juneteenth, and other holidays
- DEI remote activities
- diversity activities that create belonging
1. Create a Culture of Inclusivity
Before you consider hosting fun, team-based virtual DEI activities, make sure your company’s policies create a top-down culture of inclusivity. This is because it will be challenging for employees to take DEI efforts seriously if, for example, your company’s dress code bans dreadlocks, or if employees do not respect other people’s pronouns.
Creating a culture of inclusivity can go a long way toward helping your team feel appreciated and supported. And, according to Forbes, diverse companies produce 19% more revenue. Once your basic DEI policies are in place, it’s time to start planning some fun team building activities.
See how your company can strengthen your DEI efforts. Explore our blog post: 16+ Ideas to Foster Diversity & Inclusivity for Remote Teams (With Examples!).
2. Play Kazoos and Learn Black Music History: One of Our Favorite Virtual DEI Activities
DEI events often turn into boring diversity training. But, if you choose happy hours that are fun and educational, your employees feel included and engaged.
For example, check out this Music Evolution virtual team building experience. In this event, your group will learn about the history of music with vibrant and knowledgeable guides. In addition, your team will compete in mini kazoo challenges. Plus, an on-site Nashville virtual tour guide will give your team a live look at Music City, USA!
Diversity and inclusivity teams frequently choose this event because it ties Black Music History lessons seamlessly into this session. Discover how learning about complex history and having a positive team experience can go hand in hand.
Your team will also enjoy treat boxes (pictured above). Little-known fact: the kazoo’s origins stem from vibrating, voice altering ceremonial instruments used by African tribes for centuries. The modern kazoo was invented in 1840 by Alabama Vest, a Black man from Macon, GA and his collaborator Thaddeus Von Clegg, a German clockmaker.
Learn more and book your music evolution experience.
3. Honor Important Heritage Months: One of our Favorite Virtual DEI Activities
With companies spread across the country, it can be difficult to honor heritage months like Black History Month or AAPI Month. But, there are many options to help your team working from home. For Black History Month, consider an experience that shares the roots of Black History Month itself. We like that this experience includes live-streaming guides in two important Black neighborhoods. And, it highlights the story of the important Black historian Carter Woodson.
Or, if you want to honor and understand Juneteenth, this highly rated Juneteenth experience will wow your team. With live-streaming guides in Austin and Hampton, this powerful event shares the roots and story of Juneteenth and Emancipation. Employee engagement is at a high with this fast-paced, educational event.
4. Start a DEI Book Club
Reading and discussing a book with your coworkers is a meaningful way to bond and learn together. For this activity, pick a thought-provoking book that explores diversity and inclusion themes. After everyone reads the book, host a video call for your team to share their thoughts and insights. Or, organize a series of monthly book club sessions for deeper, ongoing discussion. Another option is to create Slack channels for these DEI book clubs and groups.
You can choose a nonfiction book to explore real-world events and history. Or, opt for a work of historical fiction or a novel whose protagonist is a member of a marginalized group.
Get started with this list of recommended books to start a DEI book club at your workplace. Another great reading list: Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Classics by Authors of Color.
5. Go “Back to School” Together
In 2021, many DEI courses and programs are available online for free. Your team can take a class together for an afternoon or over the course of several weeks. Rather than making this activity a mandatory training, the idea is to spark curiosity and share knowledge for those who want to learn.
Explore a wide variety of other free university courses at edx.org.
6. Research the Indigenous Land You’re On
Did you know that you can search your address at native-land.ca and see which Indigenous lands you’re on? For example, Unexpected Virtual Tours is located on traditional territory of the Muscogee/Creek Nation.
With your team, research the history of the land on which your company is located. For teams that are scattered in different areas, each team member can research the land they are on. Then, share your findings and reflections during a conversation based video call. This is a culturally sensitive way to talk about important history that is rarely discussed.
7. For Marketing and Web Design Teams: Host a DEI Redesign Session
If your team manages your company’s marketing or web design efforts, host an intensive DEI redesign session. This can be structured similarly to a hack-a-thon event.
Set a goal – for example, auditing all of your company’s web pages in one 3-hour session to provide a more inclusive user experience. Give employees a stipend to order some food, then get to work! Some ideas for your redesign session:
- Brainstorm ways in which your company’s current materials could be more inclusive
- Replace your website’s stock images with photos that reflect your community
- Install an accessibility widget like UserWay on your company’s website
- Review your company materials and remove gendered language. For example, you can replace “chairman” with “chair” or “ladies and gentlemen” with “distinguished guests.”
8. Explore Global Cultures through Food: One of Our Favorite Virtual DEI Activities
Learning about cultures and traditions around the globe can be both enlightening and delicious. Learn how to make Mexican street tacos, Korean kimchi, soulful biscuits, and much more. Plus, it will make your remote work more delicious!
Airbnb’s online experiences offer cooking demonstrations and lessons from knowledgeable chefs around the world. Many classes include lessons on the history and culture behind the food. Dive deeper with your team and challenge everyone to research and share one unexpected fact about the dish you’ll be preparing or the country where it originated.
Check out all of Airbnb’s global cooking class experiences.
9. Share the Story Behind Your Name
It’s a common saying among salespeople that everyone’s favorite sound in the world is their own name. Addressing someone by their name can help build connection and rapport. In fact, many of us have so intertwined our personal identities with our names that the two concepts are almost identical in our minds.
As a result, one popular virtual DEI activity is to host a “name story” session. Each team member gets a turn to share their full name and the story behind it. For example, you could share whether you were named after someone – a relative, a song, etc. Or, share if your name has a special meaning in your culture. You can also share a childhood nickname or what you love about your name.
While this activity can be fun, it can also bring up difficult emotions or painful memories. As a result, it’s best to make this event an optional, casual session. Also, be sure to explain the activity to everyone beforehand.
View a step-by-step guide to hosting a name story virtual DEI activity.
10. Explore Privilege Together
Privilege refers to the ways in which society accepts certain traits as the “default” and tends to give people with those traits the benefit of the doubt. For example, many people think of “able-bodied” as the default in our society. As a result, they may not consider people who use wheelchairs when designing a retail store’s layout. Or, a graphic designer may create print materials with small text that is unreadable to people who are visually impaired.
This 4-minute-long YouTube video explores the complex ideas behind the concept of privilege. Watch it together with your team, then discuss your reactions afterward. This can result in an emotionally raw conversation. Again, be sure employees are prepared for this topic and emphasize that the activity is optional.
Sometimes, the idea of hosting a conversation about privilege can sound intimidating. This blog post from HR Zone will walk you through how to have this discussion in a corporate setting with inclusive language.
11. Virtually Visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture
The NMAAHC is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. Located in Washington DC, the museum offers virtual curator chats, video archives, and resources on talking about race. Here are a few of our favorite offerings for virtual DEI activities:
Curator Chat Series: A Deeper Look at Cultural Expressions with Dr. Joanne Hyppolite, Supervisory Curator of the African Diaspora at the museum. Get an up-close look at the museum’s Cultural Expressions exhibit.
Collection Story: Seeing Black Women in Power – a collection of photos, text, and videos. This resource explores the art, activism, and voices of Black women in the 1960s and 1970s.
- Search the museum’s collection digitally. View photographs, garments, and other objects in the NMAAHC’s collection. Zoom in to get an up-close look. You can also read about each object’s history and details.
“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”
– Rosa Parks
12. Take One of Harvard’s Free Implicit Association Tests (IAT)
These online tests measure our underlying socially ingrained attitudes, beliefs, and biases. For many people, an Implicit Association Test can uncover biases that the test-taker was unaware of within themselves.
For example, IAT points out that even if you believe that women and men should be equally associated with science, you may subconsciously associate men with science more so than women.
Choose from a variety of Implicit Association Tests to examine the way in which you perceive people of different races, gender identities, weights, and more. Then, host a discussion session for everyone to explore their thoughts and reflections. The tests take around 10 minutes each, with photos and words coming in rapid-fire succession.
Learn more and take the test here.
13. Discover Shared Life Experiences
Try a virtual twist on a popular DEI activity. During this game, everyone starts with their cameras off. Then, a facilitator reads a prompt. For example, “Turn your camera on if you studied your ancestors’ history in grade school.” While these questions may be difficult, they help us identify common experiences. As a result, team members can feel less isolated in their struggles.
At the same time, this game can help expose inequalities in our world that some participants may not have previously recognized. Be sure to share expectations ahead of time, so participants know they will be discussing sensitive topics and lived experiences.
More prompt ideas: turn your camera on if…
- You grew up expecting to go to college
- You’ve never felt embarrassed or judged for your sexual orientation
- When you look at how your local government is comprised, you feel represented
- You have never wondered where your next meal would come from
- You’ve never struggled to find a makeup or beauty product that was made for your skin tone
- You’re generally able to observe religious holidays without obligations or meeting requests from work or school
14. Create an Internal DEI Newsletter
Does your company have an internal newsletter? If so, consider regularly adding a section with DEI initiatives and resources!
Some ideas of what to include in your DEI Newsletter:
- Upcoming DEI-focused company events and initiatives
- Multicultural holidays and other times of observance. For example, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Juneteenth, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc.
- Diversity-focused scholarship opportunities in the community for continued learning
15. Host a Diversity Themed Virtual Lunch & Learn: One of Our Favorite Virtual DEI Activities
Ask everyone to participate in a virtual “potluck” style lunch and learn! Encourage your team to show up with a dish that’s culturally significant to them. This might be a recipe passed down for generations. Or, team members can research their lineage and choose a new dish that’s reflective of their culture.
If employees feel they don’t have a recipe that fits the bill, then encourage them to choose a dish from someplace they’ve selected and researched instead. In this way, everyone can learn more about global cultures and traditions. Additionally, your team members will learn new things about each other and bond together.
16. Create Diversity Vision Boards Together
Encourage your team members to gather up old magazines, newspapers, ads, and junk mail. Then, get to work with scissors and glue, creating diversity themed vision boards together on a video call. You can snip images of people, empowering words and phrases, or quotes that inspire you.
In the process of creating your vision boards, you may notice that the materials you’re snipping from aren’t actually that diverse. For example, you might struggle to find a magazine ad featuring a wheelchair user. On the other hand, you might be pleasantly surprised to see that your favorite newspaper does feature diverse community stories and experiences.
Either way, this activity is sure to prompt discussion with your team. And, at the end of the event, you’ll each have a tactile, visual reminder of the importance of diversity.
17. Explore Fatphobia in Society and Corporate Health Norms
Did you know that weight discrimination in the workplace is legal in 48 states? A study from Vanderbilt found that fat women also tend to receive lower incomes than thin counterparts.
Our societal norms enforce the idea that a thin body is a healthy one, despite overwhelming evidence that indicates other ideas. In an attempt to inspire workers to be healthy, many companies cross the line into fatphobia and fat-shaming. For example, some companies might try to inspire employees to be “healthier” by sharing lower-calorie recipes or hosting HR weight loss challenges.
Take time to examine your company’s potential biases toward slimmer workers, and consider the ways in which some communications may be perceived as shaming or judgmental to people in larger bodies.
Learn more by reading this Nylon article: How Fatphobia has Cemented Itself in the American Workplace.
Frequently Asked Questions about Virtual DEI Activities
What does DEI stand for?
DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Let’s explore what each of these words means, as defined by Merriam Webster:
The state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization. Note: “diversity” can also refer to race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and differing life experiences.
Fairness or justice in the way people are treated.
The act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability)
Why does diversity, equity, and inclusion matter?
Many companies are focusing on DEI activities as a way to create a welcoming, inclusive work environment. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to show up to work as their authentic self and be included, respected, valued, and even celebrated.
Additionally, creating a culture of inclusivity is a financially savvy move. Many studies show that companies comprised of a more diverse staff and board of directors tend to perform better financially.
What types of DEI events work best?
According to Harvard Business Review, DEI efforts work best when managers and leaders are involved from the start. But – how can you begin the conversation? Planning a virtual DEI team building activity is a great way to begin a dialogue and spark conversations.
For the best results, aim for an activity that combines learning with interactive fun. For example, plan a virtual quiz or a challenge where everyone can participate. You’ll avoid “Zoom fatigue” AND create a more engaging session for your team.
Remember, some DEI topics can be incredibly somber or sensitive. Be sure to allow space for thoughtful reflection and even mourning when appropriate.
How can I start planning virtual DEI activities for my team?
Planning a DEI event is easier than you might think! Of course, you can find plenty of DIY activities and suggestions in this blog post.
If you’d rather leave the planning to someone else, then consider hiring Unexpected Virtual Tours to handle the details!
Our virtual experiences are loved by the world’s most successful companies! Our satisfied clients include Google, The Home Depot, UPS, Salesforce, Coca-Cola, and more.
For a virtual DEI experience, pick from topics like Black History Month, Juneteenth, Street Art, and Evolution of Music. Our expert guides will lead your team through interactive fun activities that get everyone learning, building team morale, and reflecting together.
By planning engaging, hands-on virtual DEI activities, you can create a workplace where everyone on your team feels welcome and supported.