Does your company have a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) plan? Studies show that a DEI program is most effective when it is voluntary, participatory, and part of a larger corporate culture of social accountability.
In this post, we’re sharing 10+ 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.
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, or any time of year
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. Learn & Groove with a Music Evolution Virtual Experience: One of Our Favorite Virtual DEI Activities
Unexpected Virtual Tours’ most popular event is this music-based virtual team building experience. In this event, your group will learn about the history of music with vibrant and knowledgeable guides. The 1.5-hour session includes musical team building 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) that include Rap Snack Cardi B chips, Teabook ArtisTeas, gourmet popcorn, moonshiner truffles, a kazoo for musical challenges, and a custom corporate card with your logo. 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 about the music evolution experience.
3. 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.
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.
4. 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.
- Gender Equality and Sexual Diversity, Udemy
- Justice (Intro to Moral and Political Philosophy), Harvard
- Writing for Social Justice, UC Berkeley
Explore a wide variety of other free university courses at edx.org.
5. 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.
Learn how to respectfully conduct an Indigenous land acknowledgment.
6. 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 unnecessarily gendered language. For example, you can replace “chairman” with “chair” or “ladies and gentlemen” with “distinguished guests.”
Want to diversify your company’s stock photos, but you’re not sure where to start? Check out this roundup of diverse stock photo resources.
7. 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.
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.
8. 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 indistinguishable 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Explore the museum’s website and digital offerings here.
“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.”
– Rosa Parks
By planning engaging, hands-on virtual DEI activities, you can create a workplace where everyone on your team feels welcome and supported.