Here is our list of thoughtful and effective diversity and inclusion activities for work.
Diversity and inclusion activities are ideas that you can use to promote workers’ unique individuality and create a sense of belonging for your workforce regardless of differences. Examples include diversity calendar celebration, cooking lessons, and speak your truth sessions. These activities aim to recognize all workers regardless of background, culture, and individual traits. Diversity and inclusion activities also foster team bonding while helping companies retain diverse talents. These ideas are also known as “DEI activities.”
These initiatives are examples of employee engagement campaigns and professional development exercises and are in-person versions of virtual diversity activities. Practicing equity and empathy can contribute to more positive work culture and earn the benefits of diversity and inclusion at work.
This list includes:
- inclusion activities for adults
- diversity team building activities
- diversity icebreakers
- diversity and inclusion games
Here we go!
List of diversity and inclusion activities
Creating an inclusive work environment where organizations appreciate and accept all workers is vital. From story links and snapshot boards to bias jars, here is a list of our best diversity and inclusion activities.
1. Diversity flower
The diversity flower activity is among the best light-hearted diversity icebreakers that you can use to enable teams to learn more about each other.
- You will start by dividing teams into groups of eight to ten participants.
- Provide teams with drawing papers and colorful markers.
- Let each team draw a flower that has a large center. The flower petals should equal the number of players on each team.
- Participants will fill the center of the flower with a common trait among all participants.
- Let teams fill the petals with unique traits about themselves.
- Teams will then exchange the flowers made with other groups and discuss the common and unique traits.
The diversity flower activity is a great way to discuss the teams’ diverse nature. You will also foster team bonding as players get to interact with each other.
2. Snapshot board
A snapshot board is an area in the office where workers can display essential aspects of their lives that can spark diversity talk. For this activity, start by setting up a diversity snapshot board in a shared office area. If you have a large workforce, then you can set up departmental snapshot boards. Then, let workers bring in pictures that can spark diversity talks. Teams will then take turns to discuss the significance of the photographs.
For instance, workers can bring pictures taken at a famous local landmark or with their grandparents. The display of such diverse information can help workers ease into discussing their differences and similarities. Workers will also grasp and understand the perspective of other teams on vital matters, which can help avert work-related conflicts.
Check out more office bulletin board ideas.
3. I am, but I am not
The ‘I am, but I am not’ is among the best diversity and inclusion games for workplaces. The activity helps to break down stereotypes and misconceptions among teams.
- You can start by providing each participant with plain paper and a pen.
- Each player will divide the paper into two. Participants will write ‘I am’ in one column and ‘I am not’ in the other. Ask participants to write ‘But’ between the two columns.
- Give participants five minutes to fill both columns. Participants can fill the sections with common identifier stereotypes such as race, gender identity, religion, education background, and socio-economic status. Encourage players to fill in both negative and positive stereotypes.
Invite participants to share statements written with their team. Then, groups can open a respectful discussion about the stereotypes.
While sharing some of these statements may make some workers uncomfortable, the ‘I am, but I am not’ activity will help to eliminate stereotypes.
4. Story links
If you want to teach your team the art of storytelling while fostering diversity and inclusion, then the story links activity is a must-try. For this activity, teams will have an inclusion and diversity session based on real-life stories and unique experiences. You can start the exercise or choose a team leader to initiate the story link. The team leader will start the story with a statement. Then, another worker will continue the story until all players have participated.
For instance, the team player can start the conversation with ‘Last year, my friends and I traveled via the Pan-African Highway from my hometown, Alaska, to Mexico’. And another team player will continue the statement with ‘I sure hope you tried our Mexican signature dishes like Tostadas, Mole, and Menudo.’ Other teammates will add in accordingly.
The story links allow teams to start a diversity and inclusion conversation easily. You can have a themed story link such as travel, food, and ancestry, or let the story flow naturally.
5. Potluck lunch
Potluck lunch is among the best diversity team building activities for your team. For this activity, let teams bring in dishes inspired by their heritage and culture. To ensure you have various food items, you can ask some participants to bring in starters while others bring main meals, desserts, drinks, and snacks.
A potluck lunch offers workers an opportunity for teams to bond as participants explore food from different regions. You can let workers talk about the origin of the food, their favorite food from their culture, and foods they think that every participant must try. Let workers also share nearby restaurants where teams can get the dishes.
6. Diversity calendar celebration
Observing the calendar around equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging is among the best inclusion activities for adults. These celebrations will require you to do ample research on the team’s holidays and special days.
Examples of holidays that you can observe:
- Disability Employment Awareness Month
- International Women’s Day
- World Day for Cultural Diversity
- World Gratitude Day
- International Music Day
- World Food Day
- St. George’s Day
- Buddha’s Birthday Holiday
- Mother’s Day
- Black History Month
- Pride Month
You do not have to give teams an off day during every holiday or observation. However, you can take simple gestures such as a happy hour, office games, or wishing players a happy holiday. Commemorating holidays as a team will go a long way in reinforcing diversity and inclusion in your company.
7. Book club
A book club is a great way that you can use to ensure your workforce learns about other workers’ experiences. For book club diversity and inclusion activities, you can select one book that your workforce will read two weeks before celebrating any cultural identity holiday.
For instance, books about the history of Pride will help your workforce remove misconceptions and promote inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. You can also select books on age and generation disparities, race and ethnicity, disability, spiritual beliefs, and cultural diversity.
Here is a list of books on inclusion and diversity.
8. Step apart and together
‘Step apart and together’ is an activity you can use to bring teams together despite their differences.
- You can start by dividing your workforce into smaller groups.
- Let two participants stand in front of their group while facing each other.
- Team players will call out diversity groupings such as age, hair color, race, culture, place of birth, and religion.
- Each time the participants have a difference, they will step apart. And each time they have a similarity, they will step close to each other.
The ‘step apart and together’ activity will teach your team that they are still teammates despite any apparent diverse differences.
9. Disability awareness training
As disabled workers continue to be impacted from unconscious biases in the workplace, you can take part in eliminating workplace discrimination. Regular disability inclusion work training can help your workforce be more conscious of their colleagues, help workers communicate freely regardless of their disabilities, and make the workplace welcoming for all workers.
You can also make your workplace more inclusive to disabled workers by ensuring that your workplace makes the physical environment more disability-friendly.
Check out disability awareness ideas.
10. Icebreaker questions
Diversity and inclusion icebreakers a simple yet effective activity that can open up the conversation. For this activity, you can provide teams with fun questions that allow participants to express their interests and personality.
- What food did you most enjoy growing up?
- What was your first international trip?
- What is the history of your lineage?
- Does your name have religious and ethnic meanings?
- Who gave you your name and why?
- How did you get your nickname in school?
Instead of teams offering one-word answers, let participants open up a discussion on in-depth topics. For instance, let teams state which food they enjoyed growing up and give a short history of the dish.
Here are more icebreaker questions.
11. Bias jar
A bias jar is one of the best inclusion activities for adults to help eliminate bias in the workplace. You will set up a jar in a common office area for this activity. Any worker that breaks the guideline must put a dollar into the jar. For instance, you can instruct workers to put a dollar into the pot each time they use non-inclusive language to call another worker. One of the most commonly used non-inclusive terms at work is ‘guys’.
Ensure that all participants are aware of the rules. You can use the proceeds generated to support an initiative that aims to reduce diversity and inclusion bias in the workplace.
12. Cooking lessons
Learning about another culture’s food is a great way to promote worker bonding amid cultural differences. For the cooking lessons you can ask each participant to list foods from a different heritage that they want to learn how to cook. You can then go ahead and schedule a cooking class with a renowned chef or let a team player from a specific heritage teach the team how to make the meal. For instance, teams can learn how to make sushi, ugali, pasta, or apple pies.
Here is a list of online group cooking classes.
13. Film sessions
If you are looking for fun diversity team building activities for your workforce, then you must try out film sessions. Film sessions offer more interactive and bonding inclusion training sessions. For this activity, you can start by looking for films that promote diversity and inclusion. For instance, a cross-cultural movie will open up conversations about your team’s heritage.
To enhance team bonding, the entire team can visit a movie theatre, or you can rent a projector so every worker can watch in a fun space. You can lead the team in discussing lessons from the film.
14. Generational perspectives
A generational gap is a major reason some workers may feel excluded in a workspace. To avoid age-based workplace discrimination, you can initiate generational perspectives from your team. For instance, playing music each generation enjoys is a sure way to promote team bonding. You can also have a trivia session where teams answer questions about their growing-up experiences. Getting generational perspectives from groups will create an inclusive environment for all workers regardless of huge age gaps.
15. Speak your truth sessions
Speak your truth sessions are activities that encourage workers to open up about any discrimination they have faced. You can have an open and honest session where you ask workers questions that will lead to inclusion conversations
- Tell us your discrimination experience. What happened?
- What actions would you take if you noticed your colleague is being openly discriminated against?
- What policies would you put in place to enhance inclusion if you were the company director?
The ‘speak your truth’ activity can lead teams to open up about difficult conversations that would be difficult to initiate with other light-hearted discussions. Be sure to give a trigger warning to workers who are not yet ready to share their experiences.
16. Unconscious bias training
Your team may have picked some bias from the society in which they live. Unconscious bias training programs are exercises that aim to expose workers to their implicit biases. The training will also guide teams in adjusting automatic patterns of thinking and help eliminate discriminatory behaviors.
Examples of unconscious bias:
- Favoring a specific gender in the hiring process
- Gender pay gap
- Discrimination of older workers
- Favoring workers who you consider more attractive
- Favoring employees who share similar backgrounds, interests, or experiences
- Interacting only with colleagues who have the same religious beliefs
- Failing to help a colleague due to their political affiliation
- Declining to pair with LGBTQ+ teammates, or assuming that LGBTQ+ coworkers are in heterosexual relationships and referencing an opposite sex spouse
While you cannot prevent the influence of societal bias, discrimination training sessions will make your team more self-aware and prevent workplace bias.
17. What do we have in common
The ‘what do we have in common’ activity is among the best diversity icebreakers that can bring teams together.
- Start by dividing your team into groups of three
- The three workers will stand in a circle
- Give teams two minutes to find three traits that all players have in common. Participants should not list apparent traits such as gender or hair color
- The group that finishes the activity first sits
- Once done, let participants pair up with other players and repeat the exercise
Pro tip: Let teams list traits unrelated to their job. Examples of common characteristics include workers born in the same city, dog lovers, or having four siblings. The ‘what do we have in common’ activity will show teams’ similarities despite apparent differences like race, disability, or religion.
18. Just by looking at me
The ‘just by looking at me activity’ is a clever way that you can ease teams into disclosing personal information that may be a source of bias. This activity demonstrates to groups that there is more to a worker than what the eye sees.
- Teams will form a circle with chairs facing each other.
- Participants will introduce themselves and state one trait that other workers cannot tell by looking at them. For example:
- My name is….
- One thing you cannot tell about me is.…
- It is important for you to know this because….
- Participants are free to share as many traits that can teach the importance of inclusion at work.
The ‘just by looking at me’ activity will teach teams the importance of looking beyond physical appearances and pave the way for meaningful connections.
19. Life map
The life map diversity and inclusion activity is perfect for large and diverse workforces. This activity will help teams learn more about each other’s origin, growth, and future plans. Participants will also learn how certain events have shaped other players’ lives.
- Start by offering each participant a drawing paper and a pen.
- Let workers write their origin, growth journey, and what they want to achieve in the future within five minutes. All writing will be anonymous. Teams can share as much or as little information as they wish.
- Once every participant has completed the activity, let all players fold the paper and toss it around the room.
- Each participant will pick the closest paper near them and read it out.
- All workers will take turns guessing which employee wrote the paper.
After the activity, hold a discussion and let each participant state one trait they have learned about a random colleague. Be considerate of workers who do not want to participate or reveal specific details.
20. Diversity and inclusion-driven brands support
Supporting diversity and inclusion-driven brands is among the easiest inclusion activities for adults at work. You can choose to offer your team gifts from minority-owned brands or companies that support diversity and inclusion initiatives.
To make the activity more interesting, ask each team to share one brand that the company should support. Then, surprise workers with goodies from the company, whether meal coupons, snacks, clothing, or work equipment.
Diversity and inclusion activities promote a sense of belonging and acceptance among your workforce. Hence, the activities will increase workers’ engagement and efficiency. Incorporating diversity and inclusion activities will also help you retain top diverse talents and promote team bonding. Be sure that your organization leads by example by ensuring equality for all workers regardless of race, abilities, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and personality.
We also have a list of Pride Month ideas for work and a list of the best diversity and inclusion quotes for work.