Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (also known as DEI) in the workplace is fortunately not a brand new concept to most companies, but it can be a challenging field to navigate as it continues to evolve.
It’s no longer enough for a company to simply release a statement on its stance against racism, sexism, ageism, etc. It’s not enough to write a check to your local philanthropic organization. Supporting DEI activities is no longer seen as solely an HR competency that’s discussed at annual HR conferences.
Diversity and inclusion efforts are a necessary & vital piece of a successful company culture that fosters equality amongst all employees. You can partner with a company like Bambee to help you create a more inclusive working environment.
A robust DEI program should extend beyond recruiting a diverse workforce and mandatory corporate training programs. Great DEI activities help bring your DEI pillars to life. Rather than reading about the importance of diversity and inclusion, employees are able to experience the significance of DEI in action.
Free bonus: Download the 11 Diversity & Inclusion Statistics That Will Change How You Do Business. If your leadership team or key stakeholders need a bit of a nudge, this fact sheet showcases some of the most compelling D&I statistics around.
Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, stated that,
“The best innovations can only come if our people reflect the world’s full diversity of individuals, opinions, and approaches.” This inclusive mindset has a direct impact on not only the culture of a company but its revenue potential as well.
In a McKinsey & Company DEI report, they found that “companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile.”
Additionally, when it came to ethnic and cultural diversity, they saw a similar spike in profitability. Companies in the top quartile outperformed those in the fourth as it relates to profitability by 36%.
With the rise in hybrid and remote work, it can be harder than ever to host diversity and inclusion exercises for your teams. Don’t worry– we’re here to help you navigate how to host fun and useful DEI activities both in person and virtually!
Before we share our favorite diversity activities, let’s first define the components of DEI and just what exactly DEI activities are.
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What are Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Activities?
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Activities (or DEI activities for short) are exercises you can do with your team to promote a workplace culture that values every employee’s unique individuality while also creating a sense of acceptance and belonging.
While diversity, equity, and inclusion are related concepts, they do have their own distinct definitions and values.
- Diversity in the workplace means your workforce is made up of people of different races, genders, ethnic groups, sexual orientations, ages, religions, and additional background factors.
- Equity in the workplace means all employees are treated in a fair and just way. A crucial part of equity is ensuring that every individual employee has what they need to succeed and opportunities to do so.
- Inclusion in the workplace means creating an environment where groups who may have been historically excluded due to gender, race, sexuality, etc., are actively included and valued for their different perspectives.
It’s critical that all three of these concepts are embedded in your company culture and goals.
Now that we understand what DEI is and what DEI activities are, let’s talk about 11 tangible ways you can bring valuable DEI activities to your team!
List of Diversity and Inclusion Activities For Your Team
1) Support DEI Mission-Driven Brands
Supporting brands with a DEI focus is an easy way to begin implementing a DEI initiative at your company. Consider partnering with a black-founded brand or a corporate wellness company that compliments your DEI efforts.
What this diversity activity supports: This DEI activity helps to uplift minority brands who may have been overlooked or are struggling to compete against larger, more established companies and fosters an inclusive workplace.
Tip: Create a diversity and inclusion moment during a meeting by encouraging your team to share 1 of their favorite brands, companies, or products that are either minority-owned or pushing DEI efforts forward in an impactful way.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Stock the break room with diverse brands of all shapes and sizes. There are tons of delicious snacks out there that are healthy to boot!
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Send employees the Amplify Gift Box, which includes exciting products from emerging companies that are women, black, or people of color founded brands.
2) Find Out How Employees Feel
This may seem like an obvious step in launching a DEI project or initiative, but it’s often overlooked. You want to ensure that the roadmap and activities planned are meeting your team’s needs and expectations. It’s also important to set milestone check-ins with your employees to gauge the effectiveness of your diversity and inclusion exercises and overall employee satisfaction levels with the larger DEI initiative.
What this diversity activity supports: Finding out how your employees feel creates a happy workplace where every employee has the opportunity to voice their unique perspectives.
Tip: Don’t limit this practice only to DEI. Gather feedback from your team on other key business and workplace topics as well. You can get more acitionable tips by downloading the free 11 Diversity & Inclusion Statistics That Will Change How You Do Business
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Print and circulate a DEI survey in the office and set up a dropbox where employees can deliver their surveys anonymously.
3) Play DEI Themed Games
Whether looking to host an online group game, find the perfect icebreaker, or host an event in person, there are many DEI-themed games you can do with your team. DEI games allow your team to learn, grow, and have fun all at once.
What this diversity activity supports: Participating in DEI games is a fun way to support employee engagement & learning while also creating a sense of belonging.
Tip: We recommend encouraging team members to participate in DEI games, but not requiring them to do so. Everyone’s comfort level varies depending on the activity and engagement tends to be higher when employees opt in.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Host a fun office activity like Step Apart, Step Together. In this game, 2 team members step apart when the team calls out something they have a difference and step together when they share a similarity. It’s a great way to celebrate differences but shows that commonality exists as well.
4) Share Real Life Stories
DEI training courses can sometimes fall flat when it comes to bringing the importance of DEI to life. Sharing real-life stories add a much-needed personal touch to DEI activities and encourage employees to open up and be empathetic. This is also an awesome way for your employees to get to know one another on a deeper level and appreciate each individual’s experiences & perspective.
What this diversity activity supports: This activity is a great employee engagement idea as it encourages employees to share and actively listen to one another.
Tip: Set some parameters around this activity so people don’t feel forced to share or cornered into speaking about something they’re not comfortable with.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Host small, optional group sessions in the office led by a DEI professional.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Encourage employees to share their unique stories on a company-wide recognition platform like Nectar.
5) Host A DEI-Focused Lunch And Learn
Lunch and learns are a great team-building activity for work because they provide your employees with an opportunity to collectively learn about an engaging topic. Hosting DEI-focused lunch and learn events are a non-intimidating way for your employees to learn more about DEI topics in a more relaxed setting.
What this diversity activity supports: DEI lunch and learns is a fun way to motivate employees to continue their DEI learning journey.
Tip: Generate excitement around the event by sending out invite information well ahead of the event date. Consider recording the lunch and learn session for those who can’t attend.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Partner with a local minority-owned restaurant to have food delivered to the office for your lunch and learn session.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Ahead of your remote lunch and learn, send your employees a digital credit card from Hoppier so they can order in from one of Hoppier’s many vendors.
6) Big Company-Wide Goal
As mentioned earlier, the best DEI programs are embedded within the overall company culture and goals. DEI efforts should not be treated as a checklist, but rather as an ongoing and critical company objective aimed at creating an inclusive culture. By including DEI as a core company pillar, you’re encouraging each employee to add DEI-focused efforts to their goals as well.
What this diversity activity supports: This activity empowers both your leadership team and every employee to prioritize diversity and inclusion activities in order to achieve both their collective and individual goals.
Tip: Utilize employee recognition software to encourage high participation and DEI learning amongst your team.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Host an in-person town hall where leadership can share out the company DEI goals along with the steps planned to achieve them. Be sure to leave time for Q&A towards the end.
7) Follow The Diversity Calendar
When trying to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment, it’s important that your company calendar reflects that diversity. Your calendar should be inclusive of all multicultural and religious holidays, events, and celebrations. It should also take into account important month-long initiatives such as black history month, women’s history month, and LGBT history month, so you can plan meaningful DEI activities and events accordingly.
What this diversity activity supports: Following the Diversity Calendar helps employees of every background feel included and respected in the workplace.
Tip: Do your research when creating your company’s diversity calendar to ensure you don’t miss any critical holidays, events, or opportunities to host timely DEI activities.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: The month of March is women’s history month, so consider hosting an in-person seminar centered around empowering women in business & how to be an ally.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Host a company-wide virtual webinar with a guest speaker who specializes in a DEI topic that is relevant for that calendar month.
8) Set Up A Diversity Committee
Implementing an effective and robust DEI program doesn’t happen overnight and requires some heavy lifting. Rather than saddling down 1 or 2 employees with the task of bringing DEI initiatives to life, create a diversity committee with individuals owning different pieces of your DEI plan.
What this diversity activity supports: Setting up a Diversity Committee helps ensure your DEI goals for every DEI pillar are actually accomplished.
Tip: Create BRGs (Business Resource Groups, also known as Employee Resource Groups) dedicated to different DEI initiatives, such as BIPOC, LGBTQ, Women in Leadership, etc.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Host a quarterly in-person panel event where each member of the Diversity Committee provides progress updates against DEI goals and upcoming DEI events.
9) “I Am, But I am Not” Activity
“I Am, But I am Not” is a great diversity and inclusion activity that allows your team to self-identify and then explore stereotypes associated with those identification factors. To start, have each team member fold a piece of paper in half. On the left side, they write “I am…” followed by a self-identifier such as gender, age, race, etc. On the right side, they write “but I am not…” followed by a common stereotype about that identifier. This will result in the phrase, “I am ___, but I am not ___.”
What this diversity activity supports: This activity helps colleagues get to know each other better and helps to dispel common misconceptions and stereotypes.
Tip: Have each participant write down 5 “I am, but I am Not” phrases so they are able to pick and choose which statement(s) they’re comfortable sharing with the group.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Break out into small groups in the office and try to include people of different backgrounds in each group. Sharing in a smaller group setting creates a safe space allowing participants to open up more.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Host a virtual version of this DEI activity. Start in a large group call to introduce the activity and review the activity parameters. Then utilize smaller break-out rooms for the actual activity and sharing out of statements.
10) Start a Book Club
Starting a book club is an easy yet fun way for employees to explore DEI topics through reading. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, provide readers with a window into different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. Book club also provides team members with a great opportunity to have an open dialogue about important DEI topics.
What this diversity activity supports: Reading diverse stories helps employees to empathize with others from different backgrounds or different ethnicities and also explore their own identities in a meaningful way.
Tip: When deciding what books to read, try to select a variety of topics so each month the team is expanding their knowledge. When possible, match up book topics with history months or holidays. For example, May is Mental Health Month, so you could select a book that touches on this topic.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Select a book written by a BIPOC author and gather your book club members together to share their thoughts.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Choose a book from this list of DEI Book Club picks and set up a virtual book club to discuss themes and takeaways from the selection.
11) Have An International Potluck
What better way to experience different cultures than through food? Hosting an international potluck is an awesome and interactive way for employees to learn more about various cultures. It also helps bring these cultures to life in a unique and delicious way.
What this diversity activity supports: This activity helps employees embrace their own culture through sharing it with others while simultaneously encouraging them to learn more about other cultures.
Tip: If doing this activity in person, create a signup sheet for people to enter what they’ll be making in order to avoid duplicates and track diversity in dishes.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Have employees bring in a dish that celebrates their culture for lunch and encourage your team to talk about their favorite traditions with each other.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Use a food delivery service like Uber for Business to easily deliver international cuisines to your team.
People Also Ask These Questions About DEI Activities
Q: Why are inclusion and diversity activities important for teams?
- A: Inclusion and diversity activities are important for teams because they create a workplace environment where all individuals feel safe, seen, and valued.
Q: What are the benefits of doing DEI activities for work?
- A: Some benefits of doing DEI activities for work include higher employee engagement, an increase in employee happiness, and stronger work output since different perspectives are able to contribute.
Q: What are examples of promoting inclusion?
- A: Some examples of promoting inclusion are following the Diversity Calendar and setting up BRGs (Business Resource Groups) focused on reaching company DEI goals and creating an inclusive environment.
Q: What is a DEI program?
- A: A DEI program is an action plan put into place to promote the representation of people from diverse backgrounds and equitable treatment of all employees so their unique needs are met.
Q: How do you implement DEI activities remotely?
- A: You can implement DEI activities remotely by hosting virtual team lunch and learn events, having guest speakers on webinars, or partnering with external vendors who specialize in virtual DEI events.