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.
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 can 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.
All three of these concepts must be embedded in your company culture and goals.
Now that we understand what DEI is and what DEI activities are, let’s talk about 15 tangible ways you can bring valuable DEI activities to your team!
List of Diversity and Inclusion Activities For Your Team
1) 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 locked suggestion box where employees can deliver their surveys anonymously.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Create and launch an employee engagement survey encouraging your employees to share their candid feedback. You can also use
Tip: SnackNation evaluated a number of popular engagement platforms and curated a list of the best employee survey software tools for 2024.
2) Plan a DEI-Themed Activity
Organizing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) themed activity entails creating an engaging and educational event that celebrates diversity and nurtures an inclusive environment. Whether it’s a cultural fair, a workshop on unconscious bias, or a storytelling session featuring diverse voices, the objective is to showcase and honor the diverse backgrounds and experiences within your team or community.
It’s crucial to meticulously design such an activity to ensure inclusivity, respect, and enlightenment, nurturing a sense of value and recognition for everyone involved.
What This Diversity Activity Supports: This DEI activity fosters an inclusive workplace or community culture by promoting understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives and experiences. It effectively breaks down barriers and biases, creating a more cohesive and empathetic environment.
Tip: Ensure that the activity is accessible to everyone and encourages active participation and open dialogue.
➤ How to Do This DEI Activity In Person: To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in a face-to-face setting, consider hosting an engaging workshop or a cultural exchange fair. These interactive activities offer participants the opportunity to have meaningful discussions, explore diverse cultural artifacts and cuisines, share stories, and engage in team-building exercises.
➤ How to Do This DEI Activity Virtually: Consider hosting a virtual webinar or a series of online talks with speakers from diverse backgrounds. Alternatively, create an interactive online forum where participants can engage in guided activities or discussions, facilitating the exchange of experiences and mutual learning.
Here are a few virtual ideas to explore:
3) 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.
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, be empathetic and embrace equity ideas. 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) 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 a gift from a curated selection of Black-Owned Businesses, which includes exciting products from emerging companies that are women, black, or people of color-founded brands.
6) Host A DEI-Focused Lunch And Learn
A “lunch and learn” is a great team-building activity for work because it provides 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: This fun diversity and inclusion activity 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 so they can order from a local restaurant or eatery.
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 inclusion activities for meetings as well as 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 initiatives and 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) Travel the world via a “DEI Virtual Tour”
Explore the world of diversity, equity, and inclusion with Woyago’s monthly virtual tours highlighting important DE&I subjects in different cities around the globe.
Follow the Diversity Calendar to discover inspiring stories of underrepresented communities and the steps taken by organizations to create inclusive workplaces.
In March, embark on a journey to Buenos Aires to learn about the trailblazing women who made an impact in Argentina’s history. In June, walk the LGBT Rainbow Route of Barcelona and discover how the city celebrates diversity and inclusivity.
What this diversity activity supports: Woyago’s virtual tours offer a unique and engaging way for companies to learn about DE&I and its practical application in the workplace. Gain cultural intelligence, develop a deeper understanding of DE&I, and foster an inclusive environment.
Tip: Excite your team by asking them to bring something related to the destination you’ll visit, such as food or clothes. This simple tip warms up your team and generates excitement around the event.
➤ How to do this DEI activity in person: Gather your team in front of a big screen and let the travel bug inspire your DE&I initiatives.
➤ How to do this DEI activity virtually: Woyago’s trips are available through Zoom, Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Webex. For more information, explore Woyago today!
10) 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 and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
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.
11) “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.
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12) 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.
13) 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 by 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.
14) Invest in DEI Education With a Dedicated DEI Budget
Investing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) education with a dedicated budget demonstrates a sincere commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace.
This investment can be allocated to various initiatives such as specialized training programs, workshops, guest speakers, and educational resources that address topics like unconscious bias, cultural competency, and inclusive leadership.
Allocating a specific budget for DEI initiatives and adequately resourcing these important activities can make a resounding statement about their values and dedication. In turn, this can help to create an authentically inclusive environment at your workplace.
What This Diversity Activity Supports: This initiative aims to cultivate a workplace culture that is understanding, empathetic, and inclusive. It empowers employees at all levels to gain knowledge about diversity, actively challenge biases, and contribute to a work environment that promotes equity.
Tip: Choose diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and resources that are backed by evidence and customized to address the unique needs and challenges of your organization.
➤ How to Do This DEI Activity In Person: Consider arranging in-person training sessions and workshops by DEI experts. Additionally, hosting panel discussions and cultural events can encourage open dialogue and facilitate learning from diverse perspectives and experiences.
➤ How to Do This DEI Activity Virtually: Embrace virtual investment opportunities in DEI training modules, webinars, and roundtable discussions. Offer a digital library of resources on DEI topics and facilitate online forums for ongoing learning and engaging discussions.
15) Work With a DEI Expert
Engaging a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) expert is a proactive step toward strengthening an organization’s dedication to fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace.
These professionals possess specialized knowledge and expertise, offering invaluable guidance on best practices, pinpointing areas for improvement, and facilitating the implementation of effective DEI strategies. Whether through training programs, policy development, or ongoing consultation, a DEI expert delivers profound insights and facilitates meaningful transformations.
Their involvement is pivotal in navigating complex issues, ensuring that diversity and inclusion endeavors have a lasting impact and are built to endure.
What This Diversity Activity Supports: Partnering with a DEI expert fosters the growth of an inclusive, empathetic, and respectful workplace environment. It guarantees that DEI initiatives are guided by expert insights and aligned with current research and industry standards.
Tip: Select a DEI expert whose expertise and methodology align with your organization’s unique requirements and objectives.
➤ How to Do This DEI Activity In Person: When it comes to in-person interactions, a DEI expert excels in leading engaging workshops, facilitating group discussions, and conducting on-site assessments. They offer customized advice and strategies tailored to your organization’s unique context.
➤ How to Do This DEI Activity Virtually: A DEI expert can offer various virtual services, including webinars, online training sessions, and consultations. They can also provide digital resources and tools to facilitate ongoing learning and engagement in DEI initiatives.
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 can 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.
Q: What are the best DEI activities for the workplace?
- A: Some of the best DEI activities for the workplace include expanding access to professional development opportunities, offering mentorship programs, and promoting diversity education. Additionally, employers can host regular events that are focused on celebrating different cultures or causes related to equality and inclusion.
Q: How can companies measure the effectiveness of their DEI events?
- A: Companies can measure the effectiveness of their DEI events by collecting feedback from participants and evaluating how those events impacted employee engagement and morale. Additionally, companies should measure the diversity of their workforce before and after the event to ensure that they are making progress in hiring and promoting employees from diverse backgrounds. Finally, companies should also track metrics such as performance reviews, promotional rates, and attrition rates to determine if the DEI events are helping to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
Q: How can you promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
- A: Companies can promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace by creating a workplace culture that values and encourages different perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, and identities. Employers should also provide training on topics such as unconscious bias, cultural sensitivity, respect for all individuals, and creating an inclusive environment. Additionally, employers should ensure they are following fair hiring practices with diverse recruitment pipelines and offering competitive compensation packages.