15 Team-Building Activities to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

by Rose Morrison,

26 January 2022

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Work events are an excellent opportunity to get to know each other better. Getting out of the office or trying new things teaches everyone to communicate and trust their co-workers on a new level. Interpersonal relationships in the workplace foster more inclusion and create room for additional diversity, as well as the resulting 38% increase in company revenue that comes from diverse innovation.

These are a few team-building activities to promote diversity and inclusion while participating in an event that should bring everyone together. Research shows that employees become more engaged in the workplace after bonding with their diverse teams, so consider hosting events with these activities to transform your workplace. Higher engagement and improved relationships will retain employees longer and create a more favourable professional environment.

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1. Draw a Diversity Flower

Use a large poster board as a drawing pad during your team’s next company meeting. Sketch a large flower with numerous petals — there should be one for every person in the room. Each employee will write something that makes them different in their petal, so everyone can talk about the wonderful diversity within each team.

Utilizing this drawing as a tool to talk about diversity will spark life-changing conversations. The team at The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ headquarters learned about their intersectionality by talking about their unique perspectives after an acting activity prompted conversations. Drawing a diversity flower will provide the same spark that bonds everyone through educational, inclusive discussions.

2. Host a Happy Hour

Many workplaces host happy hours for their employees, but that can make people feel left out if they don’t drink. Your team can still host a happy hour inclusively by providing everyone with a mix of alcoholic beverages and mocktails. Look up recipes and select a handful of fun drinks to pair with the snacks that will foster team-bonding conversations.

If your workplace doesn’t have enough room for this kind of activity, renting an event space will open new possibilities for team bonding. As long as the space has room for drink preparation and tables for snacks, your team will have a positive experience that becomes their new favourite monthly event.

3. Plan a Heritage Potluck

Everyone grew up a little differently, which might make them feel set apart from their co-workers. Banish that distance by planning a heritage potluck. Each person should bring a meal or side dish inspired by their family traditions. You’ll celebrate your workplace’s diversity over plenty of delicious food.

4. Make Sushi Together

Learning about another culture is the best way to dive into diversity and embrace people with different backgrounds. Workplaces can attend a cooking class together if it teaches them about new customs. A recent example was when Gidel & Kocal Construction team members signed up for a sushi-making class and learned to work together in a new environment while appreciating a different culture.

5. Start a Book Club

Sometimes people feel uncomfortable when asked to talk about diversity and inclusion. They could feel spotlighted as a minority group in the workplace. But a book club creates a safe space to address sensitive topics. Pick inclusive storylines with LGBTQ+ protagonists or memoirs by authors with disabilities to discuss themes that may otherwise be awkward in the workplace.

When Farrah Skeiky began her workplace book club, she felt inspired by co-workers who wanted to be more engaged in their already diverse community but didn’t know where to start. She picked books highlighting queer and non-binary people of colour as launching points for productive diversity conversations. Now their group regularly redefines and broadens their idea of inclusivity because they listen to and talk about perspectives from underrepresented communities.

6. Try the Privilege Walk

Sometimes it’s challenging for people to recognise their privileges, but a privilege walk may change that. Everyone should stand in a line and take a step forward when they hear a privilege they identify with, like having white skin or coming from an upper-class family. Discuss why those privileges help them get ahead in life to have a productive group discussion.

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7. Establish a Gender-Neutral Jar

Language is a crucial part of fostering an inclusive workplace. Every time someone says something harmless but gender-specific, like using the term “guys” to address a group, they should put a slip of paper with their name in a jar. Whoever has the least number of slips in the pot by the end of the week wins a prize because they learned to use more inclusive language.

8. Volunteer in the Community

Team members can also learn about privilege by volunteering in the community. Serving food to the local unhoused population, building houses with donation groups, or managing a charity event will cause everyone to reflect on what they have and appreciate the people around them.

Putting inclusive HR conversations and core values into action also creates an empathy that confirms diverse mentalities in professional spaces. Employees will open their minds to people of different backgrounds and life experiences, teaching them how inclusion and diversity strengthen relationships.

9. Prompt Category-Inspired Conversations

Over a company-sponsored lunch, ask questions from ice breaker categories. Which arm goes on top when crossing your arms? Everyone will find things they have in common, and the workplace will feel more cohesive in diversity. It’s an excellent activity for management teams to help employees realise the meaning behind diversity in the workplace.

10. Try Stepping Together

Sometimes people don’t appear inclusive because social anxiety keeps them from getting to know people. Ask everyone to line up on either side of a room and step forward when they hear a true personal fact, like if they like dogs more than cats. As everyone steps forward or back, they’ll learn about each other and recognise the diversity in the room.

11. Decorate Holiday Cookies Together

It’s impossible not to have fun while decorating cookies with icing and other fun toppings. Ask your team to make their cookie a showcase of their personality. After everyone finishes, they can explain what each colour or symbol represents. The conversations will become naturally diverse and make everyone feel closer than before.

Renting a venue with a large kitchen is an excellent way to make this event happen for your workplace. When everyone has enough room to participate in the baking and decorating, conversations will develop around the event discussion prompts and make diversity their primary focus.

12. Schedule Numerous Holiday Events

There are so many holidays throughout the year, so why should the workplace only recognise federal holidays like Christmas and Easter? Take a survey to see which holidays everyone celebrates according to their cultures or religions. The workplace can plan events in accordance with those dates, so everyone feels equally valued.

13. Watch Cross-Cultural Movies

Start a film club if your team members are more interested in movies than books. Pick a cross-cultural film each month and post a discussion question in a private social media group. Everyone can chat about what they thought while watching the movie and use it to open conversations about diversity and inclusion.

Renting an event venue with large walls is an excellent way to make this team-building activity happen. Employers could rent a projector and hook up their laptops so everyone can watch a projected movie in a fun space. They’ll look forward to the event and remember it more than simply watching a film in their standard conference room.

14. Visit an Art Museum

Artists express themselves very differently, especially if they’re from different cultures. Take everyone to an art museum to value those differences in person. It’s impossible to deny that each piece is worthy of a museum spotlight. Their differences will highlight why diversity in the workplace is also worth celebrating.

15. Compare Generational Perspectives

Age gaps in the workplace can make people feel excluded from conversations or friend groups. Cross that generational divide by asking questions for each age group to answer. Once they answer questions about their favourite band growing up or which type of car they first drove, everyone will be able to bond over what once made them feel distant from each other.

Promote Diversity and Inclusion

It’s up to management teams to discover team-building activities to promote diversity and inclusion. After bringing up sensitive topics through fun games, activities, or lively books, everyone will understand that the differences they bring to the table are all worth celebrating.

Rose Morrison
Rose Morrison

Rose Morrison is a home living writer with over five years of experience in the industry. She is also the managing editor of Renovated, a home living site where she’s most passionate about writing on sustainable living.

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