Research has found that diversity in gender, age, ethnicity, and other dimensions can foster high performance in the workplace, and cognitive diversity can improve problem-solving, increase retention, and help foster innovation. Luckily, there are tons of team-building ideas that companies of all sizes can use to help promote diversity and inclusion. Whether you're a small startup or working with one of the biggest companies in the world, you're sure to find an idea on this list that suits your company culture and your budget.
Corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs have been on the rise in recent years, and people are more aware than ever of the importance of fostering diversity in the workplace. Even though workplace diversity training first popped onto the scene back in the '60s, the past decade has truly illuminated the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion among teams and organizations.
Research has found that diversity in gender, age, ethnicity, and other dimensions can foster high performance in the workplace, and cognitive diversity can improve problem-solving, increase retention, and help foster innovation.
Luckily, there are tons of team-building ideas that companies of all sizes can use to help promote diversity and inclusion. Whether you're a small startup or working with one of the biggest companies in the world, you're sure to find an idea on this list that suits your company culture and your budget.
A family photo album activity is great whether your team works in-office or remotely. That being said, actively building a sense of community is particularly important when everyone is working from home, and photo albums are the perfect tool for learning more about coworkers.
By allowing team members to glimpse into the non-work lives of their colleagues, having a family photo album can help people understand and get to know each other better.
Not only does this help build a strong team, but it's also a powerful tool when it comes to eliminating bias in your organization.
There are a number of different ways you can set up a family photo album for your team. In the office, you could go with an old-school bulletin board and tacks method, but this might not garner as much participation because people are less likely now to have physical photos.
Whether your team is remote or not, the better option is to create an online space where family and personal photos can be shared. You might choose to do this in Google Drive, a private social media group, or through one of the many tools you use to communicate with your team.
Once you've given all of your team members access to the album, you can let everyone know that this is a space where pictures can be posted at any time. To help get the ball rolling, consider prompting people periodically with themes such as "childhood," "family," "pets," and "celebration."
Not only is this a great way to promote diversity and inclusion while building a stronger team, but it's also a great morale booster. After all, who doesn't love looking at adorable pictures of pets?
If you're looking for a simple way to inject a little more consciousness of diversity and inclusion into your team, consider creating a central calendar. All you have to do is create an online calendar that you share with everyone and then ask them to add the celebrations, holidays, and special occasions that are important to them.
Once the calendar is filled with days of observance of various kinds, the team leader can plan special online activities having to do with each holiday or post acknowledgments on your company messaging app.
If you're looking to create a recurring activity that fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion, you might consider starting a team book club. This is a great way to expose people to new perspectives and help people learn about and understand different worldviews.
Every month, team members read a book or article that involves themes of diversity and equity. You can then all meet up virtually to discuss the dominant ideas in the piece and let everyone talk through what they learned, what questions they have, and more.
Creating a birth map is a really fun activity for team building that also helps coworkers learn more about each other and their personal histories. This can serve as a jumping-off point for conversations about how each team member got to where they are today and what their lives have been like up to this point.
This is another activity that can be done either in person or remotely. You'll want to start with a map of the world (either on the wall or online) and allow each person to place a pin where they were born.
Not only is this a way for team members to get to know each other better, but it also helps illustrate just how diverse your organization is. With remote work in particular (as there are often fewer or no geographic boundaries in hiring), it can be truly amazing to see how people from all across the world come together to work towards a common goal.
If your team has already done their fair share of icebreakers, energizers, and other more deliberate activities, another great team-building exercise that promotes diversity is a happy hour event. Back in the day, when working in an office was the norm, it was common for coworkers to head to a local bar after work on Friday and grab a drink. These days, you can recreate this social event with virtual happy hours.
While it can be great to incorporate specific team-building activities into your management style, sometimes people just need a little time off the clock (and a drink) to get to know each other a little better. This is when connections can really be made between individuals that might not have initially thought they had much in common, which is an excellent and effective way of combating bias in the workplace.
Not all diversity-promoting efforts need to be events that take up time on the calendar. You can also incorporate ideas surrounding the benefits of diversity into your team communications.
One really simple way to do this is to share a quote of the day.
Every day, you can send out an internal email or share through Slack a quote about diversity or by a person that is a prominent figure in a specific community. You can even go the extra mile and include a short profile of the individual and why they are so significant.
Every human is unique, and another form of diversity that you can work to promote in the workplace is the diversity of personality types. At work, it can be easy to get frustrated with people who have different work styles than we do– for example, a highly organized person might get fed up with someone that's a little less structured, and vice versa. The truth is, though, that having a team full of people with different strengths is one of the ways that magic happens in an organization, and it's a good idea to put the spotlight on this reality from time to time.
There are tons of different personality assessments out there, some of which are scientifically based and others of which are pretty silly (think: "Which Harry Potter character are you?")
There's no shortage of the latter, but here are some ideas when it comes to the former:
These are great tools to incorporate into your next day of diversity and inclusion-building initiatives. Of course, it's a good idea to allow each person to take these tests privately and keep their results to themselves if they choose. For the team members that aren't shy about sharing what they found out about themselves, it can be a great way to learn about each other and a great way to get a conversation going.
Did you know that eating with other people is directly connected to how happy and satisfied people feel with their lives? That's what researchers at the University of Oxford say, anyhow.
When people eat together, it helps increase both feelings of well-being and social bonding. Considering this, sharing regular meals is a surefire way to bring your team closer together and break down the barriers of bias.
Offering food and drinks to your team is also one of the most popular perks companies can offer employees, so finding time to eat together is a win-win!
There are a lot of different ways you could go about breaking bread as a team. If you want to add an additional layer of diversity awareness to the activity, you could ask that each team member takes turns teaching the others how to make a meal from their family, culture, country of origin, region, or really any recipe that is meaningful to them.
If you want to keep it simpler, though, you could always just throw a virtual pizza party. Combine it with a virtual happy hour, and you are bound to have a team-building experience that brings everyone closer together.
One great idea for IRL offices is to get out into the community and volunteer together. There are likely tons of organizations near your location that you can sign up for a day and contribute your efforts as a team.
You can choose a diversity and inclusion-focused organization to volunteer for, but that isn't necessary for promoting these ideas within your team. Whether you volunteer with an organization that helps raise funds for vulnerable populations in your city or picks up trash in your local park, you'll find that this is a bonding experience for everyone that highlights our common humanity.
Another effective strategy for cultivating a culture of diversity and inclusion is inviting guest speakers to treat your team to online talks and lectures. There are plenty of professional speakers out there that specialize in specific themes that you can hire to join your team for a chat.
This is the perfect opportunity for team members to ask any questions they might have about issues surrounding diversity and inclusion. You're pretty much guaranteed that everyone will walk away having learned something, and the talk will also provide plenty of conversational topics for your next team social event.
If you're looking for a virtual activity you can do with your team that promotes diversity and makes stronger teams, you can host a pair and share.
This is a fun exercise where teammates are broken up into pairs or small groups. If you use Zoom, this is a great use of their breakout room feature.
Once they are divided into smaller groups, each team is tasked with finding a few things (one to four) that they all have in common with one another and a few (again, one to four) that they don't have in common.
This is a really nice activity that helps people see that they both have certain things in common and a number of notable differences at the same time. This can foster a sense of shared ground while also highlighting the varying experiences of all team members.
Creating connections between people can be difficult when everyone is working from home, and this is an awesome way to bring your team together.
No matter what diversity and inclusion activity you're planning on doing with your team, there's one element you won't want to leave out: pizza.
Bringing in a guest speaker to give a talk to your team? Send everyone a pizza.
Engaging in a full day of DEI training remotely? How about some pizza?
Planning a big social happy hour for your team to get to know each other better? Well, you know what we're going to say.
Figuring out how to feed your team can be a challenge when you work remotely, which is where we step in. If it's time to supplement your diversity and inclusion activities with the food that brings everyone together, let us plan a pizza party for you.