15 Activities to Promote Diversity and Inclusion for Your Team
Building a diverse, inclusive workplace means creating opportunities and programming for everyone to learn, discuss, and celebrate the different perspectives that make up your team.
With June being Pride and the month of Juneteenth, many teams are taking this opportunity to show support and celebrate the diverse communities in their organization.
Supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are year-long efforts, and June has become a month for workplace leaders to reinforce and revisit DEI initiatives in their company culture with fun activities, celebrations, and volunteering.
Not only does supporting diversity foster deeper connections, but diverse teams bring more innovation and can positively affect profits up to 36% above their industry means.
More importantly, supporting a diverse workforce means committing to real change in policy and practice. It means advocating for employees of different backgrounds, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cultures across all levels.
Read on for DEI activity ideas and events to keep your employees engaged and growing together.
Looking for creative ways to bring DEI strategy into your workplace? Talk to our team about developing the framework for an inclusive environment!
Where to start with your DEI programming?
How you approach your DEI strategy with your team members depends on your goals for DEI.
For many, that starts with education and discussion but more importantly, the heart of DEI is creating space for the different perspectives that make up your organization. DEI is an employee experience that should start and come from your employees. Utilize tools like Cooleaf's pulse survey to take sentiment with an Employee Inclusivity Survey or a Leadership Bias Survey to get a foundational understanding of where you're starting.
Many companies created equality employee resource groups (ERGs) this past year to introduce routine inclusive programming and to help review unconscious bias in established policies or opportunities.
Collaborating with ERGs is a great way to empower employees and develop your team's DEI goals or mission statement to build a more inclusive culture while building employee engagement.
Below are a few activities to get you started with education, team-building, and celebration. As you continue to develop your DEI programs, continue to check in with your groups or employees to review and evolve plans for the future.
1. Book Club
Bookclubs are a fun way to engage the readers in your team. Host a recurring book club that supports Black, AAPI, or LGBTQ+ fiction or nonfiction writers brings your team together and opens discussion for more diverse perspectives.
Organizations on Cooleaf took it a step further and created a DEI reading list for the year where employees could sign up and read on their own time and added their thoughts to event pages as the year went on. You can also host monthly meet-ups over Zoom for hybrid or remote teams or at work.
2. Dishes, Diversity & Discussion
Food is a gateway for people to come together while diving into the fascinating history of many nostalgic flavors.
You can host a potluck for employees to share family or cultural recipes along with their stories, or plan out visits to different restaurants that focus on diverse cuisines throughout the year. Organizations on Cooleaf even hosted a Soul Food recipe swap in honor of Black History month and a dumpling making course for the Lunar New Year.
Many of the dishes we know, love, and associate with certain holidays often have deeper cultural meaning or historical ties you can explore together as a team.
3. Building Belonging
Working together to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment centers on a theme we can all relate to– the desire and need to belong.
In this activity, open a discussion for employees to share a time when they felt out of place and a time when they felt welcomed by a group or individual. Ask what made all the difference for them? Simple acts of leading with compassion like recognizing a teammate for their hard work or confirming someone's pronouns speak volumes for anyone.
On Cooleaf, remote and in-office teams can use the platform to type out their ideas and are encouraged to respond to someone who shared their initial thoughts. Collecting these stories is a way to help employees learn from one another and empathize with each other in the future.
4. Maintain a DEI Calendar
Work with your ERGs or employees to create a DEI calendar that includes cultural, religious, and secular events and holidays. Plan ahead and collaborate on ideas like viewing parties for movies or documentaries on historical events or welcome a speaker to walk through key topics.
Your DEI calendar can evolve as the year progresses and is a way for your team to explore new ways to learn and commit to real change.
5. The Power of Allyship
Supporting workplace diversity can start with understanding allyship. Allyship encourages everyone to reflect on their background and helps individuals who are not part of a minority take action and commit to change.
For this activity, find resources, talks, or contact a speaker to share foundational knowledge on how to foster allyship to create an inclusive environment. The goal of allyship is to help individuals understand privilege, move past performative signs of support, and listen and commit to action.
Create a safe space for everyone to open up and learn about allyship by starting a discussion with questions on how individuals understand allyship and work together to answer the question– how can someone be a better ally?
6. DEI Suggestions Box
Create a DEI suggestions box where your employees can add their ideas for improving workplace culture! This is a great way to maintain an inclusive culture beyond a single month.
Give team members the option to submit ideas anonymously or attach their names if they’d like recognition. No idea is too big or small! This is all about creating a safe work environment where everyone has the opportunity to be seen and heard.
Try using a Google Form to accept submissions year-round.
7. Volunteer Days
Creating an inclusive workplace doesn't stop at the office or Slack channel. Committing to positive change means encouraging your workplace community to make a social impact with your CSR strategy.
While many companies made June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, a paid day off for employees, other organizations are having a "day on" with a volunteer day. Their teams are partnering with organizations that help and strive for change for BIPOC voices.
You can review your CSR strategy or social impact partners with your ERGs and plan out various volunteer or fundraising events throughout the year.
8. LinkedIn Sharing
Ask employees to share what an inclusive workplace means to them on LinkedIn. Offer a hashtag like #MyTeamValues or #WhereIWork so that you can track engagement!
Team members can tag or name your company but they don’t have to! This activity is all about making your team feel seen, heard, and valued by creating space for your employees to voice their honest opinion about what inclusivity looks like to them.
9. Bring in a Speaker
Bringing in a speaker from a DEI-focused organization is an excellent way to share the core values of diversity and inclusion with your team while sharing your platform with a community leader.
Reach out to a community leader and ask if they’ll join your team for a 30-minute speaking event. Host the event either during All-Hands time or at a scheduled time during work hours!
10. Donation Drive
Pick a charity that upholds some of the DEI values central to your organization and donate as a team!
Offer to match employee donations to a certain amount and let employees know about the initiative via team-wide communication. Highlight why you picked the organization and share their mission with your team.
Consider picking a local organization that does work in your community to bring a personal touch to the initiative.
11. Draft a DEI Statement
Everything is always better in writing. If your company doesn’t already have an official statement about diversity and inclusion, brainstorm one with your team leaders!
Ask for suggestions company-wide and let people know about the initiative. Unveil your final statement and share why you put this statement together in the first place.
DEI is incredibly important for letting employees know that you value their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Creating an official DEI purpose statement offers lasting evidence of your commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace.
12. Virtual or In-person Viewing Party
Movies are a gateway to cross-cultural understanding. Hosting a viewing is an excellent way to bring your team together and create a culture of acceptance and empathy!
Pick a movie from this list and host a team movie night! If you’re back in the office, host an in-person event. If your team is virtual or prefers to host events virtually, use a free platform like Scener to create an online watch party of any size.
Encourage team members to share their takeaways after viewing.
13. All-Hands (Employee Edition)
Give your people the larger platform! Create space for your team members to be themselves and share what they love with their organization.
Offer All-Hands time to people on your team who want to present about something they love (it could be anything, whether it's a hobby they’re passionate about or a movie they can't get enough of).
DEI is all about learning who makes up the fabric of your community. Use this unstructured time to learn about your team and give them the stage to share something that’s important to them.
14. Safe Space Chats
Encourage employees to meet with two new team members they haven’t talked to before either via Slack or Zoom! This activity is about facilitating relationship building for your team.
A big part of DEI is creating a familiar, safe atmosphere for people to be themselves. Much of that atmosphere begins with knowing who your teammates are! This is especially important in a remote work environment.
Consider one of these 10 ice-breakers to offer structure for team members who meet up.
15. Gift Local
Send your employees a small gift or a gift card from a local LGBT or POC-owned business!
This is a great way to pour into your community while offering your team a creative incentive.
Your DEI Strategy Is Ongoing
Celebrating LGBTQ+ for Pride through parades or uplifting Black voices for Juneteenth is just one aspect of committing to DEI for your organization. Diversity training, reviewing policies for inclusive language and actions, and creating a sense of belonging for each individual are more ways to commit to change for your team.