Diversity is a mixture. Inclusion is making the mix work. - Andres Tapia
A diverse labor pool is vital to any organization. It refers to the manpower which includes individuals with a wide range of characteristics. Undoubtedly, it goes beyond the employees’ skin color, hair, looks, religion and ethnicity.
It encompasses different significant factors that include personality, education, interests, hobbies, sexual orientation, race, talents, cognitive styles and abilities. People from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences come together to strengthen the diverse workforce.
It goes without saying that, to cope with the ever-increasing competitive edge, it is inevitable to retain the diverse talents. That’s where the concept of inclusion comes in. It refers to the efforts that help an employee feel like an important part of the diverse teams, irrespective of the differences. It focuses on creating an environment where diverse employees are accepted and appreciated.
Without inclusion activities, diversity is meaningless. As an employer or manager, diversity and inclusion should be the top priorities in your talent management strategy.
Many companies and their employee resource groups are putting best efforts in their diversity and inclusion activities to build a happier workplace with the best financial performers.
Also according to Harvard Business Review, companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher revenues.
Here’s a roundup of the best activities that celebrate employee differences.
Here Are 15 Activities Of Diversity And Inclusion In The Workplace
1. Do The Diversity Briefings
This is the first and foremost important activity to promote and maintain diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Team managers can arrange monthly seatings to discuss and design the different diversity acts.
For example: Employees with different backgrounds can brief what religious days or holidays are important to them and in what ways. Accordingly, they can be offered the time off.
This spreads historical and cultural knowledge among co-workers and increases interpersonal understanding with the fewest possible side effects.
2. Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) In Flower Petals
This recreational activity needs 4-10 members in each group and it is one of the best ways to learn more about each other. All the members should be encouraged to make the best of their creativity and ideas. Here’s how to proceed -
- All the groups should get a large art paper and some colorful markers.
- Each group has to draw a large flower. It should have a round center and an equal number of petals to the number of participants in their group.
- After discussion, each participant should fill the petals with something that is unique about themselves- anything that makes them stand out from others. However, physical characteristics should be ignored.
- The center of the flower should be filled with their ‘common’ something.
The flowers should be shared with the other groups so as to discuss the differences and similarities.
This game provides mental exercise and a wide scope for social interaction.
3. When’s The Happy Hour?
It’s not just about putting some drinks on the conference table and calling it a party. Office happy hours can be a perfect opportunity for networking. To start down the road of real fun, office happy hours should have a plan and a purpose.
It can prove to be a great get-together and help know each other personally. Apart from refreshments, they should experience something exciting, beautiful or shocking that creates conversations that go far beyond the borders of the happy hours.
4. Put Up The Snapshot Board
Photos can be a great conversation icebreaker. A board full of memories related to employees’ personal important life events can create the right spark of communication.
The display of such personal mementos in the professional space can speak volumes about the different different aspects of employee experiences. This helps the co-workers to see the perspective of others and embrace it, which finally leads to mutual respect and dignity at workplace.
5. Post The Story-Links
Internal communication tools can be of great help to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A web of inclusions can be created in the form of stories or real-life incidents. It should be described in a way that shows what makes them unique and posted on the online employee community platform of your company. As others see the previous posts, they look for self connections and add to the link.
For example: One employee writes, “ India is my national origin.”, the next person who can relate to it adds, “I once visited India when I was a kid.” and so on… This activity gives coworkers an opportunity to start a conversation on various topics and compare how they are the same or different.
6. Dish-To-Pass Potluck
What can be better than celebrating diversity with food? Organize a fun potluck lunch party where employees should bring in dishes from or inspired by their culture and heritage.
From appetizers and main dishes to sweet courses, Potluck offers a welcome chance to try the all-time best cuisines across kitchens. But, it is surely more than that because food is one of the best conversation starters. It gives a favorable occasion to share and connect.
7. Mini Events
You can make better use of the office cafeteria or lounge area. These common areas for office people can be made available for small events and representations of different art and culture. Discussions on various topics appreciating diversity in the workplace encourage participants to ask questions and share feedback which can inspire others to speak up for their own rights. Such opportunities can generate interesting and open conversations which are true diversity and inclusion efforts.
8. Follow The Diversity Calendar
If your workplace is rich with diversity, why celebrate just Christmas? Keeping track of only the standard holidays can disturb the sense of belonging for many others. An extensive and interactive diversity calendar can reap the best benefits of diversity.
Knowledge of multicultural holidays and celebrations can provide a great break for awareness. Otherwise, it misses opportunities to improve employee engagement with the company’s goals in the long run.
9. A Look At The Book
Books play a primary role in making the workplace more welcoming and inclusive. Reading diverse narratives help in empathizing with the experiences of others from different groundings.
Research indicates that knowledge about the experiences, upbringing, history and culture of another person can remove misconceptions towards that specific group. Books on LGBT inclusion which lessens bias against this population is a great example here.
Encouraging your employees to read the D&I books can be very effective and instrumental in learning more about their co-workers.
10. Step Apart, Step Together
This activity shows the differences and similarities. Here’s how to start:
- Let two team members be on the spotlight, facing one another.
- The rest of the team will call out things like place of birth, staple food, hair color, and even religion, which might signify that one person is different from the other.
- Instruct the two team members to take a step apart when they have a difference. Similarly, when they have a similarity, they can step back together.
The object lesson of this activity is that even if two people are quite different from each other, there are still many grounds which can bring them back together. The gap might be wider but there will always be something which binds them together.
11. Take The Privilege Walk
The privilege walk helps the participants to understand more about themselves and know-how they have or don’t have a privilege in comparison to the others. It goes like this:
- Explain to the group that we all have some privileges which others do not, in a subtle way.
- Take a wide free space and ask the group members to stand in a line.
- Explain to them that you will start reading out a series of statements.
- Instruct them to take one step forward or backward when a certain statement applies to them.A series of 25-30 statements can be read out. It can include statements like:
- If you are left-handed, take a step forward.
- If you are of Indian origin, take a step forward.
- If you rely on public transport, take a step forward.
- If you have come from single parent background, take a step back.
- If you have ever faced sexual harassment at the workplace, take a step back.
- If you have ever faced an identity crisis, take a step back.
- After all the statements, ask the team members to look around and see where other people are in the room. Finally, let them sit in a circle and facilitate a discussion about how they are feeling. Depending on the differences and disadvantages, you can have a great conversation and hope to be truly inclusive.
12. Money In The Jar
It is also referred to as the Hotjar Guys Challenge in order to induce a gender neutral language for improved diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
In the inclusive culture, the way we address a group matters a lot. The four-lettered word ‘Guys’ can make many of the female team members feel excluded from a conversation, and unhappy about it. The idea is, whoever uses the word in the wrong context has to put a Euro in the jar, everytime. This increases a lot of awareness against using the gendered words in the workplace and also helps in raising some money for a cause.
13. Let Your Art Do The Talking
Any form of art can connect people and broaden the pool of knowledge. Let your employees create art together. Be it redesigning the office walls or each other desks, art can help initiate societal conversations.
Visual storytelling, as it is named, generates awareness, leadership skills and fosters a sense of oneness among staff. You can arrange for a ‘Diversity week’ where they can paint their vision on equality in the workplace.
14. The Win-Win Condition Of Disability Inclusion
There are over one billion disabled people, globally. Although they are more active these days, yet the rate of employment is less and they continue to suffer due to the unconscious biases (like bias training) that prevail in workplaces.
The acts of diversity can gain everybody in a workplace. It ensures fair treatment across the organization by making communications, products and the physical environment more usable by as many users as possible. It aims in minimising the harmful consequences of accidental or unintentional errors for all.
Disability awareness training helps all the employees to communicate freely with the disabled people, thus making the place welcoming for all.
15. I Am… But I Am Not...
Last but not the least, this is probably the best diversity game to bring your team together. The goal of this activity is to dispel stereotypes and involve everyone in getting to know each other.
Each participant should take a piece of paper and make two columns with headers “I am…” and “I am not… “ with the word “But” in between. For example, it will create a phrase like, ‘I am Iranian but I am not a terrorist.’
Sharing such statements about themselves can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it can clear a lot of misbelieves.
Wrapping It Up
Diversity and inclusion activities should exist in the life-blood of every company, and it’s up to that company’s own strategy how it leads to earning a competitive advantage. The above activities can execute the inclusion work, uncompromisingly.
If you know any such activity that can create the diversity and inclusion spark in the workplace, feel free to share in the comment section.
Decoding and Driving Employee Engagement