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A recent Gartner report shows that people who are part of diverse and inclusive work cultures tend to flourish, allowing teams to bring their whole selves to work and perform better. The research also shows performance to have improved by as much as 12%, and intent to stay by 20%!

If you think about it, it’s simply human nature. Who wouldn’t be able to give their all for your business when they believe that respect, acceptance, and true support are being offered to them, regardless of their background?

So how exactly do we go about increasing diversity and inclusion through training activities? There are a large number of such activities that you could implement almost immediately, a few of which are detailed below:

Diversity and inclusion training activities

Increase productivity and happiness with these diversity and inclusion activities for your business. Use these methods to take your business to the next level.

1. Inclusive vocabulary

You could generate a list of terms that help people feel more included and acknowledged. You could then encourage people to use these terms using a fun consequence – such as putting money into a pool.

We bet this will quickly result in your whole team becoming much more mindful of how they use language, creating a far happier and more wholesome environment in the long term.

Person-first language (for example, saying a person is visually impaired rather than ‘a blind person’ or a person who is hard of hearing versus ‘a deaf person’ and so on) is a great example of such forward-thinking ideology. Preferred gender pronouns (PGP), gender-neutral terms, and many more such terms can be researched and included are all ways of increasing inclusivity.

After discussing these terms, ask your team to share which ones they identify with most – the ones they could use in place of others.

2. “I Am”

Instead of letting people feel uncomfortable highlighting their differences, you could create a safe space where employees can open up and truly feel free to be themselves.

Each participant can be given a sheet of paper with the phrase ‘I am and asked to fill it up with ten ‘I am’ statements about themselves. The more you manage to encourage them to be honest, vulnerable, and free from any judgment about any of it, the better the results will be!

This will allow those who hear these statements to know each other better and accept them for who they are. You could also have people try and guess who wrote each statement, resulting in a fun game that helps your team understand more about each other.

3. Saying goodbye to stereotypes

Letting go of stereotypes that have been internalized is something that needs to be addressed. One way to do so is to ask each participant to write the phrase ‘I am _________ BUT I am not _________’. You could even ask others to add to the lists being read out at the time, helping people bash all the stereotypes associated with that group. This would also help the person feel like others are on their side to fight prejudice.

4. A snapshot board

There are few better ice breakers than someone’s life in photos. A bulletin board of memories that bring employees’ personal experiences can be the springboard you need to create the right spark of communication.

This celebratory display of mementos can positively highlight aspects of employees’ experiences, which leads to mutual respect and dignity at the workplace.

5. Post the story-links

Diversity and inclusion can also be achieved by creating a web of inclusions in the form of stories or real-life incidents. For example, One employee starts by saying, “India is my country of origin.” The next person keeps it going by adding, “I once visited India when I was a kid.” and so on. This activity allows coworkers an opportunity to start a conversation on various topics and bond better.

6. Dish-to-pass potluck

Food is a vital part of our identity, and there is perhaps no better way to celebrate diversity than with food! Organizing a fun potluck lunch party where employees bring dishes from or are inspired by their culture and heritage is a great way to connect better. This is a sure-fire way of giving your employees a welcome chance to titillate their taste buds and bond over various delectable dishes they may have never tried before.

7. Mini events

Using the office cafeteria or lounge, you could host small events representing different arts and cultures. Discussions on various topics appreciating diversity in the workplace can be held, where you focus on encouraging everyone to ask questions. Sharing feedback can also inspire others to speak up for their rights.

Diversity and inclusion activities for virtual teams

Like so many of us have, your organization may have been impacted by the recent unforeseen circumstances that have driven us all to work remotely. However, this is in no way a reason to remove focus from activities that further the cause of diversity and inclusion. Quite the contrary, it’s a reason to focus on them even more!

In fact, using a technology platform such as Empuls can help you gauge employee sentiments about I&D culture within your organization. This will ensure that working remotely doesn’t result in the feeling of being further apart than ever.

Ensuring that going virtual makes for a more balanced and healthier individual outlook and personal work experience is imperative. A few diversity and inclusion activities that you can use to your business’ benefit are:

1. Virtual book clubs and readings

An accessible activity that everyone can participate in and have fun with can be to assign books written by authors versed in diversity and inclusion.

Assigning a new book or two every quarter will keep things fresh and fun. Feel free to research books that appeal more specifically to you or your teams, or choose from the list below:

  • Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities by Susannah B Mintz
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
  • Privilege, Power, and Difference by Allan G Johnson
  • Yellow by Frank H Wu
  • We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown
  • This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite
  • What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet

2. Speak your truth

You can dig a little deeper into people's life experiences by encouraging participants to share stories of their own experiences. Some great questions to ask are:

  • When was a time you felt you didn’t ‘fit in’?
  • Have you ever experienced discrimination?
  • Have you ever felt excluded?

Sharing such stories can be a truly powerful way to help people feel heard. They can also give rise to hard-hitting discussions that can go a long, long way – in a manner that other more lighthearted activities cannot. It can also help team members bond and become more sensitive to the experiences and challenges of others.

3. What do you prefer?

Another way to discover and share your team’s personal preferences is to make a fun game of it!

Dividing people into more inclusive groups based on their personal preferences and having fun little games or lighthearted debates about why they like the thing in question can be a fun, inoffensive way to celebrate our little differences. This list can get your team to share if they are introverted, non-alcohol drinkers, vegetarians, pop-culture lovers, and so on.

4. How everyone got their name

Names tend to carry history, fun anecdotes, or familial values. These can also be celebrated by asking each team member (if they’re comfortable) to share the history behind their names.

This can be a nice little precursor to some less surface-level activities and increase people’s comfort levels. So much can be learned from having a conversation about your team’s names alone!

Celebrating diversity in the workplace

Fostering and celebrating an inclusive and diverse workforce for your team will help cultivate community and psychological safety at work.

You can use demographic data and heatmaps to highlight disparities between groups. You can recalibrate your D&I initiatives to build a winning work culture where I&D is tokenism and an intrinsic part of who you are as an organization.

If this isn’t a good enough reason, then just think of the long-term effects! Increased productivity, reduced turnover rate, and much more truly make diversity and inclusivity training a no-brainer. Explore Empuls, a one-stop solution for employee engagement to help you on your D&I journey.

So, there you have it, folks. Diversity and inclusion await your presence. Off you go to welcome into your workplace a happier, more wholesome, and much more productive employee!

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Mary Madhavi Reddy

Mary Madhavi Reddy LinkedIn

Mary is a content marketer with 20 years of experience. Her career spans GE Money, Google, and some growth-stage startups. At Empuls, she handles product messaging and positioning.