23 Feb

Virtual Diversity and Inclusion Activities for Your Team

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The concept of diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) is not new — far from it. DEI dates way back to the ’60s and has grown significantly over the years to encompass more groups across all economic and social levels. According to recent research, as high as 78% of workers prioritize working for companies that value and promote DEI. 

But while most current organizations and companies know what DEI is and why it is important, not all know how to improve it. And part of this failure comes from miscommunication and too-formal training that does little to actually practice DEI. Enter fun and engaging activities. 

Organizing activities specifically focused on DEI can help an organization promote learning, listening, and other critical factors of DEI — all while engaging employees. That’s why we put together a list of virtual diversity and inclusion activities every organization can try out with little effort and resources. 

What Is DEI?

Before you start your virtual diversity and inclusion activities, you must understand the three layers of DEI:

  • Diversity: A diverse workforce includes individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, and classes. But diversity is about more than ticking boxes during hiring — it requires frequent analysis of your team, company culture, and personal biases. For instance, a team with a disproportionately low number of women may want to consider why certain applicants aren’t applying to begin with. 
  • Equity: An equitable workplace requires you and others on your team to respond to harassment, discrimination, and harmful stigmas. This includes challenging your personal biases and helping others recognize how they may unintentionally contribute to an inequitable company culture. As a result, you can make everyone on your team feel safe, comfortable, and part of the team. 
  • Inclusion: Equal opportunity extends beyond the hiring process. Workplace inclusion lets everyone participate proportionately in conversations, decisions, brainstorming, and other activities. This increases the information and ideas available to your team. 

A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is crucial for team building and keeping each person involved and engaged. Everyone should have equal access to resources, knowledge, and opportunities within your organization — regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other factors or backgrounds. 

DEI Team Building Activities You Should Try

One of the best ways to put DEI lessons into practice is to organize activities that promote diversity and inclusion in your workforce. Such activities will boost team building and keep your team engaged and working in unison, whether from home or in the office.

Here are the top DEI team building activities you can try out: 

Never Have I Ever

“Never Have I Ever” and “Ten Fingers” are easy virtual diversity and inclusion icebreakers that get everyone sharing and listening to each other. That said, this game can go many different ways depending on who you play it with. So, be aware of your team and encourage everyone to stay professional.

Though you can change the rules however you like, “Never Have I Ever” typically begins with all participants holding ten fingers up. The first person starts the game by sharing something they have never done, from filing a report late to climbing a mountain. Everyone who has done that activity must put down a finger. Participants continue to share their empty achievements in a circle until someone has all their fingers down.

This game is guaranteed to start at least a few conversations later, which can be a great opportunity for using inclusive language. Plus, your team will inevitably learn more about themselves and likely gain respect for each other’s individuality. 

Multicultural Movie Night

Among the diversity and inclusion event ideas you can easily do virtually or in person are movie nights. Even if you don’t pitch it as a DEI activity, recommending a diverse selection of movies can encourage your team to listen to other perspectives. Finding a movie no one has seen typically leads to a better-shared experience.

Many popular blockbusters, such as action movies and comedies, focus on specific demographics and groups. However, some of the most unique stories are by individuals from backgrounds, experiences, and cultures that don’t always get the spotlight.

Therefore, do some research when selecting options for your multicultural movie night. Search for international and independent films you haven’t seen yet, and check out the writers and directors on each project. Also, consider setting themes for different movie nights and asking teammates to recommend their movie selections. 

Parties for Each Diverse Holiday

Celebrating holidays and dedicated days, weeks, and months can help naturally promote DEI within your team. Many workplace activities are rooted only in specific cultures and traditions that may make some individuals feel excluded. Promoting diversity through holiday and monthly celebrations can help many people feel included and boost information sharing. For example, instead of only celebrating “Christmas” during the holidays, you can also mark Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice festivals. 

While celebrating other holidays can encourage better diversity, you must be careful of cultural appropriationThe Office and other popular workplace satires often show attempted diversity events backfiring because their leaders perpetuated harmful stigmas. Do your research, be aware of the topics you speak on, and plan your holiday celebrations from a place of respect. 

Consider the following DEI dates and holidays:

  • Black History Month
  • Women’s History Month
  • Jewish American Heritage Month
  • Pride Month
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Ramadan
  • Passover
  • Diwali
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Chinese New Year

Book Club

Whether you do weekly or monthly meetings, virtual and in-person book clubs encourage frequent, inclusive socialization. These meetings can easily implement DEI practices, including better listening skills and letting everyone speak. Plus, their consistent schedules can help you maintain participation.

Book clubs are especially beneficial for expanding perspectives. Stories and other art forms are naturally subjective, so readers will likely interpret different themes, motivations, and arcs. Encouraging team members to share and listen to their findings can help them appreciate the power of different perspectives.

Consider stories with DEI focuses or diverse authors when choosing books. This can help your team adjust to hearing other perspectives and learn important lessons from their narratives. However, ensure that your choices interest your book club members. 

Guest Speakers

Guest speakers, lecturers, and trainers may be invaluable to your DEI activities for the workplace. As discussed, listening to other’s perspectives is fundamental to DEI practices. And guests from outside your organization can provide new tips and strategies for the workplace. Additionally, simply having someone new to listen to may get your team more engaged.

Many professional guest speakers travel from company to company, exploring different job cultures, practices, and ethics. This gives many of them unmatched experiences, as they may share the strategies that have worked for other organizations or are directly relevant today. However, guest speakers can also include professionals from similar fields, local communities, or your network.

Virtual platforms such as Zoom and Discord make arranging guest speakers even easier. Now, you can work around the speaker’s schedule without requiring them to drive anywhere. This increases the number of guest speakers available for your virtual diversity and inclusion activities. 

Virtual Cultural Potluck 

A multicultural potluck is a diversity and inclusion event that encourages participants to bring dishes and items important to them and their culture. It’s a surefire way to start conversations and inspire people to recognize each other’s individuality.

Virtual potlucks are more challenging to organize as you can’t exactly share food with other online guests. However, there are still ways for remote and hybrid workplaces to participate in these DEI team building activities.

For instance, you can encourage your team to share recipes beforehand, ask people to describe their dishes, or arrange delivery. Alternatively, some virtual cultural potlucks ask participants to bring other important items, such as art and heirlooms.

Consider food allergies and other safety concerns when planning in-person diversity activities for teams. Whatever you put together, team members should have fun snacking on different foods, especially with lots of dishes on the table.

Virtual Mentorship Programs 

Mentorship programs partner up employees with one another to share information, processes, and other guidance. As the name implies, most of these feature a designated mentor or trainer while the other person shadows them. However, many mentorship programs pair equally skilled employees together so they can learn from each other and improve their collaboration.

This level of teamwork is especially critical for hybrid and remote workforces. Virtual mentorship activities can help employees develop meaningful relationships, putting a face and personality to the other names on their team. As a result, they may develop friendships, better understand each other’s perspectives, and feel a stronger connection with their jobs.

Consider getting employees used to mentorship programs by partnering them up during virtual diversity and inclusion games. Low-stakes games may make them feel more comfortable working together as there aren’t negative consequences if they make mistakes. 

Team Building Games

Though many activities have direct DEI focuses, you can make almost any game into a diversity and inclusion activity. Escape rooms, puzzles, trivia, and other games can get your team working together or, at the very least, listening to one another.

Try out the following virtual diversity and inclusion games:

Virtual Escape Room

Virtual escape rooms don’t physically lock you anywhere, but they can still be just as immersive — especially with the right team. Online and at-home escape room packages use a combination of clues, tasks, and tools to assemble their puzzles. Though most of the hints will be right in front of you, you may not find the answers or details you need until time runs out.

Teammates will often find different clues and come up with unique answers to questions. You’ll need your entire team’s input to get through most virtual escape rooms, making them perfect opportunities for team building.

Diversity Bingo

Diversity bingo is a fun game that asks participants to consider cultural differences they may not have noticed. Give everyone different bingo sheets with diversity and inclusion-related topics in each box. Consider also making a bingo sheet based on your coworker’s suggestions.

Participants should mark off squares for topics they have experienced, seen, or learned about. This can help start conversations and gauge the team’s cultural competence through positive learning. Sharing different backgrounds and perspectives will make an inclusive workforce stronger, more open-minded, and ready for the real world. 

Virtual Cultural Trivia Game

Digital platforms give you many ways to host virtual trivia games, whether you use it as a break between DEI discussions or set a dedicated trivia night. Implementing diverse trivia questions into your rotation can make your event more inclusive and educational. Plus, it lets participants show off their knowledge on different subjects.

Consider adding questions relating to different cultures around the world, such as national traditions, ethnic foods, and social change. Mixing these questions with entertainment-focused trivia, such as movies and sports, may get participants more engaged. Alternatively, you can provide extra points for cultural trivia questions. 

Why Are DEI Team Building Activities Important 

DEI team building activities and practices have helped organizations increase morale, profitability, productivity, and employee retention. This is because employees who feel heard and included are more likely to share their perspectives and engage in workplace activities. 

Beyond that, an inclusive atmosphere makes your organization a healthier space. Effective DEI has a direct impact on mental health, especially for employees who are more likely to face discrimination and exclusion. A safer space to work can help teams decrease turnover, boost engagement, and forge a stronger public brand. 

Inclusive team building activities can also be more effective in encouraging DEI than lectures and meetings. Each individual on your team has unique experiences, skills, and educational backgrounds, which means diversity, inclusion, and equity often look different for every person. Despite their best efforts, team leaders not impacted by certain social injustice issues may not recognize the entire situation or help address all related biases. 

Though diversity training is still essential, fun diversity team building activities put lessons into fun practice and can make participants feel more engaged. Social games such as “Never Have I Ever” let team members set aside their usual responsibilities and workplace pressures. As a result, they’re encouraged to listen to one another and recognize the strengths and ideas across their team. 

Virtual Diversity and Inclusion Games for Remote Teams 

In the years since 2020, many games and activities have become accessible remotely from various types of devices. So, you can get coworkers involved whether they’re on their cell phone, home computer, or travel laptop. Plus, apps including Zoom, Discord, and Twitch let you easily share your screen for online games and movie nights. 

Virtual teams may enjoy the following DEI team building activities:

  • Team trivia
  • Escape rooms
  • Murder mystery parties
  • Word puzzles
  • Math and logic puzzles
  • Virtual mazes
  • Virtual bingo

Problem-solving puzzles, such as escape rooms, encourage teammates to work together on the same problems. They help participants recognize each other’s unique skills and thought processes while practicing various inclusion strategies. Plus, the escape room’s timer makes it a great opportunity to workshop your teamwork skills in real-time without the usual stakes of your job. 

Different escape room choices let you fine-tune diversity and inclusion activities for virtual teams’ interests. For instance, if your team enjoys fantasy and sci-fi shows, you can search for escape rooms with the same theme. Alternatively, if a few coworkers like true crime podcasts, you can pick murder mystery puzzles. 

Escapely offers the following online escape rooms:

  • Escape the Desert Island
  • Escape the Basement
  • Escape the Ice Palace
  • Destination Unknown
  • Double, Double, Puzzle and Trouble
  • Whodunnit: Can You Crack the Case?

Things To Keep in Mind

Diversity activities for virtual teams require extra attention to detail to guarantee you and attendees give your discussions the respect they deserve. Keep the following tips in mind for your diversity and inclusion activities while working from home. 

Choose the Right, Appropriate Activity

The diversity and inclusion games for virtual teams we shared above only scrape the surface of DEI team building activities. You can use countless games, hobbies, and lessons in your DEI events — some of the best ideas may even be unique to your team.

When choosing activities, consider what will engage your team and is the most appropriate to your objectives. Most DEI events should have specific focuses relating to your team’s needs or industry shifts. For instance, if your goal is to encourage more inclusive language, consider communication-focused games such as group puzzles and escape rooms.

Also, track and recognize when games and activities may not be appropriate. Your team should discuss ageism, racism, and other serious topics respectfully. Games may distract team members from your DEI objectives or cause them to minimize their seriousness. Furthermore, you must be careful not to negate your objectives by choosing an offensive activity.

DEI Activities Complement Initiative

The best DEI team building activities should bring out the best in every person, encouraging them to take initiative within the group. So, the activities you choose should complement your lessons and DEI objectives. 

For example, if your DEI objective is about education-based stigmas or recognizing the power of information-sharing, you may consider virtual trivia. A diverse assortment of trivia topics gives participants equal opportunities to show their knowledge in various subjects. As a result, you can easily break the ice, start conversations, and help your team develop mutual respect. 

Many virtual diversity and inclusion games are also a great way to identify and improve leadership skills. Challenges such as escape rooms and murder mystery parties may encourage some members to step up amid stressful social dynamics. 

Consider games and activities that promote the following soft skills:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Active listening
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Adaptability
  • Organization
  • Time management

Enforce Inclusive Language

Inclusive language describes word choices that avoid invalidation, biases, or discriminatory implications. At a base level, you should not share ideas that are sexist, racist, prejudiced, insulting, ageist, or harmful in any other way. However, promoting inclusive language is not just about knowing what not to say — you must recognize the power of your words to maintain mutual respect. 

A common example of non-inclusive language is using “guys” and “dudes” to refer to groups. Though many women and non-binary individuals see “guys” as unisex, many interpret the word as inherently masculine. So, referring to your team as “guys” during virtual diversity and inclusion activities may make some participants feel excluded. Instead, you should encourage gender-neutral terms, such as “everyone,” “folks,” “y’all,” and “team.”

No one can implement inclusive language into their vernacular in a day. D&I activities for teams let you practice speaking respectfully and recognizing when someone’s words may be harmful. As a result, your team can grow together and keep each other accountable. 

Encourage Participation 

Activities such as escape rooms and book clubs shouldn’t be mandatory for your team, but you should encourage participation nonetheless. Virtual social settings let coworkers have fun and learn more about each other, including their skills, interests, and boundaries. Many activities push teams to listen to each other and solve group projects that require critical thinking.

Virtual activities are especially beneficial for hybrid and remote teams, as most coworkers’ only interactions may be in professional settings. Though studies show many employees are happier in remote positions, many also experience social isolation and miss work events. Online games and video chats can’t entirely replace water coolers and break rooms, but they can still add a unique social dynamic. 

Promoting your DEI team building activities as non-mandatory, fun events may encourage more people to get involved. You may not attract everyone the first time around, but those who participate will most likely be eager to get involved.

Virtual Diversity Icebreakers

Social icebreakers give people easy ways to cut the tension and start conversations. These activities can take endless forms, from situational jokes to group games. Their goal is to make people feel more comfortable talking together while practicing inclusive language and best practices. 

Even if icebreakers aren’t the main focus of your diversity and inclusion event, they may still be important to know. For example, if you are in an escape room with new teammates, having a few icebreakers in the back of your head can help you get to know everyone else. As a result, you’ll be able to communicate better when solving the puzzle. 

Try out the following virtual diversity icebreakers for your team:

  • Share your name and a fun fact: Though it may seem overplayed, this activity is a perfect icebreaker for strangers. Participants introduce their names and something interesting about themselves. Many teams set “no work-related facts” to keep conversations positive and separate from other responsibilities. 
  • Play “Two Truths and a Lie:” Similar to the previous icebreaker, this game asks participants to share three facts about themselves — one of which is untrue. Everyone else takes turns guessing the lie. This game is especially fun with already-acquainted teams, letting them learn more about each other. 
  • Ask About People’s Interests: Instead of designated activities, asking people about their hobbies, interests, and workspaces can help break the ice. Avoid discussing anything sensitive during DEI events, such as bringing up someone’s background if they haven’t brought it up first. Music, pets, food, weather, and books are all great opening topics. 

Plan Your Next Diversity and Inclusion Activity

Depending on your DEI objectives, you can use almost any activity to practice inclusive language, mutual respect, and other initiatives. Though virtual diversity and inclusion activities have several restrictions, they also have a few advantages — such as being able to attend an escape room without driving anywhere. 

Escapely offers inclusive team building activities and experiences you can easily implement into your next DEI event. These fun games may attract more participants, encourage critical thinking, and provide a memorable experience for your team. Plus, with lots of puzzle choices, the fun doesn’t have to stop after you escape the first room. 

From escape rooms to virtual games, virtual diversity icebreakers will get your team engaged and working together. Book a demo of Escapely’s team building activities to learn more. 

 

 

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