Workplace diversity training activities like methodical teaching and applying inclusive policies, when implemented, bring harmony and cohesiveness in a workforce or the work environment. It aims to facilitate interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and build a healthier workplace.
Diversity training also helps people understand the perspective of others and embrace the differences based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, language, nationality, socioeconomic status, physical and mental ability.
Workplace Diversity Training Activities
Workplace diversity training can be done through different mediums and programs. This article will talk about different forms of diversity training activities.
- Cross-Cultural Diversity Training
Employees are expected to work in completely foreign environments with completely different people from different cultures. The process of accepting and being accepted in an alien environment can be emotionally taxing. Cross-cultural training is very important in such situations. This activity includes a diversity briefing. Diversity briefing is very much like any briefing in a meeting but done with a lot of empathy on the trainer’s part.
It is mainly an interactive session where people from diverse cultures explain their festivals and traditions. Like employees can discuss what holidays or holy days are important to them, and they can be assigned leaves accordingly. This is a very good way to promote diversity and employee satisfaction in a workplace. According to Harvard Business Review, companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher revenues.
This is also the way to enrich the workforce with the least side effects than historical and cultural knowledge. Diversity briefings can also be used to plan further diversity activities with the employees.
- Diversity and Inclusion in Flower Petals
This is essentially a recreational activity. For this, the employees must be divided into groups of 4 to 10. All the members should be encouraged to make the best out of their creative ideas. The steps are as follows.
- All the groups should be provided with art paper and some colorful markers.
- Each group’s task is to draw a colorful big flower on the art paper. The flower should have a big circle in the middle and an equal number of petals to the number of employees in the group.
- After an elaborate and exhaustive discussion, each employee has to fill out a leaf with a characteristic of theirs. However, physical characteristics should be excluded.
- Then they have to fill the center of the flower. This section should be filled with something they all have in common.
- Then each team should share their flowers with other teams and talk about the project they just finished to understand the differences and similarities that others experienced.
This is like a bonding activity for adults that provides scope for mental activity within the frame of group work which is hard. The eccentricity of this task makes it enjoyable as well.
- Putting Up Snapshot Boards
Photos are a great icebreaker. Even in the era of working from home, a virtual photo board can be a form of engagement other than work. Work can be interesting for a limited period of time, but photos are interesting forever. The display of the employee’s personal enjoyable and important memories is an incredible conversation generator.
Photos can go sideways, so there should be an approval process to ensure there aren’t any photos that any of the employees would find offensive or hurtful. But other than that, it is a great way of sharing and understanding the perspective of others, accepting someone as a part of a family. Photos contain a form of vulnerability that is pure yet not self-harming.
- Utilizing the Happy Hour
The happy hour or the office party is not just free drinks and snacks. It is a perfect networking opportunity for everyone and an opportunity for socializing as well. The office happy hour should have a plan and a purpose. If it is left to be spontaneous fun, it will never be fun. It is an incredible way to get to know each other and build personal relationships other than work. Apart from refreshments, they should experience something exciting, beautiful, or shocking that creates conversations that go far beyond the borders of happy hours.
- Arranging Small Events
This is a great way to actually use the office lounge and cafeteria. Organize events like a poetry reading or music competition. The competitions must be healthy. Keep in mind to represent different cultures and mindsets or identities through these events.
Discussions on various topics appreciating diversity in the workplace encourage participants to ask questions and share feedback, inspiring others to speak up for their rights. Such opportunities can generate interesting and open conversations, which are true diversity and inclusion efforts
- Celebrate Food
If we know anything that varies from culture to culture, it is their food. Sharing the recipes inherent to a tradition can be a great way to share each other’s differences and eat some great food. It starts 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 undoubtedly more than that. It is because food is one of the best conversation starters. It gives a favorable occasion to share and connect.
- Following the Diversity Calendar
If a workplace contains multiple people from different cultures, why should just Christmas or the Western new year be prioritized? The institutional acceptance of difference is an incredible way to show that the company does not care about hierarchy or region when it comes to maintaining diversity.
Keeping track of only the standard holidays can disrupt the sense of belonging for many others. An extensive and interactive diversity calendar can reap the best benefits of diversity. This will improve engagement among employees and build up cultural awareness.
- Step Apart, Step together
This activity shows the differences and similarities and how it is fine to be different.
Step 1: Two employees should stand facing each other as the first step of this activity. The spotlight should be on the two of them.
Step 2: The rest of the team should call out things like birthplace, hair color, staple food even religion
Step 3: The instructions are for the two employees to take a step apart when they have a difference and then step back together when they have a similarity.
The takeaway of this activity is to state that yes, there are differences, but there will be the ground where people are similar, and that will bring them back together. The gap might be more comprehensive, but there will be things that bind us together.
- The Privilege Walk
The privilege walk helps the employees in understanding certain things about themselves.
- Explain to the group why we all have certain privileges that others do not as individuals.
- Take a space big enough and ask the employees to form a line.
- Explain to them that you will start reading out a string of statements.
- Instruct them to step forward when a statement applies to them and then backward again. Read 25 to 30 sentences out loud. The sentences may include information like
- If you’re left-handed, step forward.
- If you are of Indian origin, take a step forward.
- If you rely on public transport, step forward.
- If you come from a single-parent background, take a step backward.
- If you have ever faced sexual harassment at work, take a step back.
After all these statements have been read out, ask the people to take a look around as to where other people are standing. After this is done, form a circle and talk about how they are feeling. This helps the employees understand others’ struggles better and be kind.
There are a lot of Workplace Diversity Training activities, and they should vary from program to program. Still, each program carries a certain weight, and any workplace benefits from a diversity training program.