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7 Diversity Activities And Icebreakers For Coworkers

two employees discussing ideas for diversity activities

Hiring a diverse team is the first step in positioning your business for success. But you need to go further than just hiring individuals and hoping your team gels. Conducting diversity activities can help your team get to know one another better and form a sense of group cohesion.

In this article, we’ll discuss diversity activities and icebreakers you can use to bring your team together and build unity in your business.

What Are Diversity Activities?

Employees going down the stairs to attend diversity activities

A diverse workforce is one that includes both men and women of different cultures, viewpoints, backgrounds, and personalities.

But diversity in the workplace is about more than just hiring a variety of different people.

It’s about getting everyone on your team to have empathy for one another, to understand what others are going through (not just at work), and to work together effectively for the betterment of your business.

Diversity activities are a way to cultivate solidarity among a group of people who may not (at first) have anything in common and foster a sense of community in the workplace.

Diversity Activities And Icebreakers

employees at a desk doing diversity activities

1) Defining Moments

This activity is a great way for team members to learn new things about their coworkers that otherwise might not come up in the course of a normal workday (or month or year).

All it takes is paper, pens, and a willingness to be open and honest.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Gather everyone together and have them sit in a circle.
  2. Ask them to think about the three most defining moments in their life and to write a few words about each one on a separate piece of paper. We like to use different colors of construction paper and black Sharpies to make the moments stand out.
  3. Give them 10 minutes or so to complete the first part of the activity.
  4. When everyone is finished, take turns showing their defining moment and describing as much of the story as they feel comfortable sharing.
  5. Thank everyone for taking part in the icebreaker and encourage discussion on what everyone will take away from the exercise.
  6. For added impact, you can ask participants to tape their moments to a blank wall in the breakroom or other well-trafficked space so that everyone is reminded of what influenced their coworkers.

For more ideas on how to create a strong sense of team in your business — be it face-to-face or virtual — check out this article from the Sling blog: 7 Best Virtual Team Building Activities Your Remote Team Will Love.

2) Step Together

This is one of our favorite diversity activities for illustrating how much two people have in common.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick two people from the group and have them face each other six or eight feet apart.
  2. Ask the other participants to call out different characteristics (e.g., age, place of birth, hair color, favorite food, cat vs. dog, coffee vs. tea, etc.).
  3. If the two people have that characteristic in common, they take a step toward each other.
  4. If the two people differ in that characteristic, they take a step away from each other.

Though the two people may differ in a lot of ways, there will always be something that they have in common.

3) Life Outside The Office

The third entry on our list of diversity activities encourages team members to think about what their coworkers go through even before they show up to work.

Use these prompts to stimulate group discussion or as a way to facilitate one-on-one conversations.

Prompt #1: “The best and worst parts of last week, for me, were…”

This gives each team member the opportunity to talk about triumphs and difficulties they’ve faced inside and outside the office.

Prompt #2: “If you really knew me, you’d know that…”

This prompt can be as simple as, “I read a chapter of Pride And Prejudice on the bus ride into work this morning,” or as emotional as, “My child is sick and I’m having a hard time dealing with it.”

4) Diversity Jar

two employees brainstorming ideas for diversity activities

This activity will help your team members think about the language they use and how it can build up or tear down.

Set up a jar and challenge your employees not to say “Guys” when referring to a group of both men and women. Whoever uses the taboo word has to toss a dollar into the jar.

You can then donate the money to charity or use it to fund a lunch for your team.

Want to celebrate your team in a different way? Try the suggestions in this article from the Sling blog: Happy Work Anniversary: 5 Tips For Celebrating Your Team.

5) I Am, But I Am Not

To break down stereotypes and misconceptions, try this simple activity.

You’ll need paper, pens, and enough time for each person to share their thoughts, but it’s a great way for people to take pride in who they are and to build respect amongst their coworkers.

  1. Fold a regular sheet of paper in half from top to bottom.
  2. On the left half, have participants write the words, “I Am…”
  3. In the middle of the sheet (on top of the fold), have them write the word, “But.”
  4. On the right half, have participants write the words, “I Am Not…”
  5. Then, in the left column, ask participants to write something they are (e.g., man, woman, Korean, Asian, Catholic, Hindu, 25, 50).
  6. In the right column ask them to write something about that group that is not true about them (e.g., I am 50, but I am not afraid of technology.)
  7. Instruct participants to write at least five I Am, But I Am Not statements.
  8. Go around the group and share each statement.
  9. Discuss stereotypes and how your team can overcome them.

For more information on building a strong, respectful team, read this helpful article from the Sling blog: Team-Building Games: 4 Games Employees Will Actually Enjoy.

6) Potluck

It’s no surprise that one of everyone’s favorite diversity activities involves food.

For this icebreaker, ask the members of your team to bring in their favorite dish or dishes inspired by where they grew up.

Before you dig in, have each person give a bit of background about the food they brought and why they chose this dish over others.

7) A Fresh Perspective

Give your team a fresh perspective with this simple activity.

  1. Go around the room and ask each team member to share something about their background (e.g., education, skills, race, etc.).
  2. Pair each person in the group with another person who has a different background.
  3. Instruct each person to list the distinct challenges the other person faces on a daily basis.
  4. Gather again as a team or in small groups and discuss the biases and stereotypes you encountered.

These diversity activities are only the tip of the team-building iceberg. Take a few moments to read this tip-filled article from the Sling blog: 20 Quick Team-Building Activities For Small Business Leaders.

Schedule Diversity Activities For Best Results

Sling Software to help schedule diversity activities

As important as diversity activities are for the success of your team and your business, you never want to leave them up to chance.

For best results, schedule your icebreakers on a regular basis. This gives your employees every opportunity to experience the full benefits that group cohesion, strong company culture, and open communication have to offer.

The Sling app can help you keep track of the activities you’ve already conducted and help you make time for the ones you’d like to do next.

But that’s just one of the myriad ways the Sling suite of tools can help improve the way you do business.

Sling makes it easy to schedule everything from once-a-month virtual training sessions to day-after-day shift work for one employee or 100 (or more) employees to extremely complicated events such as grand-opening activities.

You can also manage and control payroll, overtime, and other labor costs with Sling’s intuitive user interface. Sling even offers a built-in time clock for a powerful all-in-one workforce-optimization system.

Sling truly is an all-in-one solution that will help you coordinate your diversity activities, your team, and so much more.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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