The Benefits of DEI Activities Go Further Than You Think

Feb 09 2024 | Einblicke
A woman and a man sat on a pink sofa, with notepads and laptops on their laps, discussing workplace diversity and inclusion activities.

Despite the concept of Diversity & Inclusion being around since the 1960’s, creating an inclusive workplace is still a continuous process for organisations and businesses. It’s important to stress that workplace inclusion cannot be solved in a day. It is deeply rooted within the company and its culture, making it an evolving experience that encompasses each employee and their active involvement.

A study found that, regardless of their identity, most individuals have a very similar understanding of what inclusion really looks like: things like feeling heard, feeling valued, being understood and supported are all characteristics they feel define inclusivity – all of which can be supported by everyday practices in the workplace.

At an organisational level, formal diversity and inclusion initiatives are critical to supporting an inclusive employee experience through processes such as hiring, onboarding and further development. But you can also promote inclusivity through less formal team activities. These diversity and inclusion activities not only help employees to connect and create a sense of togetherness and belonging within a business but can also bring a surplus of additional benefits.

Inclusion and diversity activities for the workplace don’t need to be too prescriptive; instead, they should be fun and accessible. Some activities include:

  • Celebration of different festivities

  • Inclusive social activities

  • Virtual activities

  • Team socials and games

  • Create systems for sharing

Celebration of different festivities

With a more diverse workforce comes a flourish of exciting celebrations. Look at supporting various religious or inclusive festivities or events, like Eid and Pride. Not only is this a fun way of helping colleagues to feel accepted and included, but it also creates a culture of knowledge sharing, helping your employees to understand each other better and become a more synonymous team. When your team is closer, productivity and performance can thrive – the benefits stretch further than individual support and acceptance.

Inclusive social activities

Although it’s easy to get everyone together over a drink after work, businesses should be mindful that these events aren’t always inclusive. For example, not everybody drinks alcohol, and the rise of a teetotal lifestyle has inflated dramatically over recent years. Other things to be mindful of are schedules, some employees may have families to get back to after work. Others might have dietary requirements or preferences that don’t allow them to join you at that restaurant.

Instead, think about how you can make these events inclusive. For example, hosting occasions with non- or low-alcoholic beverages, or keeping some completely alcohol-free. You might organise a potluck lunch, where everyone can bring in different dishes that they can eat and are inspired by their culture or heritage. You could schedule a collaborative team breakfast into the workday, allowing people who have commitments after work to join.

There are plenty of DEI group activities that get everyone involved, as well as celebrating differences within a diverse workforce.

Virtual activities

With office attendance still 30% lower than pre-pandemic, businesses mustn’t forget virtual employees. As we’ve mentioned, inclusivity is about feeling valued and supported, whether that be in the office, or at home.

Some ideas for boosting inclusivity within a virtual workforce include encouraging virtual coffee meets or scheduling short socials over Teams or Zoom. Remember to consider time zones to facilitate interaction between global teams.

Team socials & games

Not only do team socials and team games make getting to know colleagues’ fun, but they also promote the sharing of differences and similarities within a team. This, again, allows everyone to feel heard and supported, but also allows teams to unearth facts about their colleagues they didn’t know, encouraging teams to feel better connected. This could be as simple as dividing people into small teams and asking them to find out what experiences, interests and opinions they have in common (extra points if it’s more unique).

Create systems for sharing

Celebrate your employees and make them feel valued by supporting them to share their individuality in the systems they use every day. Consider where your employees already spend their time, such as email, social channels and human resource management systems. And encourage them to share their personality, passions and expertise through personalised bios, email signatures and posts.

You could even create a snapshot board. Create an area in the office, or in a shared drive or channel to encourage interaction with remote and global colleagues, where employees can put up pictures that show an important part of their life, like their family, their passion or an important place for them. This not only shows you’re valuing them as individuals, but it also encourages others to ask questions and get to know their colleagues.

Why invest time into your workplace diversity and inclusion program?

A study found that, in their current roles fewer than 30% of employees feel fully included, and roughly 65% of people across identity groups view an inclusive environment as “very important” when they are considering new roles.

Creating a workplace culture that is both diverse and inclusive is deceptively hard, so there’s a real need to invest time and resource into doing so. But the benefits of doing so surpass just how supported and included you can make your employees feel – you’ll likely not just retain top talent but attract it too; you’ll boost engagement and employee happiness, which in turn will boost individual and business performance.

All of the DEI activities we suggested recognise and celebrate similarities and differences, encourage openness and sharing AND are fun. Leaders and managers can set a great tone here by sharing their own background and experiences. By creating this underlying trust in the workplace, they create a safe place for employees to ask questions and promote open discussion, allowing people to feel valued, supported and heard.

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