You found our list of fun virtual diversity and inclusion activities for the workplace.
Virtual diversity and inclusion activities are ways to acknowledge differences between remote coworkers and build safe, welcoming virtual offices. For example, online employee resource groups, remote holiday celebrations, and Zoom lunch and learns. The purpose of these activities is to promote acceptance and belonging in remote workplaces, educate and support employees, and create more equitable and inclusive virtual offices.
These efforts are a type of virtual team building exercise and can be a way to build trust on remote teams. These ideas are an online version of diversity and inclusion activities and are similar to community building activities.
This list includes:
- virtual diversity ice breakers
- virtual diversity and inclusion games
- diversity and inclusion activities for virtual teams
- diversity activities for virtual teams
- virtual diversity activities for the workplace
- diversity and inclusion games for virtual teams
- diversity and inclusion activities while working from home
Here are the ideas.
List of virtual diversity and inclusion activities
Here is a list of ideas to recognize diversity and foster inclusion in online offices.
1. Book club
Fostering diversity means acknowledging and understanding different viewpoints. Reading is one of the surest methods for gaining new perspectives. Starting a virtual book club is a way to educate employees about inclusion. Each month, you can read and discuss a book or article by a diverse author and/or about race, sexuality, disability, or creating equitable spaces.
To hold remote book clubs, first create a Slack channel for the group. Once a month, select a title to read for the next meeting, perhaps by voting. Give the group at least a month to read the piece. Then, meet up via Zoom to talk about the book.
Here is a list of diversity and inclusion books
2. Remote holiday celebrations
There are many holidays that celebrate the achievements and experiences of different identity groups, and celebrating these occasions is one of the most fun ways to promote inclusion in online workplaces.
Here is a list of guides for celebrating identity holidays online:
- Virtual Black History Month
- Virtual Women’s History Month
- Indigenous Heritage Month
- Latinx Heritage Month
- Asian Pacific Heritage Month
- Virtual Pride Month
- Disability Employment Awareness Month
Observing these occasions can be a mix of educational events like lectures and workshops as well as fun activities like parties and games. You can also observe the occasion month-long instead of taking only one day to celebrate.
3. Word association word clouds
Word association word clouds are one of the more unique remote diversity team building activities for large groups. To do this exercise, first ask teammates to fill out a form or survey by responding with the word that best describes certain concepts or the first word that comes to mind.
Here are example prompts:
When responses are in, put submissions into a word cloud generator. Words mentioned more frequently will appear larger, and vice versa. This exercise can show the diversity of thought within the group while also revealing similarities. Be sure to post or send the final result to participants, preferably in a forum that encourages communication such as a group email or a Slack thread.
4. Family photo albums
Photo albums are one of the easiest ways for remote teams to build a sense of community while celebrating differences. This activity provides a glimpse into colleagues’ nonwork lives and helps teammates get to know and understand each other better. Employees are able to contribute to the album and feel like a part of a bigger whole, and the intimate nature of the activity is a powerful means of remote team building. Plus, getting a window into different types of lifestyles can be an effective way to fight bias in the workplace.
First, create a digital space where teammates can share photos such as a Cloud album, Google Drive, and private social media group. Then, give team members access to the album and encourage them to contribute pictures. As motivation, you can periodically give prompts such as “family,” “childhood,” “celebration,” and “achievement.” However, team members can also upload photos at random.
Here are more relationship building activities.
5. Cooking classes and team meals
Food is a universal connector. Though dishes may differ, most cultures revolve around food. Eating is also an area where most folks are open to exploring, not to mention one of the most delicious ways to connect with different communities. Meal-centered activities are one of the most alluring ways to promote diversity.
For example, the team can take a virtual cooking class where an ethnic chef shows participants how to prepare meals from a specific country or for a certain occasion. Or, the group can have a team lunch and order a certain cuisine, and members of the corresponding community can share the cultural significance and personal memories relating to the food. The team can even go on a virtual food tour and learn about different dishes specific to a community, region, or country. Or, the team can meet up on Zoom and eat any type of food while discussing diversity issues and learning about relevant topics.
6. Master Calendars
Master calendars are one of the simplest online diversity and inclusion moment ideas. This exercise acknowledges the special occasions and celebrations that are important to different cultures. To create the calendar, ask employees to note the holidays or observances dearest to them. Teammates can send calendar invites to colleagues directly, however, we find that it is easier if one person curates the calendar. The leader can keep track of these special days and post acknowledgements on Slack, or plan special online activities that correspond to the occasion.
Employee resource groups are staff-led special interest groups that typically revolve around certain identities, such as religions, parenting, or race. ERGS can be one of the most effective remote diversity team building activities. You can create a Slack channel where members can raise issues or questions, share helpful or entertaining information, and connect with coworkers.
Employee resource groups can regularly meet virtually to discuss club business, and can also host virtual events open to the entire staff such as lectures, cooking celebrations, movie streams, or online meditations. These groups can be an effective way to promote camaraderie in remote offices, and the very existence of the groups can improve awareness and communicate the company’s dedication to supporting employees and creating spaces for staff to be fully themselves.
Here is a guide to employee resource groups.
8. Diversity Bingo
Bingo is one of the most fun virtual diversity and inclusion icebreakers. To do this activity, split participants into breakout rooms with a link to the card. Groups will talk about the descriptors on the card and team members will self identify which squares they relate to. Using an annotation feature or taking notes separately, players put the name of the corresponding coworker on the square. Participants who mark five squares in a row get Bingo. Players should try to get Bingo as many times as possible within the timespan.
You can also print out cards and play in person.
Here is a template:
Note that we made this template to celebrate differences, and not to tokenize. Be sure that players feel no expectation to share details they may not be comfortable making public in the workplace. Employees can self-identify if they feel comfortable doing so.
9. Storytelling Workshops
Sharing firsthand experiences is an important part of building trust, spreading knowledge, and inspiring change. Participating in this activity can help teammates learn to communicate and improve listening skills. Storytelling Workshops are two hour training sessions led by a master of the craft. The host shares a storytelling framework and leads groups in exercises designed to practice creating and sharing compelling narratives. This event can help employees discover their voice and feel more confident making themselves heard at work and telling their unique story.
10. Lunch and learns
Lunch and learns are one of the best remote diversity and inclusion ideas for work. You can use this activity format to educate employees on diversity issues. To host a virtual lunch and learn session, first find a speaker. You can look within your company, community, or recruit a subject matter expert from beyond your circle. Then, schedule a video call where the host will give a presentation. Be sure to leave time at the end of the session for questions, and if short on time or expecting a large turnout, then consider sending a form for question submissions prior to the call. You can use this time to educate employees on topics such as minority self-care, history of movements and impacts of lesser known influential figures, and how to be a better ally, for example.
Pro tip: Offer to cover or reimburse the cost of a takeout meal or snack for attendees.
Check out this guide to virtual lunch and learns.
11. Virtual art gallery
Virtual art galleries are one of the more creative online diversity and inclusion moment ideas. In this activity, teammates turn Zoom meetings into digital art galleries by changing their virtual backgrounds. Prior to the weekly or monthly Zoom staff mending, send attendees instructions to find a piece created by an artist of a certain community, and set that picture as the virtual background for the meeting. This activity works best if the artist is lesser known, emerging, and local, however you can leave the artist choice up to employees. You can open the meeting by talking briefly about the backgrounds, or typing the name of the piece and the artist into the chat. This exercise is a quick and subtle way to celebrate diversity, add variety to Zoom meetings, and help employees discover new art to enjoy.
12. Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is one of the most creative virtual diversity and inclusion icebreakers. This game is a go-to icebreaker for groups, and you can alter the prompts to highlight the struggles of different communities.
Here are some examples:
- Been afraid to show affection to a partner in public for fear of violence.
- Been told to “go back where you came from.”
- Been called a slur.
- Been stopped by the police for doing something innocuous.
- Been misgendered.
- Lived in a country where I couldn’t communicate with my native language.
- Been followed by someone, despite expressing disinterest.
- Not seen anyone who looks like me on TV while growing up.
- Not been able to physically enter a building because of lack of accessibility options.
- Had to use a different name to get respect.
For this version of the game, we suggest instead of team members taking turns making “Never Have I Ever” statements, a leader reads through the prompts one by one. Teammates that the description applies to either lower a finger, raise a hand, or keep their cameras on while other participants switch webcams off.
Even if there is no one within the group that a statement applies to, can take stock of privilege.
13. Pair and shares
Pair and shares are virtual diversity team building activities that revolve around teammates talking to each other. To do this exercise, split teammates into pairs or small groups by using the breakout room feature in Zoom. Then, challenge team members to find 1 to 4 things they all have in common, and 1 to 4 things that are different. This exercise highlights the similarities and differences between team members and helps colleagues find common ground. It also helps foster relationships which is a vital component of team cooperation, and is especially important in remote offices where teammates interact organically less often.
You can also do this activity asynchronously by randomly matching employees with a Slack app like Donut, and asking those employees to meet on Zoom or message on Slack to complete the task.
Role-playing can be a useful exercise to practice inclusive behavior and an effective diversity training method. You can conduct role-plays in group settings or individually. For example, team members can act out sample dialogues on Zoom, perhaps with one employee playing a part and the other reacting organically. Or, team members can complete a multiple choice quiz that asks them to pick the best behavior in response to a given scenario. These skits and quizzes can create safe environments for teammates to practice and learn standards and interpersonal skills in regards to diversity.
For similar activities, check out this list of improv games.
15. Guest speakers
Inviting guest speakers to give online lectures is one of the best ways to champion diversity at work. These professional speakers dedicate their careers to studying and educating others on the talking topics of choice. Employees benefit from this expertise and can ask questions and receive clear responses on the subject matter. Team members can tune into online talks while working remotely, and can listen passively or comment and question in the chat. If the speaker allows, then you can also post these talks publicly to raise more widespread awareness of these issues.
Check out this list of virtual event speakers.
16. Care packages
Care packages are one of the most fun work from home diversity and inclusion activities. To do this activity, first pick an assortment of products from diverse business owners. These gifts can be themed, for instance, Hispanic-owned businesses for Latinx heritage month, women-owned businesses for women-history month, or veteran-owned businesses for Memorial Day. Or, you can simply make more of an effort to source seasonal care package products from diverse businesses. Be sure to include a note about the business if their story is not already printed on the packaging, and encourage employees to continue to patronize the business if they enjoy the products.
For inspiration, here is a list of employee gift ideas.
17. Quote of the Day
Quote of the Day is one of the easiest online diversity activities. Each day, select a quote from a prominent figure within a certain community, and then share the sentiment with the team via Slack or internal email. Employees can learn about the figure by doing their own research, or you can provide a mini-profile for context. Even taking ten seconds to read the message can introduce recipients to these figures and broaden staff’s worldviews.
18. Rotating meeting leads
A lack of diverse leadership is a major problem in many workplaces. Rotating meeting leads gives employees equal experience guiding meetings and sharing perspectives, and gets team members familiar with respecting each other as authorities.
Depending on the size of your group, designate 1 to 4 meetings a month to be led by team members. Before the call, meet briefly or message with the meeting lead to align on the agenda and give tips for guiding the group.
The next step beyond this approach is to create leadership training and opportunities that welcome and encourage diverse team members to participate. However, giving employees equal opportunities to guide the group during gatherings is a good place to start. This practice can help team members build confidence and conviction.
Representation can be even harder in remote offices because team members often do not see colleagues at all or interact with a small group of coworkers. Plus, work from home employees tend to feel alienated more often than in-office counterparts, and a lack of attention to diversity issues can make employees feel even less of a sense of belonging.
The virtual diversity and inclusion activities on this list are ideas to demonstrate the company’s commitment to championing employee diversity and creating a welcoming and inclusive remote workplace for all employees. These exercises are part recognition, part education, and fully intended to promote progress and continue building towards a better world.