Employees can struggle in different ways, and those with diverse backgrounds face challenges that others won’t, such as:
- Women are 20 percent less likely to gain support for their ideas than men are;
- People of colour are 24 percent less likely to gain support; and,
- Employees from the LGBT community are 21 percent less likely.
If your organization is not working on diversity and inclusion activities, you risk driving top talent away from your company and building an organization that is a monoculture.
Why are diversity and inclusion activities important to have in the workplace?
Cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace requires effort and intention, but the payoff is worth it. Some of the reasons that organizations develop activities to promote diversity at work include:
- It demonstrates to employees that they can bring their whole selves to work. The freedom of knowing this cultivates a feeling of belonging for all employees.
- Other employees can benefit from the opportunity to learn about others and their perspectives and experiences.
- Inclusive workplaces build strong team cultures. And employees want to work at companies that support diversity and inclusion. A CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey found that 80 percent of workers want to be employed by an organization that values diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Inclusive activities also encourage dialogue around issues of diversity in the workplace. These conversations can focus on what your organization can do to mitigate employees' challenges.
Short-term diversity and inclusion activities that you can do in a day
Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace involves short-term and long-term activities to help promote the needed changes. Here are some actions you can take in the short term that can start your organization moving in the right direction.
Celebrate calendar days around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
Make a point of celebrating key days throughout the year that can enhance diversity, inclusivity, equity and belonging in your organization. Some of the days you may want to mark include the national mentoring month in January, equal pay day on April 2, and world kindness day on Nov. 13.
Host cultural or traditional parties
Set a day aside for a cultural party to help employees understand and appreciate a co-worker’s unique cultural heritage. For example, Odelia Chan recommends having traditional dishes prepared for a team lunch on Chinese New Year. “Decorate the office or kitchen area with red lanterns and other Chinese decorations. You may even want to play traditional music to celebrate. However, it’s important to discuss your plans with employees beforehand to ensure everyone is comfortable. It’s also crucial to be sensitive to some activities that may be seen as disrespectful, such as having everyone dress up in traditional clothing.”
Seminar on inclusive behaviours
Educating employees about inclusive behaviours is another way to help promote diversity and belonging at work. Organize a seminar that can lead them to understand what inclusive behaviours you want to see. It’s also important to remember your remote teams and to encourage them to adopt some best practices to promote an inclusive community.
Groups of employees share their most defining moments
Sharing experiences can help employees understand each other better. Ask everyone to think about a couple of the most defining moments of their lives. Then have the group share these moments with others. This is also an activity that promotes vulnerability, which can lead employees to develop more meaningful relationships with one another.
Discuss unconscious bias in the workplace
It’s also beneficial to discuss unconscious bias that can negatively impact your workplace. A report from Deloitte found that 68 percent of employees experienced or witnessed a bias at work. Researchers also found this experience disrupted the employee’s productivity. During the discussion, it’s vital to examine ideas about how to mitigate unconscious bias for a more inclusive workplace.
Hosting happy hours are a great way to invite employees to be social with each other. These activities encourage the whole company to get to know each other in a low-pressure way. An added benefit of happy hour activities is that they can also be done virtually for your hybrid or remote staff.
Longer-term diversity and inclusion activities
Some longer-term activities that your organization can invest in will help build on the changes that the short-term activities initiated. Here are some essential things you can do to help develop a more diverse organization over time.
Mentorship programs that pair employees from diverse backgrounds
Workplace mentoring programs have a lot of benefits for employees and payoffs for employers. One of these is that it can build the skills and confidence of diverse employees. Encouraging employees to engage in mentoring activities can also cultivate understanding between employees from different backgrounds. For your organization, it can also boost revenue and innovation. If your organization doesn’t already have a mentoring program, Together’s platform makes it easy to get started.
Starting an employee resource group
Assist your employees in building connections and finding support within your organization by encouraging them to start employee resource groups or ERGs. The types of ERGs that your organization can have depend on your employees. Groups can be for women in the workplace, employees with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ employees. And the best part is the employees themselves take the initiative for change.
Enrolling employees in diversity training
Whether you’re a huge corporation or a small business, diversity training for your employees is a must-have. Your employees will be representing your organization to the public, and you’ll want them to help build a positive reputation. When they can understand more about diversity, they’ll develop an understanding that is key to cultivating positive interactions with others.
Host a book club focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Encouraging your employees to be social and learn at the same time can lead to a more diverse and inclusive culture. Consider hosting a book club and reading stories that focus on diversity or inclusive subjects. Whether you chose a fiction or non-fiction piece to review together, it can open up the minds of your employees and enhance their understanding of different perspectives.
Short days for working parents
Balancing work and life for parents can be a stressful challenge. Consider offering shorter workdays to these employees. One company, Joonko, does this and allows its employees to pick two days out of the week where they can work shorter days.
Professional development stipends
Having a highly-trained workforce has several advantages for your business, including helping diverse employees develop their skills and capabilities. Organizations can allocate a budget for employees to engage in courses that help them develop professionally.
Empathy training for leaders
Help your company leaders to be more sensitive and receptive to employee concerns. When they undergo empathy training, leaders will be better positioned to assist employees in finding a resolution to their challenges. This gives diverse employees confidence that if they share a particular policy that ignores them, leaders will act on it and not ignore it.
How employee connection supports diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Creating an inclusive culture is more than just hiring talent from different backgrounds. It requires a shift in mindset. Building connections among your employees can cultivate understanding and respect among your team members. With Together’s Employee Connection Platform, companies can strengthen diversity and inclusion within their organization.
Education is key to attaining your company’s diversity, equity and inclusive goals. Cultivating a culture of belonging where your employees can feel welcomed and belong at your company.
With Together, you can support your diversity efforts by matching employees with peers, mentors and experts they can learn from. Mentoring offers growth and learning for all participants, no matter their role. Learn more about how to support diversity with mentorship and ERG programs.