Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) — the hot topic of HR practices today. All companies want to have a diverse workforce and be known for their inclusive environments.
Workplace diversity is important, but becoming more diverse can be a struggle for some companies. Change is difficult, and, unfortunately, many companies often don’t see the value of spending the time and capital for it.
However, the facts speak for themselves. Diverse companies are reported to be more innovative, have better employee retention, and enjoy higher profits, among other benefits. Implementing workplace diversity and inclusion doesn’t have to be a complicated and arduous process. We’ve even taken some of the work off your shoulders! Enjoy our list of diversity activities for the workplace that promote inclusion and workplace diversity.
With COVID-19 changing the way we navigate the workforce, you may be wondering how to create an inclusive and diverse work environment. Creating a diverse workforce isn’t impossible in a remote or hybrid setting. You’ll just have to get a little extra creative with diversity and inclusion tactics.
To keep this list of diversity activities for the workplace organized, we’ve separated them into the following categories:
- Recruiting Strategies
- Workplace Strategies
- Retention Strategies
Ideas for Diversity and Inclusion Activities in the Workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are essential to creating a welcoming and professional atmosphere. Luckily, there are plenty of methods on how to promote diversity in the workplace.
Recruiting Strategies for Building a Diverse Workforce
- Recruit diverse workers.
Your company doesn’t become diverse overnight, but you can make progress by taking the first step of recruiting diverse employees. This is especially relevant if you are having problems filling positions. The wider your recruitment scope, the more qualified and diverse candidates you will find.
- Create a company diversity and inclusion policy.
If you have specific language attached to your diversity and inclusion policy, it makes it much easier for employees to process and implement it. You should make this statement short, to the point, and it should be posted in relevant places. Consider even implementing it into your mission statement and cover it during new hire training.
- Initiate equal pay policies across your organization.
This should be a fairly simple one to understand. People in the same position with similar levels of experience in your company should be getting equal pay. No exceptions to this rule should be made. Forbes offers great examples of companies with equal pay policies.
- Make sure that equal pay policies are applied even in the interview process.
Equal pay policies can be implemented in interview processes as well. They make sure that people cannot negotiate their way to a higher salary. These are great equalizers because women are statistically less likely to lobby for higher pay in their initial interviews. Initiating an equal pay policy is a great way to make sure that everyone who has the same experience gets paid the same with no exceptions.
- Make initial candidate screening a blind screening.
A great way on how to promote diversity in the workplace and ensure that you are not introducing any biases into your interview process is to have blind screenings. Blind screenings are application screens that are based on applicable experience and skills only. This should allow the candidate some time to discuss their unique assets in an interview.
- Include varied employees in the interview process.
The best way to continue bringing on a diverse staff is to show them that you have already accepted many diverse individuals. However, there is a fine line to this. Don’t overuse your diverse employees and make them feel like an advertising campaign instead of valued employees with authority to interview.
- Have a structured interview process.
A highly structured interview process is another great way to promote inclusivity. If everyone gets the same interview process, it gives all candidates the same chance at the job. Stick with consistent questions and give each candidate the chance to shine.
- Ensure a smooth training and transition period for new hires.
An established training program for new hires is a great way to make sure that they feel welcome and valued as new team members. We also advise frequent check-ins during those first few months so that any kinks in the training program, or their position, are worked out before they become a problem. Establishing a valuable training period can make the transition into a new job easier and allow for flexibility in a remote environment as well.
- Promote your D&I to attract more D&I.
Many candidates are just looking for a safe space where they can do their job to the best of their abilities. Broadcast that your company is the place they should be for this on all job descriptions and postings. Knowing how to promote diversity in the workplace should also carry into your company brand to draw in any potential candidates.
- Encourage veteran services and specific hiring practices.
Workplace diversity also applies to veterans. Often a forgotten group, make sure they know what jobs they would be qualified for in your company by including military job codes and specific skills in your job postings.
- Provide socio-economic assistance.
If your company is in a city that is less affordable for entry-level and junior employees, consider offering affordable housing options, employee cafeterias, and options to help with the cost of living. If possible, provide an opportunity to work remotely to save you and your employee a bit on expenses.
- Implement hiring practices to avoid ageism.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace does not just include people of different cultures, races, and genders. It also includes people from different generations and age groups. When interviewing candidates, qualifications are the key component to be mindful of.
Workplace Strategies to Improve Morale and Inclusivity
- Prioritize diversity and inclusion.
Knowing where your company priorities lie can help employees understand the significance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This can mean including these in your company values, hosting regular training events, participating in regular diversity activities in the workplace, or simply having open conversations. When employees understand that D&I is a high priority for the company as a whole, they tend to make it a higher priority personally as well.
- Keep company language gender-neutral.
Making sure that all company communications are gender-neutral is a great start to making your company inclusive. We also advise that this language be used in all company job postings. The use of inclusive language will lead to a more diverse pool of candidates. If you’re unsure how to promote diversity in the workplace within this method, consider having an open conversation with a diverse group of employees regarding what language would be best.
- Treat colleagues the way they want to be treated.
This is a common lesson we are taught in childhood: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. While this is a good piece of advice when you’re teaching little kids how to behave around other people, it doesn’t translate as well to adulthood. Create a workplace culture that promotes good communication between coworkers and makes them feel comfortable voicing how they would like to be addressed and treated. This should even transfer over to Zoom call meetings and email communication in a virtual environment.
- Have open lines of communication.
Having an open communication policy, especially with your HR department, is a great way to promote diversity and inclusivity in your workplace. When everyone feels valued and their opinion is heard and matters, they are more likely to be happier in your workplace. Use this open line of communication to set clear expectations for work behavior and outline policies.
- Provide sensitivity training.
Sensitivity training or diversity workshops educate your employees on how their attitudes and behaviors may unwittingly cause offense to their co-workers or others around them. Offering regular training, either in-person or via a virtual call, can increase the awareness of employee treatment.
- Support the creation of affinity groups within your office.
Sometimes employees need a safe space to build a community with like-minded people, and employers should support that through employee resource groups. Check out a great example of this with Synchrony Financial’s Diversity Network.
- Allow company groups to do community outreach.
A great way to promote diversity is by doing outreach to local groups that are meaningful to your company and mission. PetSmart is a great local example of this, with continued initiatives to support community outreach.
- Encourage management involvement in affinity and outreach organizations.
Diversity and inclusion happen from the top down. Encourage management to take part in diversity activities in the workplace with their teams. It will allow for bonding and a better understanding of their teams.
- Initiate corporate-wide culture change for diversity and inclusion.
In order to have a truly diverse and inclusive company culture, your whole company has to adapt. Implement these changes at a higher level, not just departmentally, to start the process of creating a diverse workplace.
- Have your company participate in communication assessments.
Communication assessments are a great start to building better teams. By knowing how each employee communicates, you can create a place that fits those needs and establishes more efficient communication.
Diversity Workshop Ideas: How to Plan and FacilitateDiversity workshops can be planned either in-house or by an external consultant. Many choose to outsource the whole experience to experts specializing in hosting workshops and customized events for inclusion promotion. If you choose to plan and host your own internally, here are a few diversity workshop ideas to set the stage:
- Decide on how to organize attendees. You can have an organization-wide starting point followed by smaller breakout sessions that mix all departments or keep working teams together. If group members aren’t familiar with each other, extra ice breakers may be necessary.
- Set clear ground rules and expectations for the workshop. Include end-of-day goals and how to speak respectfully to others during discussions.
- Carefully plan the workshop’s content. Whether this comes from off-site consultants or leadership, the content should be focused on organizational goals and pain points.
- Incorporate diversity games and activities. Engage participants and create a more casual environment online or in-person with plenty of activities.
- Solicit feedback. After the workshop ends, collect feedback that may help with improvements for future events.
- Give recognition for a job well done. This is an easy one to implement across teams. Giving recognition to someone doing an exceptional job is a wonderful way to promote inclusion in your company. Host a celebratory Zoom meeting or small office party to congratulate your team on wins. A great diversity and inclusion workplace example is hosting a weekly Zoom meeting to celebrate small wins throughout the week so every employee feels consistently valued.
- Honor loyal employees. Similar to celebrating wins, throw Zoom parties or host an in-person event to congratulate employees who have stuck with the company for a certain number of years. Celebrating the big milestones, like 25 years with the company, can improve morale and show all employees that your company values their dedication, especially through any hard times that occurred with COVID-19.
- Create inclusive company swag. Your company gear should have options for all genders, like t-shirts or jackets with a more feminine cut. One-size-fits-all tees aren’t always the desired look for everyone.
- Provide unconscious bias training. We don’t want to admit it, but we all have unconscious biases. Unfortunately, they are ingrained into us via society, and there is little we can do to prevent them from existing. However, providing unconscious bias training is a wonderful way to make people aware of it and help them move past it.
- Adjust the work environment to make it comfortable for everyone. Comfortable for everyone means temperature, desks, chairs — essentially your whole office. Make it the place you want to be. Give people, especially those with disabilities, the ability to adapt their work environment to make them more comfortable and productive. Offer to send necessary supplies to employees’ homes in a remote work environment.
- Promote team bonding activities. Encourage your manager to build better and more cohesive teams with diversity and inclusion activities at work. A great way to do this is with team bonding activities. This can be anything from playing an online game via Zoom to going bowling as a team to doing a full company retreat weekend. Create better teams to promote more inclusion!
How to Plan a Diversity Day in the WorkplaceWhile having occasional diversity activities in the workplace to engage your organization will bring attention to an integral part of work, planning a designated day of the year puts the spotlight on understanding everyone’s unique differences. By setting time aside, employees won’t need to worry about running to the next meeting or checking their inboxes as they listen to a diversity training video in the background. In addition, it’s a fun way to engage with coworkers in a stress-free environment and break the ice. Here are some ideas to plan a diversity day in your organization:
- Appoint a diversity committee. This can be a group of employees or an HR individual that will lead the planning.
- Get leadership’s buy-in. Free up a day or half-day organization-wide for this event.
- Plan a schedule. Using the diversity activities on this list, schedule a day full of interactive activities for your workshop.
- Hire keynote speakers. These individuals can be from your committee or experts in the field.
- Cater food and beverages. Promote a laid-back atmosphere and engage workers by offering snacks or catering a lunch during in-person events.
- Solicit everyone’s feedback. After the event, ask for feedback to make improvements for next year’s diversity day.
- Bring in a third-party observer.
If your company is struggling to put together an effective diversity and inclusion strategy, you might need to bring in a third-party expert or a Diversity and Inclusion consultant. There are many companies that specialize in diversity and inclusion policies that would be able to look at your organization from a subjective point of view.
- Hold inclusive meetings.
Inclusive meetings are a great way to promote diversity in the workplace. Allow anyone relevant to the meeting to attend. These meetings will open the lines of communication, and the attendees will likely have some helpful ideas to contribute! Keep in mind that representation matters, so you should be hearing from a diverse group of individuals during these meetings.
- Institute a “no interruptions” policy
During these inclusive meetings, institute a no interruptions policy. Everyone should get to contribute their idea, and should not be talked over.
- Keep bathroom signage inclusive
During these inclusive meetings, institute a no interruptions policy. Everyone should get to contribute their ideas and should not be talked over.
- Make sure office tasks are split equally if your office is small.
There is always one employee who ends up doing the office dishes or general cleaning. It should not be this way. Instead, split up these tasks equally between teams or create a chore chart.
- Publish signage and notification of policies.
Having company policies published across your office is a great way to make sure everyone is aware of your diversity and inclusion policies, and it’s a good reminder throughout their day. Frequent reminders will teach your employees how to promote diversity in the workplace.
- Instill a PTO Day for voting.
Providing a PTO day for voting is another way to encourage diversity in the workplace and allow people to partake in their civic duty.
- Maintain the work-life balance mantra.
Work-life balance is a challenge in any office, but the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on a new form of this challenge. Many employees find it difficult to set boundaries between work and personal life when their office is just a few steps away from their kitchen. Encourage employees to stick with their set hours and spend their out-of-office hours focused on their personal life. Burnout is real, and it can happen quickly.
- Allow for religious practices in the workplace.
Allow employees to practice their religion in the workplace. Many religions practice prayer multiple times a day — this is a great way to make them feel included and promote diversity in the workplace. This can also mean providing time off during religious holidays.
- Provide health and wellness reimbursements.
Workplace diversity can also be fostered by workplace well-being. Promote this with health and wellness reimbursements for gym memberships, on-site yoga classes, or once-a-month massages.
- Offer tuition reimbursement and support for continued education.
Education is only getting more and more expensive, and it is a large burden on potential employees. Offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees, as well as tuition help for those who want to pursue graduate-level education.
- Create offices suited for all physical abilities.
Your office should be suited and comfortable for people of all abilities. Discuss any changes that may need to be made to your office space during internal meetings or offer the option to continue to work from home for individuals who may struggle to commute.
- Schedule regular check-ins with employees.
Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has left a large number of employees feeling further isolated without their usual work conversations. Scheduling regular check-ins with employees can remind them that they are highly valued and their work is appreciated even in a remote environment.
Inclusive Retention Strategies to Keep Your Star Players
- Keep your workers happy and gain the loyalty of all employees.
People leave jobs because of practical reasons that affect work and life balance, relationships and respect, and lack of career potential. Apply this knowledge to your workplace. A positive workplace coupled with diverse recruiting practices will ultimately lead to a better, more inclusive workplace.
- Give educational workshops.
Giving your employees chances to learn about new cultures, different viewpoints, and other lifestyles is a great way to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Implement educational workshops where employees can work together to learn new perspectives.
- Offer flexible PTO.
This is one of our favorite workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives. Flexible PTO is really one of the best things you can offer your employees. Apart from parents with erratic schedules, others may have chronic health issues or personal reasons to need time off. It shows that you care about them as people and will lead to them wanting to stay with your company longer.
- Provide subsidized child care.
Parents are often not included in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and we think that needs to change. The best companies for working parents provide subsidized child care or on-site daycare, which is a great way to take a load off of parents and keep them thriving in your workplace.
- Offer wide-ranging healthcare options.
Having the option to cover your family with comprehensive health insurance is a great way to be inclusive of your workers and their families. Be sure to provide coverage to those with domestic partners or who take care of elder relatives.
- Facilitate employee mentorship programs.
Employees who do not feel that they are encouraged to learn and move up in your company will ultimately find somewhere else to work. A great way to foster employee engagement is by implementing mentorship programs. This can promote communication between employees and encourage a more connected workforce.
- Encourage management to support diversity & inclusion.As mentioned earlier, diversity and inclusion start from the top down. Partaking in diversity activities in the workplace as an executive team and understanding how your actions trickle down to the company is imperative.
Diversity Committee Ideas: How to Start OneA diversity committee is a group of volunteers at work who are passionate about diversity and know how to promote diversity in the workplace. Rather than having leadership or HR trickle-down diversity awareness programs, a designated diversity committee acts as the main organizing body for all initiatives. Members can consist of workers or managers from all departments, increasing perspective and representation. Here are a few diversity committee ideas to get started:
- Announce a call for volunteers. Find passionate individuals who are ready to tackle diversity in the workplace.
- Define what diversity means. Using diversity and inclusion in the workplace examples, define what these terms mean for your company and its employees.
- Establish a mission statement. Set clear goals in this statement for the diversity committee.
- Hold periodic meetings. Discuss new initiatives that align with organizational goals and involve business partners, the community, and non-committee members.
- Decide on an implementation process. Include the buy-in of leadership and make the committee’s presence known to the entire organization.
- Get inspired by the diversity and inclusion activities. Using this endless list of activities, plan your first movement and get started!
- Make your HR team available.
Make sure someone is always available to listen to team members’ problems or ideas for diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Your HR department should never be viewed as ‘“too busy” to help and listen.
- Have a firm structure for moving up in the company.
A solid structure and knowing how to move up in your company can go a long way for inclusivity. Everyone should have the same opportunities for promotion and be well aware of what that entails.
- Provide career development.
Career development workshops for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other groups within your company help promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.
- Have regular company meetings.
Secrecy and rapid changes with little information are surefire ways to create a toxic work culture. Avoid this by ensuring employees are up to date with happenings and feel they are an important part of the company. A quick weekly Zoom meeting or smaller team meetings in the office are a great way to keep everyone in the loop!
- Offer flexible parental leave for new parents.
Maternity and paternity leave is a great benefit for new parents. This leave should also include those parents who have recently adopted or are fostering children. An additional program to offer is flexible scheduling for parents and non-parents alike to address family matters, as life happens to everyone.
- Create programs and appropriate disability health coverage.
Offering comprehensive health coverage for employees of differing abilities can go a long way toward workplace diversity. Cover programs for employees with disabilities or employees with family members that have a disability.
- Provide transportation reimbursements.
Another great perk to offer employees coming back into office that promotes inclusion is to do public transportation reimbursements, carpool reimbursement, or have a company-specific transport like Google does with their buses.
- Allow for telecommuting, flex time, and remote work.
Giving employees the freedom to work remotely, have flex time, and permanently telecommute promotes an inclusive and diverse workplace. Since you may have already been remote for some time during the pandemic, the transition to staying remote should be seamless.
- Make your office a place people want to be.
Promote those positive office vibes. Have a meeting room with a ping pong table for employees to enjoy on their lunch break, provide nap pods, or make a corner of the office devoted to hammocks and bean bags for employee meetings. Making your office space feel more comfortable and a little like home can promote higher productivity and morale.
- Provide grief support for employees.
Life happens to all employees, and unfortunately, loss is a part of life. Make your employees feel supported by offering grief support and leave if needed.
- Offer mental health resources.
Offering mental health resources is a great way to promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Setting aside designated time to get counseling or psychiatric treatment, as well as offering in-office therapy and support groups, are great places to start.
Now, let’s make your company the next great example of diversity in the workplace!
In conclusion, we can all agree that diversity and inclusion are extremely important measures to implement in your company. With recruiting, retention, and overall workplace happiness benefits, there isn’t any reason not to. Use these diversity activities in the workplace to make your company’s future a little brighter and more welcoming for all individuals.
Not sure where to get started? Contact BestCompaniesAZ to learn all about diversity and inclusion training and the companies that are rocking the D&I game!
(Originally published February 2019. Updated July 2021.)