🚀 The Event Playbook: Proven strategies to level up your next event!

🚀 The Event Playbook:
Proven strategies to level up your next event!

Dt team building activities.

Getting Creative with DEI Team Building Activities

Team building that sparks storytelling across differences can unlock acceptance, respect, and belonging in an organization.

Creating a truly inclusive workplace takes more than policies on paper.

While executive mandates set the vision, fostering equitable belonging happens through human connections.

This starts with teams that embrace diversity not as an obligation, but as a collective strength.

Structured team building provides dedicated spaces for teammates to bridge divides by exchanging stories, airing grievances, and sparking curiosity across differences.

Sessions aim to build the vulnerability-based trust and psychological safety for hard conversations that shift mindsets over time.

Leaders play an integral role in nurturing team cohesion through modeling inclusive behaviors daily.

Small conscious efforts like encouraging identity sharing, allowing flexibility around traditions, and gently addressing exclusive language can help ingrain sensitivity as a workplace norm.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore interactive ideas for virtual and in-person activities tailored to build cultural bridges.

You’ll discover how to facilitate sessions addressing privilege, unconscious bias, and microaggressions that structure healthy debate.

We’ll also discuss pointers for keeping inclusion front and center during onboardings.

While DEI work brings growing pains for even the most well-intentioned, the rewards of equitable belonging for both business and humanity make pressing forward worthwhile.

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Why DEI Team Building is Essential

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have become increasingly important for organizations looking to create equitable and inclusive workplaces.
While policies and training programs are crucial, truly embedding DEI principles requires engagement at the team level.

DEI team building provide opportunities for team members to connect across differences, understand varying perspectives and experiences, and build trust.

Ultimately, these activities aim to create psychological safety where everyone feels comfortable contributing ideas without fear of judgment.

Some key reasons why investing time in DEI team building can pay dividends:

  • Enhances communication and collaboration: Activities that promote sharing diverse experiences and perspectives can help team members better understand each other. This builds empathy and makes it easier to communicate openly.
  • Strengthens relationships and trust: Vulnerability-based trust exercises bring team members closer together. Teams that trust each other are more cohesive, collaborative, and productive.
  • Supports inclusive leadership: Leaders demonstrating curiosity about different viewpoints signals that multiple perspectives are valued. This empowers team members to voice concerns and ideas.
  • Boosts innovation: Different lived experiences expand the team’s overall perspective. This cognitive diversity leads to better problem solving, creativity, and decision making.
  • Drives engagement and retention: Employees want to feel respected at work. DEI team building demonstrates a commitment to equitable treatment and makes employees feel valued.

While shifting organizational culture takes time, small actions like DEI team building can spark positive change from the ground up.

Thoughtfully facilitating these shared experiences sends the message that every employee plays a vital role in building an inclusive workplace.

Virtual DEI Team Building Activity Ideas

With remote and hybrid work becoming more prevalent, having creative virtual DEI team building ideas in your back pocket is key.

Well-designed activities can bring distributed teams closer together while promoting understanding and inclusivity.Here are some meaningful and engaging virtual DEI team building activities to consider:

Virtual Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts take on a whole new meaning in a remote setting!

The goal is to collectively find objects, photos, or facts that provide glimpses into team members’ lives and backgrounds.


  • Find something that represents your family background or culture
  • Show a favorite childhood toy or game
  • Share a photo of a beloved pet
  • Find an object in your home that brings you comfort or inspiration

Debrief questions help uncover common interests and experiences that unite the team.

Show & Share Workspaces

A virtual tour of team members’ workspaces not only satisfies curiosity, but offers perspective into how different people approach their working environment based on personality, job function, and personal circumstances.


  • Share workspace setup and how it supports productivity
  • Show favorite items that make the space feel personal
  • Explain if the workspace shifts based on mindset (creative vs focus)
  • Demonstrate ergonomic equipment or wellness elements

Comparing and contrasting approaches sparks insightful conversations about work styles.

Virtual Cooking Class

Cooking a shared meal is a staple team bonding experience…and launching a virtual cooking class makes it possible to maintain this tradition remotely!

Select recipes that represent team members’ cultural backgrounds.

Walk through preparing ingredients and cooking methods together over video. Then enjoy the (virtual) meal together and discuss impressions.

Beyond preparing a dish, this activity builds connectivity through storytelling related to food, family traditions, and home.

Digital Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking workshop-style activities encourage teammates to share memorable photos and keepsakes from life experiences.

Curate pages as a team by adding photos, captions, stickers, and designs.

Share the significance around events like graduations, weddings, travel adventures, family milestones, etc.

The creative process sparks meaningful conversations that uncover common ground.

Virtual Culture Fair

Have team members prepare presentations spotlighting aspects of identity they’d like to spotlight, including family histories, cultural practices, values instilled by backgrounds etc.

Set up informational “booths” for small groups to cycle through, ask questions and find commonalities.

Shared food and art often bring people together.

If budgets allow, this activity could culminate in mailed culture fair “passports” with tasty items from diverse locales along with printed programs.

Digital Timelines

Have individuals build digital timelines illustrating personal journeys with branches for lifestages, important events, cultural touchpoints, places lived, extracurricular involvement etc.

Save time for storytelling takeaways in discussion groups to uncover themes.

Bonus activity: Combine timelines to create a layered visual indicating how teammates’ stories weave together over time, even if paths didn’t directly cross before.

This symbolizes working as one ecosystem.

Digital Journaling

Have participants submit private online journal entries focused on reflection questions related to personal identity, experiences around inclusion/exclusion, observing unconscious biases within themselves, etc.

Volunteers can choose to share insights with the group.

Virtual Culture Fair

Have team members prepare presentations spotlighting aspects of identity they’d like to spotlight, including family histories, cultural practices, values instilled by backgrounds etc.

Set up informational “booths” for small groups to cycle through, ask questions and find commonalities.

Shared food and art often bring people together.

If budgets allow, this activity could culminate in mailed culture fair “passports” with tasty items from diverse locales along with printed programs.

Digital Timelines

Have individuals build digital timelines illustrating personal journeys with branches for lifestages, important events, cultural touchpoints, places lived, extracurricular involvement etc.
Save time for storytelling takeaways in discussion groups to uncover themes.

Bonus activity: Combine timelines to create a layered visual indicating how teammates’ stories weave together over time, even if paths didn’t directly cross before. This symbolizes working as one ecosystem.

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In-Person DEI Team Building Activities

While remote sessions allow for virtual bonding, in-person events should not be underestimated when it comes to their impact.

Reading facial expressions and body language often conveys what words cannot.

If your team has flexibility to meet up occasionally, consider these engaging in-person DEI team building ideas:

Storytelling Workshops

Storytelling remains one of the most powerful ways for teammates to develop authentic connections.

This activity asks volunteers to share a 3-5 minute personal story focused on an experience related to their background or identity.


  • A childhood memory
  • An impactful event
  • A family tradition
  • A personal challenge or achievement

The storyteller shares details, emotions, and impressions while the audience practices mindful listening.

Takeaways uncover both common threads and insightful differences.

Inclusion Photography

This activity leverages visual storytelling by asking team members to take photos that represent facets of their identity they’d like to share.

It could involve gender, ethnicity, family roles, interests/hobbies, important milestones, etc.
Participants display and discuss a few choice photos with the larger group.

Images often spark curiosity for teammates to exchange questions and perspectives on culture, traditions, interests or experiences represented.

Privilege Walk

A Privilege Walk is an impactful activity that aims to build empathy by visually demonstrating how people have different access and advantages in life based on their backgrounds.

Participants stand together in a line. The facilitator reads various statements such as:

  • Take a step forward if you grew up in a two-parent household
  • Take a step forward if no one in your family dropped out of high school
  • Take a step forward if you vacationed growing up

At the end, teammates occupying different locations spur discussion around observations, reflections, sources of privilege and disadvantage.

Affinity Groups

Affinity groups allow participants to connect based on a shared identity, culture or experience.

Groups can be based on categories like gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, military service, etc.

Team members split into their respective affinity groups for discussion questions or activities.

Takeaways are then shared, which promote learning about issues or experiences specific to the affinity groups.

Cross-Cultural Potluck

Have participants sign up to bring a dish representing their cultural background to share in a potluck style meal.

Set aside time during the lunch for small group conversations that dive into family stories behind the dishes, cultural traditions around food preparation, symbolic meanings of certain ingredients, and more.

Consider concluding with a collaborative cooking activity that blends cuisines from different team members to create new fusion dishes, symbolic of your blended workforce.

Identity Museum

Team members curate “exhibits” displaying personal items, photos, artwork, etc that represent important aspects of their identity they’d like to highlight – whether related to ethnicity, gender, family roles, personal achievements, cultural practices, etc.

Have participants present at their museum stations while peers circulate to engage with stories behind the exhibits and ask insightful questions to go deeper on interests and experiences.

Privilege Beads

The facilitator distributes bags with different bead counts to participants, representing varied levels of privilege and ease of access in society based on factors like gender, ethnicity, family structure, etc.

Team member pairs then discuss their reactions to the activity experience and explore times in their lives when they became more aware of the advantages or barriers tied to aspects of their backgrounds.

Cultural Role Play

Break team members into small groups and develop scenarios dealing with workplace issues around discrimination, unconscious bias against aspects of identity, lack of sensitivity related to traditions, etc.

Have sub-teams role play the situations in front of the large group, taking turns assuming different stakeholder perspectives.

Conclude with a group discussion about insights on how to engage in these challenging situations to build understanding.

Human Library

In this activity, volunteers share intimate stories serving as “Human Books” focused on experiences tied to important aspects of their identity – whether related to race, sexual orientation, disability status, etc.

Small groups of peer “readers” listen deeply to the stories, ask thoughtful follow-up questions, and reflect together on key lessons learned regarding the danger of assumptions when it comes to groups outside our own experience.

Books and readers rotate within different sessions to maximize sharing a variety of perspectives.

Easy starting packages • Advanced options • Proven results

Build a Culture of Inclusion

While special team building activities provide dedicated time for inclusion, creating sustainable change requires consistently demonstrating these values day-to-day.

Here are impactful ways leaders and team members can integrate the spirit of DEI team building into regular interactions and operations:

Model Curiosity About Different Perspectives

Seeking first to understand diverse worldviews should become second nature.

Demonstrate curiosity through thoughtful questions and actively listening to responses without judgement.

Encourage Sharing Personal Context

Humanize each other by sharing personal anecdotes, background details, family facts, cultural traditions…anything that adds insight into personal forces shaping perspectives.

Spotlight Underrepresented Groups

When relevant, highlight the contributions of individuals and communities that are often marginalized.

Ensure all voices are represented within content, materials, examples, success stories, and thought leadership.

Allow Flexibility Around Traditions

Rather than insisting all employees participate uniformly, allow room for individuals to honor cultural or religious traditions in the ways most meaningful to them.

Accommodate menus, time off, dress codes etc.

Feature Multicultural Resources

Ensure calendars, menus, wellness programs, employee resource groups, etc. reflect and celebrate the diverse makeup of your organization year-round.

Address Exclusionary Language/Behavior

Gently call attention to and provide learning opportunities around language or actions that may marginalize groups of people, even if unintentionally.

Fostering inclusiveness, equity and belonging takes constant vigilance.

While structured activities provide eye-opening insight, daily conscious efforts to celebrate diversity ensure these lessons extend beyond sessions to create positive habitual change.

Live by an ethos of embracing humanity in all its colors, practices, customs and beliefs.

Make space for mishaps as learning opportunities while continually reorienting toward cultural sensitivity.

The reward is realizing our shared hopes and dreams far outweigh surface-level differences.

Destigmatize Difficult Conversations with DEI Discussions

Navigating conversations related to diversity, equity and inclusion can feel uncomfortable for many.

Difficult topics often lead to avoidance rather than discussion.

However, positive change happens through dialogue, even when messy or imperfect.

Structured small group DEI discussions within a team building environment allow for risk-taking conversations in a psychologically safe setting.

The goal is destigmatizing vulnerable sharing to build understanding.

Potential small group discussion topics:

  • Personal experiences around discrimination related to gender, ethnicity, disability status, appearance etc.
  • Privilege, disadvantage and access related to family background, education, geography etc.
  • Microaggressions participants have experienced or perpetrated (even inadvertently)
  • Stereotype assumptions that frequently impact the participant
  • Workplace interactions where cultural sensitivity was or wasn’t prioritized
  • Moments when inclusive language, materials or content would have been impactful

Guiding principles:

  • Listen earnestly with empathy
  • Share experiences and perspectives, not judgments
  • Remain aware of sensitive language
  • Keep confidences so others feel comfortable vulnerability
  • Balance talking and quiet reflection

While many DEI small group protocols exist, the common thread is providing space for teammates to share authentically, air grievances, and exchange cultural understanding.

These sessions plant seeds – if nurtured well – to bear the fruits of lasting inclusion.

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Foster an Inclusive Culture from Day 1 with DEI Onboarding

DEI should not be an afterthought when onboarding new hires.

Welcoming activities set the tone for an equitable, accessible and respectful work culture.

Onboarding presents the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are core company values, not just words on paper.

Here’s one impactful DEI focused onboarding idea:

Inclusive Ice Breakers

Skip generic ice breakers. Facilitate activities where sharing cultural backgrounds and life experiences helps coworkers find common ground.

  1. Discussion Stations prompt meaningful exchanges on identity, values and more in small groups.
  2. Storytelling Circles let people take turns talking about their names or heritages.
  3. Connections Bingo rewards learning fun facts about colleagues.

Move from Compliance Training to Cultural Competency

Required policy reviews check the legal box but don’t build inclusion skills. Use onboarding to foster empathy about marginalized groups.

Explore topics like privilege, unconscious biases against minorities, microaggressions, barriers faced by people with disabilities, and being an active ally.

Equip new hires to recognize exclusion and intervene as upstanders.

Roleplaying uncomfortable scenarios prevents real-life blunders.

Auditing meetings and documents through an inclusion lens, like evaluating if certain groups are missing or portrayed negatively, reveals blindspots.Guide people in becoming more culturally responsive through ongoing self-analysis of their instincts and reactions.

Spotlight Employee Resource Groups

Many companies now offer Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability status and other affinity identities.

Have ERG representatives present at orientations.

Share the vision behind their groups and highlight initiatives they lead for company causes and community outreach.

Offer easy ways for new hires to get involved as members or event volunteers.

Visibly welcoming ERGs at onboardings shows they are an integral, respected part of your culture.

Custom Mentor Matching

Beyond explaining policies and procedures, provide social connections that ease assimilation for people from underrepresented groups.

Pair each new person with an established employee that shares some aspect of their identity or background.

Having cultural mirrors to confide in, beyond just job topics, prevents isolation.
Tailoring mentor selection considers personas.

An introverted programmer from a working class background would benefit more from bonding with a similar mentor than an extroverted sales leader.

Offer Inclusive Workspaces

Send new hires a survey about their needs before Day 1.

Use responses to personalize welcome packages with useful items.

Provide accessibility tools like noise-cancelling headphones, standing desks or large monitors.

Have preferred pronouns, all-gender restrooms and nursing rooms accessible.
Display cultural heritage month posters.

Recommend slant employee recognition around time off requests for religious observances.

Accommodating a spectrum of needs makes everyone feel accepted as their authentic selves.

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Celebrate Distinctive Additions

Companies release flashy press announcements when they poach talent from coveted competitors.

Make internal announcements equally bold to express excitement for newly onboarded staff from all backgrounds.

At their kick off meetings, have executives vocalize genuine appreciation for the specific attributes, like unique problem-solving perspectives, that make them valuable additions.

Get specific when praising new hires’ cultural diversity too.

For example, proudly recognize when their fluency in multiple languages expands your global customer service capabilities.

The social nature of human beings means people likely will gravitate toward those deemed familiar.

An inclusive onboarding experience sets the precedence that connecting across differences is natural and celebrated.

Reinforce these values by continually finding new ways to promote equitable access, cultural sensitivity and belonging.

Promote Healthy Debate with DEI Perspective Exercises

Perspective plays a pivotal role in shaping attitudes and opinions.

Swapping lenses offers new angles that can profoundly influence views on polarizing topics.

DEI perspective exercises aim to build empathy, self-awareness and debate skills by having participants verbally explore multiple vantage points around controversial issues.


Select a debate topic relevant to current societal tensions around areas like immigration, gender norms, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights etc.

Activity Flow

  1. Share an opening statement on the debate topic from your own perspective, citing personal experiences that inform your position.
  2. Verbally argue the counter perspective citing experiences and rationale that caused others to land on this opposing view. Aim to authentically capture the heart behind conflicting opinions using a position’s actual logic.
  3. Finally, brainstorm solutions that could please both sides or at least soften extremes. This demands both logical and creative compromise while seeing everyone’s humanity.

A variation is breaking into small groups with someone assigned the role of observer taking notes about communication patterns, biases, assumptions etc.

These exercises build self-awareness around personal biases and increase comfort holding space for multiple worldviews.

The deepest wisdom lives in the gray areas between disparate paths.

Wrap Up

Implementing impactful DEI team building activities requires thoughtfully facilitating experiences that spark vulnerability, courageous sharing, and courageous listening between colleagues.

Aim to unite your team against common humanity-based values while celebrating wonderfully diverse paths for reaching them.

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