DEI activity ideas

DEI activities can foster a healthy, productive workplace where employees feel valued. Of course, it’s important to choose activities that truly foster diversity, equity, and inclusion. The following explores qualities that make good activities and lists 18 fun and effective DEI activities to consider for your company. 



  • DEI activities offer benefits such as attracting and retaining top talent, greater profitability, and increased productivity
  • Choose DEI activities that prioritize wellness, are holistic in nature, and are tailored to your company and its unique employees
  • Fun and effective DEI activity ideas include:
1. Wellness Programs
2. DEI Training
3. Create a DEI Knowledge and Resource Center
4. Host a Speaker Series
5. Unconscious Bias Training
6. I Am, But I Am Not
7. Film Discussion
8. Disability Awareness Training
9. Diversity Flower
10. Culturally Inspired Meals
11. Start a Book Club
12. Inclusive Language Training
13. Volunteer Days
14. DEI Calendar
15. Diversity Appreciation Wall
16. DEI Quotes
17. Virtual Tours
18. Revisit Your Corporate Mission and Vision Statements

Benefits of DEI Activities

DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the goal of DEI is to foster healthy work environments where everyone feels accepted, heard, and valued. 

While many companies have adopted DEI initiatives, DEI activities are specific team-building sessions designed to introduce a diverse community to one another, take interest in each other’s cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and celebrate differences while working toward common goals. 

Research shows that many employees want their employers to implement DEI activities:

  • 56% of employees say focusing on DEI at work is a good thing (Pew Research)
  • 76% of employees and job seekers say diversity is important when considering job offers (LinkedIn)
  • 80% of employees want to work for companies that value DEI issues (LinkedIn)

DEI activities also influence business outcomes, as businesses with greater diversity outperform their peers:

  • Diverse companies have 2.5 times more cash flow per employee and inclusive teams are 35% more productive. Moreover, diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time (LinkedIn)
  • Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 36% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile (McKinsey & Company)
  • 20% of employees at companies that have DEI initiatives intend to stay for a long time (Catalyst)

Thus, the benefits of DEI activities include: 

  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Greater profitability
  • Increased productivity
  • Better decisions

“Study after study has illustrated that having a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion makes good business sense because it’s proven those organizations simply perform better,” says Rhonda Moret, Founder of Elevated Diversity, which helps companies embed DEI into their cultures. “Whether from a financial perspective, retention, innovation, creativity, and engagement, there are just so many elements that having a strong DEI program or approach supports.”

How to Choose DEI Activities

The benefits of DEI for employees and companies are clear. However, that doesn’t mean you should search the web and implement any and every activity idea you find. It’s important to choose diversity activities that resonate with your employees and promote understanding and compassion. 

Choosing good activities can prove challenging when DEI elements are new and unfamiliar to your company. Consider the intention behind your program and provide a measure of understanding and grace – if you don’t get it 100% right the first time around, use it as a teaching opportunity that helps your organization grow. 

“It goes back to leaning into inclusion. That’s what it’s all about, so no one feels excluded, and some activities may have an undesirable effect without intending it,” says Moret. 

Consider DEI activities that feature these qualities: 

1. Prioritize Wellness

Diversity and inclusion activities should prioritize wellness and make employees feel comfortable, confident, and accepted. Consider how participating in each activity would make you feel and understand that wellness should meet people where they are on their journey to health, no matter where that is.

“DEI ties back to mental wellbeing as well,” says Moret. “If employees are comfortable and confident in their roles, the benefits are numerous.”

2. Holistic

DEI isn’t limited to identity – race, ethnicity, religion, politics, etc. – it also encompasses mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, social wellness, and individual hobbies and interests.

DEI awareness

3. Tailored

No two DEI programs are identical, so DEI activities should be tailored to each company and its unique employees. 

“DEI at its very core is designed to connect people, not parse them into silos. It’s so different because each organization has its own DNA,” says Moret. “DEI doesn’t have to be standalone; it has to be woven throughout the organization and how that organization behaves.”

18 Fun and Effective DEI Activities for the Workplace

Consider the following DEI activities for your organization. 

1. Wellness Programs

Wellness programs foster DEI with individual and team-building activities: 

  • Diversity: Celebrate diversity as teams work together toward shared goals
  • Equity: Good wellness programs help all employees thrive
  • Inclusion: Wellness programs are inclusive regardless of identity or ability

Like other DEI initiatives, a well-structured wellness program can inspire a positive culture change. It’s no surprise, then, that many companies are adding wellness elements to their missions, visions, and policies. 

“Wellness programs fit in with DEI. It’s not a far leap from one to the other when you’re looking at it from the employee perspective,” says Moret. 

Wellness programs should incorporate variety and feature a diverse offering of rewards, educational topics, and resources so they’re relevant to every employee. For example, WellSteps offers modification options for all activities so that no matter one’s situation, they can participate and succeed. 

A wellness program can also be a vessel to provide DEI training, programs, and resources. Custom campaigns and rewards activities can be created, discussion boards can be included, and participation and engagement can be tracked in a wellness program. 

In addition, wellness programs come with built-in privacy protection, as they must comply with HIPAA, ADA, and other regulations to prevent disclosure of protected health information (PHI). This level of privacy enables employers to gather employee feedback in a discreet and aggregate form that offers a true representation of perspectives and feelings. 

The best wellness programs incorporate the six pillars of wellness, and each lends to DEI:

  • Physical Wellness: Physical wellness initiatives are inclusive for people of all abilities and encourage diversity
  • Mental and Emotional Wellness: Nurtures self-esteem, improves relationships, and cultivates a positive mindset
  • Nutritional Wellness: Programs can infuse cultural considerations with healthy dietary decisions. 
  • Occupational Wellness: Focuses on finding satisfaction and fulfillment in work. DEI initiatives reduce work-related stress and lead to greater job satisfaction
  • Financial Wellness: Varied income levels can unintentionally make employees feel superior or inferior – not equal. Gaining control of personal finances can lend a sense of equity at different income levels
  • Social Wellness: At the core of DEI, employees should feel a strong support network, engage in positive social interactions, and enjoy a sense of community and belonging

Ultimately, the goal of a wellness program is to encourage wellness for all. 

2. Provide DEI Training

Offer training programs that focus on developing a growth mindset, starting with your senior leaders, to ensure this group fully understands and embraces an inclusion-forward leadership style. Elevated Diversity recommends equipping employees with the tools and resources they need, tailored to nurture a culture of curiosity and inclusion. 

3. Create a DEI Knowledge and Resource Center

Develop a DEI knowledge and resource center that provides insightful resources and tools and inspires genuine curiosity about different cultures, backgrounds, and identities. 

4. Host a Speaker Series

Host a DEI presentation series that features speakers from different backgrounds and cultures. Elevated Diversity recommends setting “ground rules” before each session to create a safe and inclusive environment for open discussions, questions, and dialogue to enhance learning and understanding. 

5. Unconscious Bias Training

Unconscious bias training teaches employees to recognize and address hidden biases in the workplace. Be aware that unconscious bias training requires commitment to be effective, but with the right approach, it can reduce bias and prejudice, help employees feel included, and even improve performance reviews in just a few weeks (Harvard Business Review).

DEI activity discussions

6. I Am, But I Am Not

This group activity helps break down stereotypes in the workplace:

  • Have each person in the group create two columns on a sheet of paper
  • In the first column, they should write down something about who they are (for example, their ethnicity, gender, age, or where they’re from)
  • In the second column, they should write down something that defies stereotypes about who they are
    • Examples:
      • I am from Hawaii, but I don’t surf
      • I am a man, but I don’t like sports
      • I am a woman, but I’m not afraid of spiders
  • Next, go around the room and have each person read one of their statements, then discuss why it’s important to avoid stereotypes and truly get to know one another

7. Film Discussion

Watch a film, either as a group or independently, then discuss how the film portrays its characters. Good discussion questions can center around: 

  • Race and gender issues
  • Physical and mental disabilities
  • Religious representations
  • Cultural depictions
  • Stereotypes
  • How viewers felt watching the film
  • What the film got right and what it got wrong, and why

8. Disability Awareness Training

Disability awareness training helps company leadership and employees better understand the challenges faced by those with physical and developmental disabilities. That understanding can lead to a more inclusive workplace as businesses improve accessibility and provide the resources everyone needs to succeed.

9. Diversity Flower

This is another fun DEI activity that encourages healthy discussion:

  • Divide your employees into teams and have each team draw a flower with petals (on a piece of paper or whiteboard)
  • On each petal, have team members write something unique about themselves
  • Once the flowers are complete, have the teams exchange their flowers and discuss what makes the other team unique

10. Culturally Inspired Meals

Host a food festival, luncheon, or potluck in which employees share their favorite cultural dishes. This can be a great DEI icebreaking initiative as employees not only get to sample delicious foods they might not have tried before, but they can also discuss the traditions behind those foods and why they are meaningful to their peers. 

11. Start a Book Club

Start a book club featuring books that portray various people and cultures, then host discussions around those differences. Don’t limit discussions to plot points; rather, talk about how the books impact readers. How do they feel about what happened in the books and how characters were depicted and treated? Do they agree with the protagonists’ or antagonists’ actions? Why or why not? 

12. Inclusive Language Training

Inclusive language training helps leadership and employees become mindful of the words they use in their interactions. Some words and phrases have inherent (and often unintentional) bias, so inclusive language training teaches employees how to choose words that have a positive impact on their coworkers. 

13. Volunteer Days

Schedule volunteer days in which each employee chooses a cause and explains why it’s important to them. For example, one employee might pick a project to clean up their neighborhood, while another might opt for a bake sale that supports medical research.

dei activity-volunteering

Volunteer days not only help employees understand what’s important to their coworkers, they can grant first-hand experience that illustrates why those causes matter. Moreover, working together toward shared goals can lend a sense of solidarity between employees.

14. DEI Calendar

Create a DEI calendar filled with cultural holidays and even special personal dates (birthdays, work anniversaries, etc.). Make sure your calendar represents something about everyone in your workplace. 

Then, hold in-office celebrations to commemorate each holiday or personal date. You can theme the workday around a cultural holiday with food, music, and a small party, for example, and you can recognize employees on their special days. 

15. Diversity Appreciation Wall

Set up a bulletin or magnet board and encourage employees to post photos, artwork, statements, and related media that illustrates the pride they have in their cultures and personal identities. A diversity appreciation wall showcases and embraces diversity in the office, and it can serve as an excellent DEI icebreaker when employees ask one another about the interesting things they post on the board. 

16. DEI Quotes

Search for quotes that inspire diversity, equity, and inclusion, then post them throughout your workplace and include them in internal memos and emails. You can also post a DEI quote of the day in a prominent location to encourage acceptance and discussion. 

17. Virtual Tours

Ask employees to lead virtual tours that explore their cultural and ethnic backgrounds or their interests. You can find virtual tours online and take them as a group, and employees can share how the places on the tour impact their lives today. 

18. Revisit Your Corporate Mission and Vision Statements

Elevated Diversity recommends revisiting your mission and vision to ensure these statements are inclusive and support a culture of wellbeing.

Before you do, get feedback from employees across various functional areas, roles and responsibilities, and diversity dimensions. Ask them to review your statements and evaluate whether they’re aligned with your core values and represent commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Once you’ve revised your statements, distribute them throughout your company to affirm your commitment to DEI. 

At WellSteps, we understand how to design wellness programs that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Our wellness offerings are tailored to fit each company’s and individual’s unique needs and preferences, and modules can be modified so every individual can participate and succeed. Schedule a free demo to see how our program can form the foundation of your company’s DEI initiative.

About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.

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