Cultural barriers such as language barriers at times obstruct the relationship of colleagues in the workplace. However, commonalities present in every workgroup can be pointed out by use of various workplace activities. These will help the company and employees benefit from diversity in the workplace.
Diversity activities not only help respect and understand people’s differences. They also act as an effective way in harmonizing employees in the workplace. Employers need to ensure that they have a proper system in place to stop any kind of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. A diverse workforce is hugely beneficial to the company’s success.
Change Agents for multicultural teams
Having change agents in your workgroups can help celebrate diversity in the workplace. The change agent is responsible to point out problems but also things that already work well in their diverse teams. They are acting as a role model and coach for other team members. For once, they share how they benefit most from diverse cultural teams in the workplace. Another task is for example airing concern when they hear an unpleasant joke or comment. Moreover, they encourage others to act as change agents. This boosts positively on how workers view each other in the workplace.
Activities to encourage diversity
Celebrating diversity in the workplace can also be done by inviting participants to share their stories.
A good topic for this is talking about their family and what makes them exclusive. This includes sharing some of the challenges they face and the strength they have as a family.
There are many definitions of the word family in regards to culture, history and the modern society which includes: singles, traditional male-female couples, GLBT partners, adoption, multigenerational families, mixed race and others. Therefore it can help to create a display wall for employees to show a photo and a brief description of their family as a way to diversify the workplace.
Drawing your life line
Talking about different life lines of employees is also of help in celebrating the diversity in the workplace. This can be done by letting individuals create their own timeline on a piece of paper. For this, draw a long straight line and label the right end of the line ‘today’ and the left end ‘birth’. The task for the colleagues is to think about challenges in regard to diversity they have faced. They then have to mark these events on the timeline they have drawn.
Use questions to generate ideas like: Have you learned another language? Ever worked with someone of a different culture? Have your traveled far from home? Ever encountered an incident you believe could have been related to prejudice or bias? When was the first time you encountered someone of a different race?
After the questions have been collected, pair the participants with someone of different background. This way they can talk about what they have learned about each other after hearing about their challenges and experiences. Together, they can discuss how these different experiences impact their personal view on diversity.
Collect experiences in a mindmap
Another activity to enhance diverse relationships is to create a mindmap on a whiteboard or a corkboard. The main topic is how employees with diverse background perceive their workplace. You can start by asking one individual to point something out that makes them exclusive. Afterwards, others will be looking for connections to their own lives. They can make an addition to the items previously written on the board.
Then encourage participants to ask as many questions as possible to the person who has drawn a connection to their item. This way colleagues will learn more about each other and improve their relationships.
Invite speakers on cultural diversity
To celebrate good relationship amongst employees, an employer can provide cultural speakers on any topic in regard to a certain culture: heroes, popular games for kids, famous people, food and historical events.
These speakers can be found by asking for names from native employees, searching on the internet or contacting local cultural groups.
Of course for this speaches, you need to make sure that the speaker supports the message of appreciating diversity and building connections. Have a follow-up group conversation with your employees and let them share one thing they learned. Additionally, discuss how it may be different or similar to something they have experienced themselves.
In summary, creative exercises and team building activities can get ideas flowing. They ensure that people from different native backgrounds work better with one another. Encourage them to learn from each other, embrace each other’s differences and hence build a stronger workforce