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Creative Ways to Train Employees in Diversity

by Gina Scott

Some companies provide diversity training for their employees in order to enhance solidarity in the office. It also helps boost productivity by encouraging teamwork. Though diversity training acknowledges the differences between individual qualities, such as race and religion, it also emphasizes how humans are all alike. This emphasis helps a business grow because employees who get along are more productive. Diversity training is accomplished through various games and training techniques.

Take a Step

Instruct a group of employees to stand in a circle facing each other. One at a time, have each team member step into the circle, encouraging others to join them. For example, an employee would say, “Take a step forward with me if you ever feel outnumbered.” Start with more innocuous topics the first time around the circle to break the ice, such as what foods they like. After that, encourage employees to step forward, making statements that relate to diversity. Go around the circle a few times, and after the exercise, have everyone talk about their observations and reservations. Include observations about whether they were hesitant to step forward and how that relates to feeling self-conscious because of differences.

Name Game

Many people have stories behind their names. If it’s not a cultural origin, then they were named after their big brother’s girlfriend or a famous actress at the time. Whatever the reason, gathering your employees and having them explain the origins of their names is a simple way to acknowledge diversity. This activity is a fun exercise to point out differences among your employees while bonding them together over a laugh at the same time.

Cultural Quotes

Every culture has a set of quotes or proverbs that illustrates its beliefs. One example is the Spanish proverb, “Everyone is king in his own house.” Pair up sayings from other cultures with your region's main culture of origin. For example, pair this Spanish proverb with an American one such as, “A man is king of his castle.” Split a group of employees into twos and randomly hand out cards with pairs of proverbs like these printed on them. Instruct employees to find their partnered saying and when everyone is matched up, read the quotes out loud. Afterward, have a discussion about the similarities among cultures based on these quotes.

Common Perceptions

For this activity, hang large poster boards or sheets of paper on a wall. Write the labels of different groups on top, such as “Asian-Americans” or “Muslims” across the top and fold the board or paper down to cover it. Have the employees enter the room, split them into small groups and explain that you are going to have an activity about the judgments of different cultures. Reveal the groups and then have each section of employees gather around the boards and anonymously write down common perceptions about this culture. When all groups are finished, read the perceptions and discuss them as a group. This activity encourages people to expose false judgments about other cultures.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Gina Scott has been writing professionally since 2008. She has worked in real estate since 2004 and has expertise in pop culture and health-related topics. She has also self-published a book on how to overcome chronic health conditions. Scott holds a Master of Arts in higher-education administration from Ball State University.

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