Expectations for activities that foster an inclusive workplace are changing. So, what’s next?
Recognizing exclusionary practices in DEI training
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been a hot topic in work and educational settings since the mid-2010s—and for good reason! Recently, though, industry leaders in belonging and inclusion have been ditching traditional one-size-fits-all sensitivity and diversity training, instead opting to offer a variety of inclusive workplace activities.
Part of this shift has meant acknowledging how minoritized individuals experience DEI workshops, seminars, and training sessions. Being expected to play along or help explain something that is very obviously offensive further isolates minoritized individuals from their coworkers.
For example, group discussions designed to walk employees through determining whether or not something was a gender-based microaggression can put women and gender marginalized individuals in a difficult position.
“If I have to explain why it isn’t ok to call me ‘sweetie’ one more time, I will lose it.”
– just about every woman who knows about the Bechdel Test
Though well-intentioned, these activities reassert the same invisible power structures that make the training necessary in the first place. How? Gender-based discrimination and biases are statistically more likely to benefit men. Tackling these issues through role-playing means taking on their perspective, which again centers their feelings.
Mutual respect and genuine engagement are key to effective and inclusive workplace activities.
Education is key to mitigating biases and addressing prejudices. But if workshops and training sessions can risk reinforcing these problems then what can we do?
Of course, my first response is to ensure everyone “has a seat at the table;” but if you’re reading this, you probably know the struggles that come with that.
According to Moral Courage College (MCC), building trust, learning how to work through disagreements, and creating common ground help create a foundation for meaningful inclusion and belonging work.
Build relationships with trivia games.
MCC suggests book clubs and other knowledge-based activities are a good way to ensure workplace inclusion training includes everyone. Of course, we want to take it one step further: trivia and quiz games.
Besides, who doesn’t want an excuse to play trivia?
Playing trivia and quiz games encourages collaboration and fosters respect—for and among culturally diverse individuals.
Trivia games are inclusive workplace activities that create the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of cultures and histories that are not well-known among non-diverse groups. Our Private Events content team can structure questions to highlight the accomplishments of those who have been written out of history, inviting everyone to question how or why they might not know an answer.
Players’ personal knowledge of their heritage and life experiences means that some are more likely to know an answer than others. Both situations help foster mutual respect among coworkers, passively dispelling prejudices in a low-stakes environment.
Intentionally include everyone in your workplace activities.
Playing to players’ strengths shouldn’t end with what someone does or does not know. This is where the concept of “differentiated learning” comes into play. You or your coworkers might live with sensory processing disorders or differences, neurodiversity, a history of trauma, or other invisible challenges. Ensure everyone can have a good time by offering multiple options for engagement or the choice to opt out altogether.
The key here is “offering,” so that no one is put on the spot last-minute!
Not sure where to start? We suggest the following accommodation and accessibility measures:
- Have screens that can display our PowerPoint question sets so written and verbal communicators can be set up for success.
- Avoid policing behaviors. It’s easy for tics and stims to be interpreted as disengagement.
- Don’t set minimums for participation. This avoids shaming someone who might genuinely not know any answers.
In virtual games specifically, this can look like:
- Allowing participants to decide whether or not to play with their camera on.
- Making it clear that typing and speaking are both valid ways to participate.
- Turning on auto-captions or hiring someone to add CART captions.
Trivia games are one component of a more equitable workplace
When paired with clearly defined expectations—like not making assumptions about who should know what answer—trivia and quiz games are inclusive workplace activities that can avoid centering harm during DEI workshops and training sessions. Knowledge is fun, especially when it helps everyone feel respected and valued.