How to Lessen Microaggressions in Virtual Diversity & Inclusion Activities for Remote Teams

Back to Blogs

Why Diversity and Inclusion Activities are Important for Remote Teams

Remote teams give businesses an advantage not present before. It’s a way to tap into talent pools swimming with qualified candidates ready to make a lasting impression on your organization. 

Although remote work has its advantages, there are plenty of drawbacks, too. The biggest struggle is bringing people together for team-building activities. That’s where diversity and inclusion activities come into play. 

DEI activities can unite teams while illuminating the microaggressions that could occur while supporting team engagement and development. Like in physical environments, virtual environments are no place for microaggressions, and there are several ways to address and mitigate the damage they cause during virtual interactions. 

Key Things to Keep in Mind During DEI Activities

An unhealthy work environment can be a breeding ground for microaggressions. Microaggressions are remarks, behaviors, and actions that are suggestive, indirect, or unconscious slights against people with different backgrounds. When hosting virtual team-building activities, creating a safe space is essential; some activities can be unintentionally non-inclusive. 

  • Some activities may be inappropriate – Potlucks and cuisines from different cultures might work well in the office, but it becomes much more complicated over Zoom. Instead, stick to virtual events, like book clubs, guest speakers, or trivia. 
  • DEI activities complement initiatives – DEI activities are not a replacement for fundamental policies. Instead, DEI activities are a fun way to engage in team bonding, introductory icebreakers, or reduce anxieties. 
  • Enforce inclusive language – Diversity team building can only happen when people feel safe. Enforce the use of gender-neutral pronouns, eliminate offensive language, and engage in coaching. 
  • Encourage participation – Remote work makes team building compliance more difficult to administrate, and the promise of fun activities can only go so far. Make team building activities a break from normal day-to-day activities and reward those who participate. 

How to Lessen Microaggressions During DEI Activities

Microaggressions have no place in diverse workforces. They cause damage to team unity, communication, and collaboration. They often create errors, cause misinformation, and are responsible for financial losses. DEI activities are a vital tool HR professionals and employee resource groups use to unite teams but left unchecked, biases can grow. Here’s how to combat microaggressions and maximize inclusive activities for remote teams. 

1. Train your team to be more aware of microaggressions.

Often microaggressions and biases are unintentional. Some who are guilty of implicit biases have good intentions, such as commenting that someone can speak well despite being from another ethnicity. 

These microaggressions disguised as compliments prove why cultural awareness is crucial for inclusive workplace environments. Luckily you have an ally in your corner who can provide comprehensive courses on mitigating microaggressions and forging an inclusive culture. Call CoachDiversity Institute today to get your team started with microaggressions training

2. Learn the right moment to intercede if you witness it.

As a leader, it’s essential to intercede when employees engage in harmful behavior, but you can do more damage if you pick the wrong time to say something. Consider the situation and analyze how you can create a safe space for a conversation to unfold. 

In some instances, spot-coaching is inappropriate, and you should talk privately with the offending individual. Other times, correction on the spot is impactful, especially if a small group can benefit from the interaction. 

Further, you should consider your familiarity with the person. Do you use nicknames, or is it the first interaction? Do you have some level of authority over this person, or are they your boss? Is the offending individual from another department with leaders sharing alternative viewpoints? All these questions are important to consider before interceding in an incident. 

3. Gauge your own familiarity with microaggressions.

Inclusive leaders know that, in some instances, they need more knowledge before speaking on a specific topic. It’s ok to consult experts, or better yet, a comprehensive executive leadership course from CoachDiversity Institute. 

Leaders must recognize the intent to speak up versus the impact speaking up has. Before making a commitment to say something, inclusive leaders reflect on the effects of what they say. They ask themselves if they have adequate authority to make a statement. 

When it is appropriate to give feedback, the best leaders position it in a positive manner. For example, they might say something like, “I am sure you meant…” rather than saying, “Don’t say that; it’s offensive.”

4. Ask for clarification if you used a microaggression.

We all make mistakes occasionally and get caught using non-inclusive or offensive language. During those moments, how we react says a lot about our place on inclusive teams. Take a step back from the situation and evaluate.

Ask for clarification. Instead of fostering sour feelings, giving employees a chance to pass on some knowledge can make a huge impact. When inclusive leaders use language such as, “Can you explain to me…”, employee engagement increases as individuals feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints. 

It’s not always easy, but once you receive an explanation, acknowledge the mistake and apologize, using language such as, “I am not going to repeat the mistake. I’m sorry.” Plus, it goes even further when you follow up after tough conversations!  

5. Listen to understand the perspective of others.

Remote team building can be challenging as video call delays or Slack chats can interrupt quality communication. Despite these challenges, it’s essential to seek to understand others, even asking for clarification when you don’t understand something. 

When listening to those around you, hear what they say without intending to respond. Thoughts of what to say next prevent comprehending the whole message. To avoid this issue, practice active listening and paraphrasing remarks to show you are active in the conversation. 

Finally, it’s crucial to maintain an open mind. The experiences of others shape how they react to various situations. Hearing and empathizing with them helps establish equal opportunities for everyone to engage in a safe working environment. 

Key Considerations for Leaders

As a leader, it’s vital that you set the standard for inclusive spaces during virtual team building. There are a few considerations to keep in mind to establish that standard. 

  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy – Ensure everyone, from breakout groups to large sessions, uses inclusive language and coach those who do not. 
  • Practice what you preach – A responsible leader will reflect on shortcomings and work to eliminate personal biases. 
  • Not an overnight process – The journey to becoming aware of microaggressions is a process that takes time to blossom effectively. 
  • Reward positive behaviors – A piece of paper with words about appreciation doesn’t mean anything. Treat team members who do well to lunch, an early afternoon off, or prime parking spots. 

Inclusive leaders can make the difference between safe, fun, and productive workplace culture and a toxic wasteland. Elevate your stewardship with executive leadership training from CoachDiversity Institute. We can help you hone your inclusive leadership skills so you can navigate the challenges of a diverse, digital workplace. Give us a call today to book your leadership training course! 

Promote Diversity in Your Remote Team with CoachDiversity

Hosting diversity activities for virtual teams can be a challenge. However, with some planning and action against microaggressions, you can pull off a successful event. Plus, when you take the extra time to hone your leadership abilities, you can really make a difference in the lives of your staff. 

The challenges of molding an inclusive environment can seem daunting. Don’t get overwhelmed; get a partner—get courses for your team through CoachDiversity Institute. Our expert staff can guide corporate teams to inclusive greatness with vast knowledge, skillful delivery, and bountiful resources. Enroll today and start making a difference for your virtual team!