Best Diversity Icebreakers to Try at Work

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The Purpose of Icebreakers

Many virtual teams are slowly returning to offices, and team members are getting used to interacting in real life again. However, many people with diverse backgrounds, multicultural identities or ethnicity, and various sexual orientations are looking for conversation starters to feel accepted. 

Organizations have a duty to bring their teams together, and one of the best team-building activities is the use of diversity icebreakers. Diversity icebreakers bring benefits like stronger cooperation, clearer communication, and improved team relationships. In this article, we will review some of the best diversity icebreakers and how to implement them in your next diversity training

A certified diversity coach can help facilitate engagement, transform culture, and snuff out unintentional biases to get the most from your diversity, equity, and inclusion teams. Partner with Coach Diversity Institute to find the right program for your working professionals and start crafting a diverse workforce today! 

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion Activities

Icebreaker games are a great way to start training sessions, but several long-standing activities actively exclude people of different backgrounds. Instead, celebrate your diverse workforce with inclusion activities that everyone can participate in and have everyone feel like a valued team member. 

Social interactions should be positive. Diversity activities allow people of different cultures an opportunity to share about themselves without the fear of exclusion. Any excluded individuals feel that during icebreakers, biases will likely translate into real-life. This is helpful for bringing awareness, and facilitators should focus on the benefits of improved problem-solving, listening skills, and cooperation. 

Fun Diversity Icebreakers for Team Building

Icebreakers can feel somewhat awkward, especially if you are in a new setting or environment. With tensions naturally a bit higher, setting the group’s mindset is essential. These fun diversity icebreakers are a great way to ease nervous emotions and get your team thinking about cooperation. 

First Impressions

First impressions are not always a good representation of a person, and the activity “First Impressions” looks to highlight that issue. This activity should take about 15 minutes but could be longer with larger groups. You’ll need note cards or post-its and either pens, pencils, or markers.

Once everyone has materials, have everyone arrange into a circle. Participants will then write an interesting fact about themselves, history, or background that most people don’t know. Then, everyone folds their card and places it in the middle. The group leader opens the cards and reads them one at a time. The group then guesses, and the writer reveals themselves. 

Upon completing the activity, you can debrief your group about why we associate certain traits with certain people. 

Getting to Know You

Getting to know you is another excellent activity for introductions. You’ll need about 15 minutes for this activity, and depending on your group size, you’ll want to make smaller groups of about four to ten participants. Make sure you have enough flip charts and markers for each group. 

Explain that each group needs to draw a large flower with a center and equal petals to the number of group members. The group then must discuss what everyone has in common and label it in the center. Each participant then fills in a petal with a trait that is unlike the other group members. 

Once each group has their flower, ask everyone to share. This sharing process is an excellent opportunity to discuss similarities and differences. Follow-up by asking if it was difficult to find similarities. Also, highlight finding the value in similarities and differences between individuals. 

I am…

If you plan to use the “I am…” icebreaker, be sure to print enough copies of the handout template for everyone in attendance. You’ll need at least 15 minutes for the “I am…” activity, but if you have a larger group or group sentiment that isn’t engaged, you can modify the time dedicated to the activity. 

Pass out the handout to everyone in the group. Have each participant fill in their name in the large center bubble. With the remaining bubbles, the participants write a descriptive word or words they use to describe themselves. Ask for volunteers to share what they wrote in each bubble. Ask the team if they notice any similarities or differences. Even further, ask if anyone identified with anyone else and how they connect with that person. 

It’s a Lie!

The “It’s a Lie!” activity goes by many names, including “Two Truths and a Lie,” but the concept remains the same. It’s a great way to show that many people have different definitions of the same word or phrase. You can also use this activity for groups of all sizes. 

Start by having participants share three statements about themselves—but one is a lie. The goal is for the rest of the group to figure out which statement was the lie. They can ask questions, but that opens up the possibility for more lies. Once the participants snuff out all the lies, ask if anyone was surprised by any truths. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss the implications of first impressions. 

Trash Your Ego

The “Trash Your Ego” activity demonstrates the idea of letting go of self. It’ll take about 15 to 20 minutes, and you’ll only need a standard piece of paper with a pen. There’s no limit on the group size, so even the largest groups will have time to participate. 

Instruct each participant to draw a giant capital “I” on the paper. Then, have everyone decorate the paper. Spend time personalizing the letter, get creative, or even supply some crayons, markers, or colored pencils for extra creativity. Once everyone has a decorated “I,” have everyone arrange into a circle around a trash can.

Now for the fun part. Have every participant shred their “I” into many small pieces and toss them into the trash. The idea is to have the personalized “I” pages represent the individual ego, and throwing it away is an act of setting the ego aside. 

Promote Diversity and Inclusion with Coach Diversity Institute

Icebreakers don’t have to be boring, obligatory introduction activities. Games like “Circle the Circle” and “Marshmallow Tower” teach teams to engage meaningfully in problem-solving, listening skills, and acceptance. Plus, activities like “It’s a Lie!” teach team members to set aside personal biases and accept that we all have similarities. 

Your team members will feel validated when included in fun diversity icebreakers. You can make a difference in your organization by enrolling in one of Coach Diversity Institute’s training programs. You’ll learn how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, handle microaggressions, and improve the social interactions of everyone in the organization. Connect with Coach Diversity Institute today and discover how you can make a difference!