50 Activities for Diversity Training

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The 50 activities in this resource book have been tested with hundreds of participants to ensure their appropriateness and effectiveness for a variety of diversity training needs. Employees at all levels will be stimulated by interactively learning about cultural and gender differences, and mastering new skills for communicating more effectively in our diverse workplaces. Each activity is ready to use and includes trainer's notes and all necessary handouts and overhead transparency masters. They each take between 15 and 45 minutes to complete. Activities Cover: Diversity icebreakers; Change; Communication; Conflict resolution; Gender at work; Culture and career transitions. Training Objectives: Illustrate how cultural differences may impact behavior; Increase awareness of the impact of culture in the workplace; Demonstrate skills for managing a culturally diverse work force; Address issues of gender in the workplace. Training Methods: Icebreakers; Participative exercises; Role-plays; Mini case studies

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Name That Feeling

PDF

1

Name That Feeling

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to help participants begin to focus on what it’s like to feel different.

Time

15 minutes

Materials

Flipchart and marker

Procedure

1. Ask participants to think of a time when they felt different from everyone else. For example, walking into a meeting and being the only person of one race, or the only female or the only person who spoke English.

2. Ask the participants to think of the ONE WORD that best describes how they felt at that time.

3. Instruct participants to walk around the room, introducing themselves to other participants by using, instead of their names, the

ONE word they thought of that best expressed their feelings. (Give personal examples: “I once was the only hearing person in a roomful of people using sign language. I felt ‘ISOLATED’.” As the person shakes hands, his/her introduction is: “Hello, I’m ‘ISOLATED’.”)

4. After most participants have met each other, ask them to return to their seats and discuss their experiences. As the participants describe the words they used for their introduction, write the words on the flipchart. Use the following questions as guides to the discussion:

 

Diversity Letter Game

PDF

2

Diversity Letter Game

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to have participants define for themselves the meaning of diversity.

Time

10 minutes

Materials

Flipchart and marker

Paper

Procedure

1. Show the participants the previously-prepared flipchart and explain that the group’s task will be to come up with what they feel makes up diversity.

2. Group participants in pairs and ask them to think of as many words as possible for each letter, helping clarify the term “Diversity,” and write them down. Tell them they have 3 minutes to complete this assignment.

3. After 3 minutes call “Stop,” and ask each pair to orally report the words they chose for each letter.

4. Reconvene the group and have the participants call out their words.

Record the responses on the flipchart and compare.

Conclusion

Summarize by pointing out the variety of words that the participants used to define diversity. Explain that diversity is much broader than race and gender and that the challenge is to learn how diversity impacts everyone, everywhere.

 

Who Do You Know?

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3

Who Do You Know?

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to begin exploring what participants know about people from differing groups.

Time

15 minutes

Materials

Papers and pencils

Flipchart and marker

Procedure

1. On the flipchart list these four categories: “Author,” “Artist,”

“Musician,” “Politician.” Prepare the flipchart in advance of the session.

2. Ask participants to quickly write down on their own paper five persons (living or dead) that they are familiar with for each category.

Allow 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Then ask the participants to place an asterisk next to those names of the five in each category who represent someone from their own ethnic and racial group, or country they were born in.

4. Place the participants into small groups and ask them to compare their lists, the names they wrote and the number of people they starred. Ask them to discuss whether race, ethnicity or country of origin played a role in their choices. If so, why? If not, why not?

5. Reconvene and ask them to orally report the results of their discussions.

 

Time Marches On

PDF

4

Time Marches On

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to help participants understand how one’s values change over time.

Time

15-20 minutes

Materials

Paper and pencils

Procedure

1. Explain to the group that this is a written reflective exercise. Ask the participants to think about themselves at the present time and have them answer the question, “What are my present beliefs, attitudes and values about people of other races or ethnic groups?” Then have them take a few minutes to write what comes to mind.

2. Next, have them think about themselves 10 years ago. Have them answer the question, “What were my beliefs, attitudes and values about people of other races or ethnic groups?” Then have them take a few minutes to write what comes to mind.

3. Ask them to think about and compare their answers about the present time with their past attitudes, and discuss what similarities they sensed and what changes occurred.

4. Place the participants into small groups and have them discuss among themselves the responses to the first two questions.

 

Back to the Future

PDF

 

Into the Future

PDF

6

Into the Future

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to give the participants the opportunity to think about themselves as being old and share their thoughts with other participants.

Time

15-20 minutes

Materials

Crayons or colored pencils

Paper

Flipchart and marker

Procedure

1. Ask the participants to draw a future picture of themselves as they think of what they will be like and what they may be doing when they are over the age of 70.

2. Divide participants into groups of four or five and ask them to share their drawings. Ask them to discuss what their expectations of the future were based on. They can then discuss the similarities and differences of the sources of their expectations, with particular attention to how they think they will be treated by younger people.

3. Reconvene and have them orally report on their discussions. Ask them to call out the various ways that older people are often treated, and record the responses on the flipchart.

Conclusion

Today, people live longer than ever before. Indeed, this generation is the first one able to look ahead, picture themselves as they might be, and perhaps make a difference.

 

Cultural Hat Dance

PDF

 

Take Your Pick —Learning Styles

PDF

8

Take Your Pick —

Learning Styles

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to help participants understand that there are differences in learning styles and to identify their own learning style.

Time

10 minutes

Materials

Pen

Book

Audio cassette and video cassette

Procedure

1. Place the following four objects on the desk: pen, book, audio cassette and video cassette.

2. Ask participants to choose for themselves the object that is most interesting to them.

3. Group participants in pairs and ask them to share their responses and discuss why they made that choice.

4. Reconvene and ask the following questions.

Why did you choose the object you did?

Did you realize (or discuss) that each object represented a different learning style?

In your discussion with your partner, what did you find out about that person?

How did you feel sharing this type of personal information? Did you discover more about your own learning style?

What are the benefits of knowing more about the learning styles of people you are dealing with?

 

Political Savvy

PDF

9

Political Savvy

Objective

The purpose of this acitivity is to enable participants to determine the most effective qualities for leadership for multicultural groups

Time

15-20 minutes

Materials

Flipchart and markers

Procedure

1. Group participants in pairs and explain that one of the two will be running for the President of a county-wide Council for Equality, a position that requires effective leadership of diverse groups and an understanding of a multicultural community. The other person will be the campaign manager. Ask each pair to decide who will take on which role.

2. It will be the task of the campaign manager to introduce the candidate, promote that individual for President of the Council for

Equality, and try to get the candidate elected.

3. Ask each pair to discuss the characteristics or qualities they believe are needed to win the election. Together, they can plan the introduction, and a strategy that would be most helpful in winning the election.

4. Reconvene and ask each of the campaign managers to make a pitch for his or her candidate.

 

Head in the Clouds,Nose to the Grindstone

PDF

50 Activities for Diversity Training

3. Divide participants into small groups and have them compare the phrases they wrote. Ask them to think about and discuss the amount of slang they use in everyday conversation and where some of these expressions came from. They can also share any experiences they have had either not understanding slang or not being understood when they used it.

4. Reconvene and ask participants to orally report on the category that had the most slang phrases. Record the number on the prepared flipchart that lists the categories.

5. Ask the group to call out some of the most commonly used expressions as well as those they felt were the most difficult for someone who did not grow up speaking English. (You may want to add these to the flipchart.)

6. Open the discussion to the possible problems using too much slang and gather some ideas about what people can do to help a non-native speaker.

Conclusion

Summarize with the fact that it is difficult to realize how much slang

Americans use. Point out that the use of slang can be a serious barrier to good communication in general. In fact, often any listener may not have the same slang vocabulary that the speaker has and consequently will not fully understand.

 

Introductions

PDF

 

Understanding the Impact of Culture on Work

PDF

12

Understanding the Impact of Culture on Work

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to define culture and to look at what aspects of culture affect people at work.

Time

20 minutes

Materials

Flipchart and marker

Sample Lecture, “What Culture Means”

Overhead transparency (OHT) 12.1 and overhead projector

Procedure

1. Ask participants to suggest words that describe “Culture.” Some examples are physical features, dress, language, food, attitudes and values.

2. Record the responses in the flipchart and offer a definition of culture as used in the Sample Lecture (or use any source you prefer).

3. Present the Sample Lecture (or make up one of your own) and follow it by displaying OHT 12.1. (The transparency may also be distributed as a handout.)

4. Divide participants into small groups and ask them to discuss their own cultural background. Have the group talk about any situations that they have either experienced personally or know of, resulting from cultural differences. (See Trainer’s Notes.)

5. Reconvene and have the groups summarize and report on their discussions.

 

Ups And Downs

PDF

13

Ups And Downs

Objective

The purpose of this exercise is to enable participants to acknowledge that people belong to many groups simultaneously.

Time

10-15 minutes

Materials

None

Procedure

1. Call out the name of a group (see examples below) and ask those participants who identify with that group to stand. The rest of the participants will remain seated and applaud and the people standing will then sit.

2. Repeat the process, using the names of different groups. You may use group identities such as “women,” “African-Americans over 30,”

“white men,” “women under 5 feet 2 inches,” “snorers,” “nail biters,”

“smokers,” “parents,” “people who like to fish,” and “people who work with computers,” etc.

Conclusion

This activity, which is fun to do and high spirited, points out that differences come in many forms, that one group is not better than another, and that it’s OK to be a part of many different groups. It also illustrates the positive aspects of acknowledging and appreciating diversity.

It is interesting to note that this exercise came from the Irish Quakers working on identity and conflict resolution in Ireland and illustrates that there are differences everywhere.

 

Personal Influences

PDF

 

The Way It Is:The Real Issues

PDF

 

What Is Culture?The Iceberg Theory

PDF

16

What Is Culture?

The Iceberg Theory

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to help participants understand what

“culture” is and to review the components that make up culture and recognize that each person has his/her own culture. The activity will also help participants identify the stages of intercultural learning and determine the participants’ current stages.

Time

15-20 minutes

Materials

Overhead projector

Flipchart paper and markers

Flipchart page prepared with an outline drawing of an iceberg

Overhead transparency (OHT) 16.1

Procedure

1. Put participants in pairs and ask them to think of three or four words that illustrate evidence of “culture.”

2. Ask participants to list their responses on a flipchart that has an outline drawing of an iceberg, placing the words in order of the most visible characteristics of culture at the top, and the least visible at the bottom. (See Trainer’s Notes.)

Conclusion

1. Explain that all people begin with Ethnocentricity (believing that their way is the only way) and move through the various stages on the way to Multiculturation.

 

Cultural Baggage

PDF

17

Cultural Baggage

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to help participants understand that the term “cultural baggage” refers to those concepts, ideas, and attitudes carried from childhood that still have great influence on us. Exploring

“baggage” through proverbs, sayings, symbols, etc. will lead to recognizing its limiting effect when dealing with people with different values.

Time

10-20 minutes

Materials

Cards with familiar proverbs or sayings, or physical symbols representing mainstream American values

Flipchart

Procedure

1. Present a brief lecture and demonstration of mainstream American values, and contrasting values. (Use symbols, sayings or whatever your imagination dictates.)

A few examples are listed below: a. Privacy - “A man’s home is his castle” vs. “Mi Casa, Su Casa” representing certain other cultures. b. Self-determination - “God helps those who help themselves” vs.

“God willing”; that is, fatalism is a strong value in many other cultures c. Assertiveness - “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” vs. “The duck that quacks the loudest...gets shot,” a saying used in several Asian countries.

 

First Thoughts

PDF

18

First Thoughts

Objective

The purpose of this activity is to have participants examine the stereotypes of the groups of people with whom they interact. They should recognize that stereotyping is unfair, and becomes a barrier to good communication and accepting people as individuals.

Time

40-60 minutes

Materials

Overhead projector

Overhead transparencies (OHTs) 18.1 and 18.2

Procedure

1. Display OHT 18.1 and ask participants to write the first two or three adjectives that come to their minds for each of the groups listed on the transparency.

2. Put the participants into groups of three and give them a few minutes to discuss their reactions to the exercise and to stereotyping in general. (Here they can discuss the words used in each category, the categories that were easy and difficult and the reasons why).

Example: Many participants have, in the past, said “white” or

“disabled” were hardest to comment on. Some have difficulty with other words.

3. Discuss other stereotyped groups to which participants may belong: blondes, farmboys, intelligent, athletic, etc.

 

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