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At Joss Search we ran a team 'lunch & learn' session to open up the diversity conversation. To kick the session off we played some simple, interactive games which helped to highlight how D&I impacts all areas of life. The aim of the games was to encourage open conversations without fear of judgment or 'saying the wrong thing'.
It not only helped to open the conversation but it also helped to improve the teams understanding of the benefits of both demographic and cognitive diversity. It also helped us better communicate our D&I commitments, the Jossie Diversity Loop and our Diversity Charter. 

Below we will share the icebreaker games we played and recommend. These can be done virtually or in person. 

GAME 1) GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM

If you're playing this virtually -  everyone will need a piece of paper that says YES on it. If the questions below relates to them - they can lift up their sign saying yes. 

If you're playing in the office - everyone will need to be on one side of the room. If the question below relates to them - they can walk over to the other side of the room.

Ask some simple questions like the below and ask them raise to raise their 'yes' sign if... or walk across the room if..

You prefer summer to winter
You're an only child
You prefer cats to dogs
You've lived in another country 
You have a pet
You're competitive 
You have a strange/unusual phobia (If yes, ask people to share them - this creates an open and fun conversation) 
You were named after someone
You play an instrument 

and so on... you can use your values within this game. For example - 'you're competitive' - 'you're passionate about recruiting.'

This will demonstrate the diversity of interests within your team and also how the team, however different they are, share many of the same values.  These differences are integral for achieving cognitive diversity.

GAME 2) THE CIRCLE OF TRUST 

In this game, the team will need a piece of paper and a pen. They'll need to draw a line down the middle and on the left side write down 5 people that they trust.  This should not include family members. 

Once everyone has created their list, the facilitator will read out words often associated with diversity. As the facilitator reads through the list - the team will need to put a tick next to any of their trusted friend's names if the statement applies to both them and their friends.

For example:

Gender - (if the team member is female and so are 3 of their names written down - they place a tick next to those 3 people) 

Sexual Orientation  (if the team member is bisexual and so are 2 of their names written down - they place a tick next to those 2 people) 

and so on..

As you go through the list of categories, the team will continue to place ticks next to the names. 

Once this is completed, begin by asking your colleagues what they saw or noticed during the activity. Looking at their trust circle, what makes them trust in those friends in particular? Are they similar to their most trusted friends? Or are they fairly different?  

Remind them that this is an open discussion and they don't need to share their answers. 

This activity relates to bias and unconscious bias, but more specifically to affinity bias. Affinity bias, by definition, is a tendency or preference for people like ourselves. Studies show that, in general, people trust people who are similar to them. This preference for people like ourselves is largely instinctive and unconscious, hence the phrase unconscious bias. However, this is a reminder to think outside the box, especially when recruiting. Make sure you're not hiring clones of yourselves and instead broaden your outlook.

Together, we can make positive changes to build authentically diverse teams and work towards achieving true cognitive diversity.

Please get in touch with katie@josssearch.com if you'd like some more game suggestions or any other information on our D&I future plans.