Look under your thumb and share! Use the Diversity and DEI Thumballs to playful explore serious topics.
We live in a diverse world. Some differences are visible, like skin color, gender, height or weight, physical challenges, and age. Others may not be visually apparent, but still affect how individuals feel or are treated: ethnicity, socio-economic position, sexual orientation, use or non-use of alcohol, allergies, intellect, depression, and other emotional diseases. Trainers Warehouse's Silver Series Thumballs focusing on DEI explore both personal connections to the topic and organizational initiatives.
VETTED BY EXPERTS
Every prompt in our Diversity and DEI Thumballs has been reviewed by seasoned diversity trainers, with the understanding that not everyone using these balls will be an expert facilitator in this topic. Each prompt was designed with the goal of enabling individuals to:
- Speak for themselves
- Think about their own identity
- Consider their own experiences in feeling like an outsider
- Explore the origins of their thoughts about diversity
- Consider ways they can show empathy and create a welcoming environment
Diversity Thumball, originally introduced by Trainers Warehouse in 2015, has gone through a few revisions since its inception. It tackles a difficult topic with smarts and sensitivity. Use the prompts to explore the topic of diversity by chatting about these topics:
- Sources of your attitudes towards people unlike yourself
- Experiences in which you felt like an outsider or shared an unpopular idea
- Important aspects of your identity that feel important
- Origins and experiences with prejudice
- Ways to combat discrimination and make others feel included
- Bias based on gender, disabilities, age, race, sexual identity...
The D-E-I Thumball has a bit of a different bent. We wanted to push a little further to enable team leaders, teachers, and managers to have safe and constructive conversations about identity, experiences with racism, community challenges, privilege and power. We wanted to expand the set of discussion prompts to promote greater tolerance and feelings of belonging. Ultimately, we decided there was "room" for two complementary diversity-focused Thumballs.
What's on the ball? Many people worry about saying the wrong thing during DEI conversations. As a result, these important conversations often don’t happen. Each prompt on this Thumball is phrased to promote positive conversation and shared understanding.
- Identity - share aspects of your identity that affect your life
- Experiences - discuss times you felt belonging, targeted, micro-aggression, etc.
- Our community - consider organizational initiatives to promote inclusion
- Us vs Them thinking - identify allies who are alike or different from yourself
- Privilege and Power - explore concepts of power dynamics, privilege, and oppression
- DEI Today - discuss current dynamics that influence people's participation in DEI efforts
Each Thumball™ is a soft 6" stuffed vinyl ball that looks like a cool soccer ball and has 31 panels pre-printed with questions suited for adults and teens. Safely toss it around in a group and ask participants to share their reaction to whatever prompt lies under their thumb.
- PHYSICALLY SAFE: 6" ball is safe to toss indoors
- 31 PROMPTS: With so much content, if someone wants to choose a favorite question... why not?
- EMOTIONALLY SAFE: Conversation prompts are vetted by industry experts.
- TIPS: The packaging includes facilitation notes to help ensure that the experience is positive for everyone. In addition to tips, ground rules, and what to do if situations get sticky, the DEI Thumball includes a glossary of common terminology.
WATCH THEM IN ACTION
View these videos to see how to use our Thumballs and have a conversation about Diversity and Inclusion:
FACILITATION TIP 1: EXPLAIN & SET GOALS
Introduce the activity by explaining: "We live in a diverse world. Some differences are visible, like skin color, gender, height or weight, physical challenges and age. Others may not be visually apparent, but still affect how individuals feel or are treated: ethnicity, socio-economic position, sexual orientation, addictions, abstinence, allergies, intellect, depression or other emotional disorders, etc. The goal is to understand each other better and start a dialogue."
FACILITATION TIP 2: SET GROUND RULES
Explain that conversations about diversity and bias can be emotionally charged. The goal is to share our experiences of feeling different or excluded and identify ways to create a more welcoming, diverse and compassionate community. So that everyone can feel safe, have the group set up their own Ground Rules. Here are some that you might want on the list:
- Only one person speaks at a time
- Speak only for yourself; use “I” statements
- No personal attacks – critique ideas, not people
- Agree to disagree; disagree without being disagreeable
- Listen – make sure everyone feels heard and validated
- Be positive and non-judgmental; open to new ideas
FACILITATION TIP 3: IF CONVERSATIONS GET STICKY
Expert diversity facilitators suggest these techniques to ease difficult or emotional situations:
- Pause the conversation so you can review the ground rules with the group.
- As the facilitator, share how an experience made you feel.
- Ask others how an experience made them feel.
- If two parties disagree, suggest that they switch roles and make the counter argument.
- Keep a flip chart of difficult topics that can be addressed later.
- Allow attendees to volunteer their participation as they feel comfortable.
- Ask others for input on how they have handled similar situations.
- Be ready to share some of your own personal stories.
- Take a break. Stop for awhile and regroup.
- Thank participants for sharing their personal stories.
NOTE: These balls are part of Trainers Warehouse's exclusive Silver Series Thumballs.