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Diversity & Inclusion - Multicultural Potluck

In today’s increasingly diverse world multicultural workplaces are a given rather than an exception to the rule. While there is strength to be found in diversity, it can also present its own unique challenges. One of these potential issues is the formation of company silos that further divisions, driving people apart. For workplaces that want to bring their employees together, nothing works better than the grand unifier of food.


Celebrate your workplace’s diversity with a multicultural potluck.

What is a Multicultural Potluck?
Potlucks are food-centred activities where every participant brings in food to share with other attendees. Multicultural potlucks add an element of variety and diversity as staff from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds bring in cuisine that is specific to their culture. The end goal is a rainbow-colored array of food items that employees can munch on and bond over. It gives staff a chance to sample different food items that they may have never previously seen while also allowing them to show off their own cultural backgrounds. This company potluck is more than just food and a good time, instead ultimately offering a chance for genuine sharing and connection.

How do Multicultural Potluck's improve employee engagement and culture?
Employee engagement is highly dependent on a variety of factors, one of which is the extent to which workers feel connected with their coworkers and colleagues. This social event is a great opportunity to foster this type of bond and can work even more so than regular events, given its unique ability to act as a showcase for a more genuine display of culture and heritage than may typically be displayed in the workplace. By creating an office environment of open-ness and authenticity, employees will be more likely to engage in the types of genuine relationships that drive engagement and make them eager to go to work every day. Diverse employees will also feel recognized and seen in the office.

What are the benefits?
Along with increased employee engagement, there is a chance for greater interdepartmental networking and improved social bonds. The potluck also encourages and celebrates diversity in the workplace, bringing the business advantages inherent to having a multitude of unique perspectives.

How do you conduct a Multicultural Potluck in the workplace?
A good multicultural potluck requires a lot of planning and preparation. Dishes should be assigned and tracked on a spreadsheet to ensure that the selection of food is varied and comprehensive. Miscellaneous preparations like utensils and dishes have to be considered as well. But the biggest key to conducting a potluck is ensuring that employees are interested and willing to contribute to the event. To do this the event has to be appropriately promoted across the office and should be tailored to the specifics of your organization.


Host a Multicultural Potluck

Get the permission of management. Talk to the relevant parties to ensure that a potluck can be hosted in the workplace.

Advertise the event at a specific time and place. Make sure it doesn’t overlap with other events and is at convenient time for most employees. While an email blast can be the fastest way to reach people consider printing out physical posters as well. A combination of print and digital communications can be more effective than either one alone. Make sure to invite staff from all departments.

Allow employees to dress in clothing that represents their heritage. Make it clear in the event invitation that this affair is focused on promoting diversity and encourage staff to dress up in traditional cultural garb. This can turn the potluck into a larger cultural day beyond just food.

Create a sign-up sheet. By creating categories like appetizer, desert, and main course you can ensure varied food items and a wide selection come the day of the event. Ask that attendees mark down any potential food allergies or restrictions and remind them to bring serving utensils if their food requires it.

Handle miscellaneous tasks. These tasks can be delegated to volunteers and include things like providing utensils and dishes, clearing room in the company fridge, and setting times for the kitchen to be used for food preparations.

Set up the potluck. Clear out a designated space for the dishes and make sure they are labelled per the previously collected dietary restrictions. Consider arranging the space in a way that facilitates more intermingling and socializing, whether by having limited seating, seats in a round formation or set seating that mixes together people from different departments. Make sure that there are large garbage cans scattered around for easy food disposal. If appropriate, set up speakers or a computer to play music.

Conduct the potluck. Chow down on the array of food items and enjoy your time with your colleagues. If a more formal structure is preferred, create a time for management to share personal anecdotes about their history and culture. Another option is to have attendees go around and talk about their dish’s significance and/or the process of preparing it.

Clean up. Involve everyone in the cleanup process to increase bonding and to get it over with more quickly. Leave space in kitchen for dishes to be cleaned.

Thank people for attending. A final message post-event adds resolution and leaves a lasting positive impression, hopefully leaving staff excited for the next potluck.

Updated on: 08/18/2023

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