5 Minute Read

What is the “B” in DEIB?

By Elisa van Dam
September 28, 2021
Diverse office working via Zoom


The B is for Belonging. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Belonging has been added to the current language around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to highlight the importance of how people feel when they are at work. It’s a recognition that Diversity (employing people with lots of different social identities), Equity (creating systems that provide equal access), and Inclusion (ensuring all voices are heard), while all critical, aren’t enough to maximize opportunities and outcomes for everyone.

Belonging vs Fitting In

At the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership, we define belonging as feeling uniquely seen, heard, and valued. As Brené Brown says in The Gifts of Imperfection, it’s the opposite of fitting in.

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

Brené Brown

For more on how to be who you are, see our latest report on authenticity in the workplace.

How do you Advocate for Belonging?

Here are some things you can do right now to create an environment where everyone feels uniquely seen, heard, and valued:

  • Develop supportive, empathetic and genuine relationships that help colleagues feel understood, known for all that they are, and appreciated  (see Waller below)
  • Foster psychological safety
  • Be intentional about who is included in meetings, collaboration opportunities, communications, and decision making

I’ll be talking about belonging in our upcoming webinar on Becoming an Ally and Upstander, which is the second in our three-part series, Inclusive Leadership in Action. I hope you will join us!

Explore Additional Resources

We’ll publish the results soon. But in the meantime, to learn more about belonging, here are some additional resources: