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.
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!
Help us Learn More
Those of us who work in the DEIB space are keenly aware that it is constantly evolving as we all learn and grow together. To learn more about how organizations can foster a sense of belonging, and what you can do yourself to increase your own sense of belonging, we’ve launched a new research survey.
Please add to our collective understanding of belonging by taking the survey now!
By participating, you will add your voice to the ever-evolving inclusive leadership conversation. You will also support our Institute’s mission of fostering gender parity and cultures of inclusion in the workplace.
Explore Additional Resources
We’ll publish the results soon. But in the meantime, to learn more about belonging, here are some additional resources:
- The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
- Fostering a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace: Enhancing Well-Being and a Positive and Coherent Sense of Self by Lee Waller
- Are Your D&I Efforts Helping Employees Feel Like They Belong? by Michael Slepian
- Why Does Belonging Matter at Work? By Steven Huang
- Belonging: From comfort to connection to contribution By Erica Volini, Jeff Schwartz, and David Mallon