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Perspective: Why Belonging Matters in DEI

August 05, 2022 2:00 AM | Administrative Manager (Administrator)

By Eustacia A. English, NRWA DEI Columnist

What is belonging? Being a part of a group or place gives one the sense of security and support that comes with acceptance, inclusion, and identity. This is belonging.  It is the motivation to establish and maintain meaningful, long-lasting relationships with people.

These connections can be made with the organization you work for and its principles, as well as the actual work itself. Everyone wants to work in a place where they feel like they belong, and the first step in building an inclusive atmosphere is to educate ourselves and have discussions with others. To fully participate in the discussion about diversity, inclusion, and belonging, organizations should make an effort to understand the value of listening, understanding, and learning from others.

Most businesses actively aim toward having a diverse workforce, but many now try to ensure that all workers feel welcome at work. The essential element of inclusion is belonging. When workers feel fully included, they believe that the organization values them as people and allows them to be themselves. Employee well-being is enhanced, and ultimately, corporate performance is improved.

Fostering a sense of belonging offers leaders a valuable opportunity to reassess their goals and strategies for inclusion. “Do employees feel completely welcomed as members of the workplace?” is a question that leaders should consider.

If not, activities for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging need improvement. Greater on-the-job effort and good employee performance result from fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace. To create a sense of community, organizations should eliminate alienation, involve everyone, and show that they care through rewards and meaningful projects.

Let's talk about ways to foster a sense of community and accomplish DEI objectives:

  1. Eliminate the feeling of being an outsider in the workplace: Despite improvements in DEI, many employees still experience this feeling, which leads them to further repress the aspects of themselves that set them apart from their coworkers. When an employee feels unwelcomed, it’s psychologically upsetting. This detrimental experience interferes with their concentration and performance. There shouldn't be a "one size fits all" office. However, the majority are still "one size fits some" with the assumption that everyone else will get on board.
  2. Create a work environment where uniqueness is acknowledged and valued. Show consideration for each employee and offer many chances for check-ins. One is less likely to feel alienated at work if there is trust, understanding, and support.
  3. Bring everyone on board. According to research, employees may believe that their 

company isn't providing them with enough information about how to advance inclusiveness in their regular job. Make everyone accountable for attaining DEI goals on a daily basis to more effectively convey genuine support of belonging.

  • 4.      Encourage employees to value what each person can contribute. Show your team that you care about them, fight for their rights, and invest in their futures. Include employee feedback in organizational values to empower people and demonstrate their significance in creating an inclusive workplace.
  • 5.      Show that you care by offering perks. Offering advantages that apply to all demographic groups, such as flexible work hours and mental wellness programs, shows employees that you are concerned about their individual needs and expectations at work and outside of it. Such expressions of gratitude fuel a sense of belonging.

Although there is still much to learn about how belonging affects people at work, adding belonging into any diversity and inclusion strategy holds enormous promise. Exclusion usually happens accidentally if people don't make a conscious effort to be inclusive. Even unintended exclusion might damage employees’ feelings of community. It is up to all of us to ensure that we are cultivating a sense of inclusion and belonging as part of our diversity programs.

As always, I send you all my best wishes for continued peace, love, joy, and blessings.

Eustacia English writes the Perspectivecolumn, which examines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in resume writing and career strategy. She is a 20-year HR and talent acquisition veteran and started Resumes on Demand last year. She also writes on DEI for The Black in HR e-zine. She lives with her husband and two children in Cherry Hill, NJ. Find her online at LinkedIn.com/in/ecampbell05


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