Why is belonging important in the workplace?
For many of us, work is our primary community. A sense of belonging to a greater community improves our motivation, health, and happiness. We spend more time in our workplace than we often do with our own families. “In a 2018 survey, Culture Amp and Paradigm measured employee experience across seven factors of diversity, belonging, and inclusion.” They found that belonging factors are most strongly and consistently correlated with employee engagement. Hannah Price of Cultural Amp writes, “the one single metric that consistently and universally tied to a person’s workplace commitment, motivation, and pride was a sense of belonging.”
Tips for Building an Inclusive Culture that Promotes Belonging
Here are six tips for building an inclusive corporate culture or an inclusive institutional culture that promotes a sense of belonging. These tips work whether you are in the private or public sector.
- Get the right people in the room. The composition of the planning group makes a difference in the successful execution of any attempt to create a culture of inclusion. Like biological cultures in yogurt or sourdough bread making, the right “starter” makes a difference. The first step in promoting workplace diversity and inclusion that supports a sense of belonging for employees is starting with a diverse and inclusive planning or leadership team. The planning group must represent the constituency. Questions to ask:
- Who is constructing the planning group? What does it look like demographically compared to organizational goals and demographics?
- Does the planning team represent the groups who will be invited to participate?
- Who is not invited to help with planning? Why is that?
- What assumptions about planning does the dominant culture have?
- What orientation is provided for (new) members of the planning group? Is someone assigned as a mentor for new members or attendees to help them get familiarized?
- Get specific. Communicate what success looks like for your institution or organization. I define culture as “the way we do things around here.” Only your organization can define what it means to have a culture of inclusion and belonging. Questions to ask:
- What are our goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion?
- Why are we doing this work?
- Are we committed to the work?
- What types of resources are available to our leaders and managers?
- How will we celebrate success?
- Get women involved. According to a 2016 study, A Meta-Analytical Integration of Over 40 Years of Research on Diversity Training Evaluation by Katerina Bezrukova, University at Buffalo, et al., the proportion of women in a training group was associated with more favorable reactions to diversity training. Other studies show that women, in general, are more receptive to workplace diversity and inclusion training.
- Get data. Metrics matter, so it is important to establish a baseline for your organization as well as tying measurable outcomes to your goals. Several tools can assess where individuals are on a mindset and personality level so that they and you are aware of their cultural capabilities and passions. Data empowers employees to take steps to increase their cultural competency where necessary. One of the tools that I use as a Qualified Administrator is the Intercultural Development Inventory.
The Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®) assesses intercultural competence—the capability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. Intercultural competence has been identified as a critical capability in a number of studies focusing on overseas effectiveness of international sojourners, international business adaptation and job performance, international student adjustment, international transfer of technology and information, international study abroad, and inter-ethnic relations within nations. The Intercultural Development Inventory is a 50-item questionnaire available online that can be completed in 15–20 minutes.
- Get to talking. To reinforce an inclusive culture, organizations must create spaces for dialogue, discussion, and disagreements. There must be spaces both for dialogue within individual teams and within the larger organization. If individuals feel comfortable in raising viewpoints, organizations are more likely to create better solutions and gain important insights about issues before they snowball into larger unwieldy problems. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are one tool for fostering dialogue.
ERGs are strategically aligned voluntary, employee-led groups that foster workplace diversity and inclusion while helping the organization work at its goals and objectives. ERGs help to facilitate collaboration and awareness within the organization, and they are excellent tools to create buy-in to new programs and develop new leaders.
- Get started. What is stopping you from getting started today? There is no time like the present to promote workplace diversity and belonging by creating a Culture of Inclusion in your corporation or institution. Contact the right expert and commit resources and time to the process.
Clients and audiences tend to hire Glen when they are experiencing one or more of the following:
- They don’t know how to get started.
- Current diversity programs have created resentment and polarization.
- Leaders are having difficulty managing the different generations in the workplace.
- Their previous diversity and inclusion speakers just didn’t get it.
- There is limited diversity in the leadership of the organization.
- They have just been through a crisis related to discrimination or another type of social injustice.
Don’t worry. Many organizations are in the same boat. Contact me and I’ll share the tools you need to jump-start your journey to be a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.