Part 5 of the Navigating DEI in the Workplace Series
Are you still with me? The blog you are reading is part five of my twelve-part series, Navigating DEI in the Workplace. Please go back and read the rest of the series if you need to catch up.
Are you still lost in how to effectively approach diversity, equity, inclusion, and–let’s not forget–belonging in the workplace? Respecting boundaries that help define relationships and expectations can help you find and stay on the right path.
Consider if you were lost in the woods, trying to find our way home. There are natural boundaries in place that can help guide you through different regions of the Earth. Natural boundaries can be mountains, rivers, oceans, cliffs, or valleys. They create helpful separation, maintaining a sense of predictability and order in our world. Paying attention to the natural boundaries of the surrounding landscape would keep you from walking off a cliff or drowning in a deep ocean.
The same is true when you’re trying to find your way through transforming organizations and creating a culture of inclusion. Understanding and respecting boundaries bring order and predictability. In his poem, Mending Wall, Robert Frost writes, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Having boundaries and acknowledging them is a good thing. Boundaries help us to define relationships and expectations. Respecting boundaries and creating a sense of belonging provide safety and security when transforming organizations and creating a culture of inclusion.
A respect for boundaries is built by increasing levels of cultural competency:
- “Cultural knowledge” means knowing about some cultural characteristics, history, values, beliefs, and behaviors of another ethnic or cultural group.
- “Cultural awareness” is the next stage of understanding other groups — being open to the idea of changing cultural attitudes.
- “Cultural sensitivity” is knowing that differences exist between cultures but not assigning values to the differences (better or worse, right or wrong).
Let’s use a slightly different definition for cultural competence as we think about boundaries: Cultural competence is the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities. Concisely, you have the policies and procedures in place to adapt to the needs or boundaries of diverse groups in a way that fosters a sense of belonging.
Best Practices: Inclusive leaders respect boundaries to foster inclusion and belonging in the workplace
Respecting Boundaries Fosters Belonging in the Workplace
Coqual, a global, nonprofit think tank and advisory group that was founded in 2004 to address bias and uncover barriers to advancement for underrepresented populations in the workplace, defined four key elements of belonging in their report The Power of Belonging. The elements of belonging as defined by Coqual are:
- Seen—When you are seen at work, you are recognized, rewarded, and respected by your colleagues.
- Connected—When you are connected at work, you have positive, authentic social interactions with peers, managers, and senior leaders.
- Supported—When you are supported at work, those around you give you what you need to get your work done and live a full life. These people may be peers and senior leaders.
- Proud—When you are proud of your work and your organization, you feel aligned with its purpose, vision, and values.
When we respect and learn about the cultural and identity boundaries/expectations of others, we foster a sense of belonging in the workplace. People feel seen, connected, supported, and proud. A strong sense of belonging on a workplace team will help open up dialogue and relations that will gradually and methodically illuminate your path forward with DEI.
Do you want to learn how to navigate DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) in the workplace? Learn about the boundaries of others and respect them.
In This Series
Part 1: Finding the Light
Part 2: Connect the Dots
Part 3: Learn to Read the Room
Part 4: Look at the Big Picture
Part 5: Pay Attention to Boundaries
Part 6: Practice Your Skills
Part 7: Pay Attention
Part 8: Celebrate the Small Things
Part 9: Take Risks and Up Your Game
Part 10: Get Lost in the Familiar
Part 11: Practice Emotional Control
Part 12: Learn How to Recover from Mistakes