The Importance of Belonging Alongside Diversity and Inclusion
And why many companies fall short by not focusing on all three
Diversity and Inclusion are always lumped together.
It’s always D&I, or maybe EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) that are being tossed around when it comes to making better workplaces.
And because of this, many companies seem to think they mean the same thing. There is a focus on the diversity aspect, on being able to recruit a wide range of people of different races, backgrounds, abilities, genders, etc. They will gather the statistics together, and boast about what percentage of their candidates were people of colour or how many people in their organisation are ‘BAME’ (an outdated acronym that should really be tossed out as soon as possible.)
But they won’t tell you how many of those candidates actually got the job, or how many that did actually stay within the organisation, let alone those that are able to rise in the ranks.
That’s because they were missing out on two essential ingredients of D&I: one being inclusivity, which is in the title itself, and the other being belonging.The distinction between these three concepts can be easily explained: diversity is being invited, inclusivity is being told that you should be there, and belonging is actually feeling that you do.
This is one of the key things that we found through our This is Black Gen Z Research Report in July of this year. While companies were said to be making efforts towards inclusion, only 31% of black gen z actually felt comfortable enough to be their authentic selves in their workplace. At the end of the day, this comes to a lack of feeling that they belong.
So what is the biggest difference between you as an employer encouraging inclusivity and your employees actually feeling it?
Simply put, belonging comes down to authenticity
You can make all the efforts for inclusion, but if they are not genuine, it is unlikely that your employees will feel that sense of belonging in their workplace. It comes down to you recognising that each of your employees is an individual, and you actually making the effort to talk to them, discover what their needs are, and do your best as an employer to meet those needs. No one wants to be ignored, but at the same time no one wants to be made a token either.
While this is simplifying the process, that is all it is at the end of the day. By doing this, you lead by example. Team values and culture always bleed through from the top. And if you are showing as an employer that you value each of your employees, that you respect their individuality no matter their background, and that you are willing to work with them to create the best working environment - the rest of your team would follow suit.
The most important thing to remember is that diversity, inclusion and belonging are not interchangeable and achieving one does not mean that you have done your job.
Achieving inclusive and welcoming workspaces where everyone in your team feels that they belong and can thrive should be a constant process. It is about listening to your employees, respecting them as individuals and consistently looking for ways to improve their experience at your company.
Once you accept that, and spend time trying to make that happen in earnest, you wil have achieved the first and arguably the most important step.
For a more indepth look at fostering inclusivity in your workplace, why not get in contact with us?