Do your employees feel like they belong?
When we talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we sometimes miss out on the concept of Belonging. For the sake of establishing a shared language, these terms are defined as:
Diversity: A fact. The presence of difference.
Equity: A structure. The norms, fundamentals, and/or policies in place that ensure everyone has accesses to the same opportunities.
Inclusion: A behavior. How people mix and intentionally engage.
Belonging: An outcome. The feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity.
We’ve worked with many companies to implement DEI strategies and provide DEI learning solutions like group sessions and one on one coaching. The conversations tend to start out pretty similarly: “We know we need DEI, but we’re not sure where to begin.” Most people don’t know where to begin because they don’t fully understand what they’re trying to accomplish. It’s so important to set a vision for your strategy, otherwise you risk investing in the wrong solutions that quickly wither and fade – making it even more difficult to engage employees for the long term work that we all need to do.
Powerful DEI strategies focus on the outcome of Belonging. They focus on creating a work environment where every single employee feels like they have a meaningful place in the company from a social, financial, and leadership perspective. When employees have that sense of belonging, companies see things like increased accountability, ownership, innovation, and engagement – which all lead to improved outcomes for the organization.
Build behaviors first. Intentionally include the experience and perspectives of others when rolling out company strategies – start small if you need to. If you’re planning a gathering, consider holding it during work hours so working parents can get home to their children at their regular time without needing to shell out additional childcare costs. Provide food options for all dietary restrictions. Don’t make alcohol the main focus of the event, creating an inclusive environment for those who don’t drink. These are basic and absolute bare minimum practices, but the idea is to consciously include all experiences and perspectives in your strategy, regardless of whether they’re the same as yours. The important part is training your brain to include other perspectives, and to train your voice to advocate for others when making decisions. If you can start here, then you can apply that same inclusive mindset and loud voice to the things that really matter like pay equity, leadership representation, well-being, policy creation, etc.
If you’d like to learn more about setting the vision for your DEI strategy, getting buy-in, driving engagement, and making meaningful long term change, GoCoach is a great resource for you. Lisa Whealon has joined our team as our VP of Sales (you can check out the press release here), and her experience as a former CHRO partnering with company leadership and DEI leaders makes her a helpful asset to anyone looking to learn more and gain support for their strategy.
Written by Rebecca Taylor, our Co-Founder and COO.