In today’s ever-changing world, working toward achieving diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) within your organization is vital. If you believe that your business performance and bottom line are most important, then putting humans first, by creating spaces that foster true belonging, will evolve the capability of your organization to thrive through change in meaningful ways.
What does it take to have a workplace culture that fosters team cohesion and performance? Beyond having clear expectations and goals, aligning your people around your company’s Northstar and its values is an important touchstone to return to, time and time again. Another factor in building great teams that work together well is people having a genuine interest in one another and one another’s well-being—from knowing each other’s names, to looking one another in the eye when speaking, to supporting one another with empathy and authentic human connection —can make transformational change even when the actions seem so, so simple.
Communicating expectations, clarifying goals, and connecting with one another are all actions to take with human beings. As much as we focus on mechanics—how meetings are run, the OKRs of departments, the right CRM or performance management system to use—how human beings behave and interact with each other greatly informs the sense of flow within and healthy culture among workers. Bottom line: do you see people respecting, caring about, and wanting to support one another in getting work done that matters to them, their teams, and to the organization?
Recognize That People Are Driven to Belong
People are wired for connection and for the need to be seen, heard, and valued. Without this, our need for psychological and emotional safety ends up driving our behavior. “Can I say this here?” “Will I be judged if others know this about me?” “Can I be my authentic self with these people?” “What aspects of myself can I allow to show up at work?” We do what we need to stay safe. This is the low-grade noise underneath all human interactions and when the noise becomes too distracting, it impedes our best work and highest performance together.
Intune Collective frames DEIB work in terms of fostering dignity and respect for each person, helping to create an environment where people can feel that they belong. We help leaders and teams cultivate practices and implement policies so that peers and colleagues can participate intentionally and consciously to foster belonging for their teams and the organization as a whole.
Three Ways to Foster Belonging at Work
1. Name Your Why
As with any long-term initiative, it takes commitment at the gut level to ride out challenges and setbacks. If you’re leading or designing a DEIB initiative at your company, it’s going to be important for you to identify your personal reasons for leading the charge. What is going to motivate you or inspire you to keep going when difficult situations or conversations happen? Who will you want to be working with and how will you center your work? What this means is: are you doing the work for personal reasons that will authentically benefit underrepresented individuals or groups of individuals in your organization? At the organizational level, it will be equally important to align towards a Northstar that is aimed at creating room for whole humans at work, namely, ways for people to feel safe, connected, and valued. When this happens, there is greater capacity for achievement, innovation, creativity, and performance.
2. Build Bridges
DEIB work is essentially bridge building. We are helping clients build as many bridges as they can to allow more and more people to cross over—crossing into a commitment of mindful awareness of one’s intentions and impact on others; into choosing to be an ally to others when a voice of privilege can be effective; towards understanding the importance of each person’s identity to be fully welcomed in the workplace in order to foster a sense of belonging; and into policies, processes, and a sense of purpose that propel company culture in terms of alignment, effectiveness, and joy.
We are currently working with a client on developing their organization to be a place where each employee can flourish and where their service-based clients are seen, heard, and treated with respect. They are working to resolve interpersonal conflicts, and elevate their awareness in how they communicate with one another. With guidance and coaching, they are also finding their voice, both internally and externally, in terms of taking a stand on community and political events that are counter to their company values. In short, they are committed to walking the talk as they build their Diversity, Equity, Including and Belonging (DEIB) practices from inside out, bridging where they are today with their version of being the organization of the future.
3. Practice Empathy
Empathy is the capacity to feel what another person is experiencing and compassion is the desire to help ease another’s pain. Sensing is the sensitivity to assess and detect feelings and emotions that are not necessarily expressed but can be felt.
Empathy begins with the capacity to practice active listening, model vulnerability, and see the world from someone else’s eyes. Compassionate leaders understand that people want to be part of something meaningful and feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work. They also acknowledge that their employees, remote or otherwise, are working while handling tremendous amounts of stress, anxiety, disappointment, and grief in these times.
Leaders need to also sense beyond what is explicitly requested. Discerning when team members need logistical support, require a break, or just need heartfelt words of encouragement is a valuable skill. As leaders attune to the needs of the human beings in the workplace, they build capacity for deepening relationships and creating openings that ultimately drive performance and desired outcomes for your organization.
Never has there been a more critical time to gather and champion diverse voices and experiences around the table. We see belonging as the lever to ignite unity and performance. When humans connect to each other and a shared purpose, it increases performance, progress, and outcomes.
We help organizations link DEIB values to their organizational values. To elevate commitment, we help businesses build a culture of belonging and empathy. Learn about our 4 Step DEIB Solution to create a people-first environment for your organization.