Design For Belonging Instead Of Only Inclusion
When it comes to truly embracing diversity and inclusion, it’s important to design for belonging. All-too-often, diversity and inclusion initiatives solely focus on limited behaviours such as increasing diversity and anti-bias training for staff, or fostering more inclusive marketing practices. Rather, diversity and inclusion initiatives need expansion so each individual within the organisation feels as if they belong. With this in mind, how can an organisation be designed for belonging?
What Is Design For Belonging?
- When an organisation is designed for belonging, it must do the following things:
- Invite – intentionally request groups and individuals to join the organisation’s community.
- Welcome – ensure that those within the community have their identities and emotions honoured.
- Accept and Know – all organisation members should feel that they are seen and accepted for the person that they are and are understood as such.
- Encourage contribution and participation – individuals should be confident their opinions and ideas matter to the organisation.
- Allow growth – individuals should enjoy personal growth through knowing that they are making a positive contribution to the organisation.
How Can A Business Operating Model Be More Inclusive?
These days, a business’s operating model represents the area where most discrimination exists. Frequently, these are unconscious sources, but nevertheless, they must be tackled and removed. How can this be achieved?
Firstly, it’s important to introduce incentive systems that push forward belonging and solidarity rather than separation and individualism. It’s also essential that processes are reviewed to ensure that no discrimination exists. Simply having a Diversity Policy in place is insufficient. Organisations must look again at their systems and processes that are currently in place and put themselves in the place of individuals from a broad spectrum of diverse groups – would they face discrimination in any respect? If so, the processes must be altered or replaced entirely.
Of course, another key element in introducing more inclusivity to the operating model of any business is to design it in such a way that more diverse candidates are attracted to it and, importantly, to be able to progress up the career ladder within it accordingly. This offers the business the benefit of diverse and multiple viewpoints as well as the advantage of having a wider range of skills and experience at its disposal.
Creating A Culture Of Belonging
It’s only through an organisation’s culture that those within it can feel as if they truly belong. With a non-inclusive culture within the workplace, those from diverse groups will never feel as if they fit in and will, almost inevitably, look elsewhere for opportunities, thus robbing the organisation of their skills, experience and talent.
To create a culture of belonging within any organisation, the first step is to identify divisive behaviours and wipe them out before replacing them with inclusive ones. Organisations must break divisive patterns and eradicate divisive influences by applying and advocating for more inclusive policies. They must also, most vitally, create an environment in which people are keen to belong. This involves creating employee resource groups, reinforcing the message of inclusion within the organisation, and actively promoting a positive, diverse ecosystem within the workplace.
It also, significantly, involves inclusive leadership with a visible commitment to diversity in all business activities. An inclusive leader will lead the way by example and behaviour for the rest of their team. They will be aware of bias and be constantly on the lookout for multiple viewpoints and opinions so that the organisation can grow and thrive through greater inclusivity.
While inclusion is a key element of the design of any business, it will always be more important to ensure and foster a sense of belonging within the organisation. When every member of the team feels appreciated, understood, and accepted, they can give their best. In turn, the company can benefit from the wide breadth of skills, experience, talent and viewpoints that a diverse and inclusive workforce can offer. It’s the best of both worlds.