Belonging in the workplace

One of the top talking points in this year’s LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends report is the concept of Belonging in the workplace.

The Sunnyvale soothsayers are predicting that 2018 will see many more companies accepting that Diversity & Inclusion are only two points of a triangle. To truly help everyone feel included, accepted and effective in their work, employers also need to focus on creating a culture of belonging.

Now, it’s entirely possible that the reason why belonging features so prominently in the report is the identity of its chief cheerleader, Pat Wadors, who until late last year just happened to be CHRO at LinkedIn. But patronage or not, the trend is a hot one and we wholeheartedly agree that you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the months and years ahead.

For our part, we’re finding ourselves fielding more and more requests from recruiters specifically for diverse candidate profiles. In 2018 there is barely an employer in the world for whom Diversity & Inclusion isn’t on the radar. But there are still plenty for whom it’s effectively a tick-box exercise. And herein lies the problem.

We’re all well-versed in the platitudes around diversity multiplying perspectives, fuelling creativity and liberating your work culture from uniformity and conformity. In spite of the ubiquity of such sentiments, many employers still look solely at quotas as their measure of success. The lived experience of their employees takes a back seat.

But what if that lived experience is what actually determines how successful you are as a diverse and inclusive employer? What if, regardless of background, people can only give all of themself to their job if they feel they can bring all of themself to work in the first place?

That, in a nutshell, is what belonging is all about.

It’s the idea that we can comfortably and naturally be who we are in the workplace, safe in the knowledge that we will be accepted and valued implicitly. The LinkedIn report uses a neat analogy for the belonging’s interconnection with Diversity & Inclusion:

  • Diversity is being invited to the party
  • Inclusion is being asked to dance
  • Belonging is dancing like no one’s watching

In practice, that means things like feeling able to freely express opinions, having a genuine voice in team meetings and seeing accomplishments recognised.

Crucially, belonging has to be baked into your way of working, not sprinkled over it from on high by another internal comms diversity campaign.

It isn’t about having a culture that accepts everyone (something that demands implicit permission to be part of it). It’s about having a culture shaped by everyone. Only then will those well-worn words of your equal opportunities policy bear fruit, as each employee applies the full force of their unique perspective to their work, rather than holding their tongue for fear of not fitting in.

For us, that’s a hugely appealing and motivating prospect. Here’s to the era of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging.

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