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New Year, New Culture of Belonging to Cultivate

Outside of our human craving to be loved, the other emotion that drives esteem, affects decisions, and determines outcomes is our innate desire to belong. A workplace culture that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive is a valuable way to create and maintain a workforce of highly engaged, productive employees with a healthy sense of belonging. This sense ultimately drives performance and the bottom line. Once your organization creates this culture, your job as a leader is to be the “talent gardener” and make sure all employees get the care and opportunity to blossom and grow equally.

As a leader of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, here are a few things you can do to lead the way in cultivating a new, blossoming culture of belonging in the new year.

Listen. As C-suite or senior leaders, we all understand the value of metrics and quantifying efforts. DE&I is no different. The question then becomes what is the best use of our time to acquire employee data outside of surveys and assessments. The answer is to simply listen. Instead of counting heads, by listening, you are making heads count. Nothing says you belong more than being heard. Put forums, processes, and tools in place that make it easier to listen to your team’s ideas, opinions, feedback, and suggestions at every level. Then watch as the culture of inclusion and belonging blossoms.

Don’t just hire; grow your talent. Just hiring for diversity is not enough. You get no extra credit simply by hiring diverse talent. Merely increasing the number of diverse hires may not solve your problem if you do not also measure turnover, promotions, and advancement. Perhaps the more effective key performance indicator would be to ask at the executive and team leader level, “How are you managing and growing a diverse team?” Their answers may surprise you, and they will definitely provide insight into best growth practices.

Don’t blame the seed. If a plant starts to grow, but the leaves start to turn from green to yellow or brown, do we blame the plant or the seed for not thriving, or do we look at the gardener who’s responsible for caring for that seedling, as well as the soil where it was planted? It does not foster a culture of belonging when an organization immediately jumps to shame, blame, and assumptions, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, rather than blaming the seed, assess and measure shared accountability.

Allow equal access to resources. Great leaders of organizations with a healthy culture of inclusion recognize the need to do more to achieve the maximum harvest of diverse talent. Start by ensuring that everyone has equal access to all the resources to thrive and grow under your watch. Belonging means feeling at home. Nothing says home more than knowing that anything needed to aid in growth and success is available and accessible to you, no different from any other group member.

Remember, be bold when managing your moments, be kind to yourself and others and be brave in wishing out loud.

What practice will you intentionally implement this year to foster a diverse, equal and inclusive workplace culture of belonging?

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