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“If Diversity is being asked to the party and Inclusion is being asked to dance then Belonging is feeling able to dance like no one is watching….”

On 17 January we’re running an event on “Allies, advocates, and supporters”.  Hosted by Norton Rose Fulbright, this is a joint project between our three support groups IP Out, IP & ME and Women in IP, which will explore how we can all be allies, advocates and supporters for each other.

​Ahead of this event, Tracy Powley of Focal Point Training and Consultancy takes a look a the importance of a culture of “belonging”, and how we can create that culture in our own workplaces.

“If Diversity is being asked to the party and Inclusion is being asked to dance then Belonging is feeling able to dance like no one is watching….”

We love this definition of “Belonging” from LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report. It captures the idea that for a culture to be truly inclusive, people need to feel able to “bring their whole self to work” and be accepted and welcomed for who they are. And it taps into the strong need we all have to feel part of a community. Communities come in many different forms: families, activity and interest based, local communities in your home town… but one of the most significant for many is their workplace.

So, what can organisations do to ensure their people feel that genuine sense of belonging?
EY’s new barometer study on Belonging at Work is clear:

  • Regular check-ins … especially between manager and team member, but also amongst co-workers. Not just to cover the operational stuff, but to check how the other person is. Simply asking “how are you?” or “How are things going?” helps people to feel there is genuine interest in them as a person. It makes a world of difference.
  • Ensuring people do not feel excluded in any way. Feeling excluded often leads to a sense of isolation, sadness or even anger… Neuroscience tells us that feeling excluded (social pain) activates the area of the brain associated with physical pain. We feel it acutely and it shuts us down. The things that often lead to that feeling of exclusion are rarely intentional: banter at someone’s expense or unwanted nicknames for example. We need to work to remove these barriers to belonging.

One organisation who have created their own take on “belonging” is Avon Fire and Rescue, who use their DICE model to sum up the culture they are trying to create:

  • Diversity: Acknowledging the fact that everyone is different, and has different experiences, skills and needs
  • Inclusion: Valuing the strengths that diversity brings, and removing barriers to participation
  • Cohesion: Strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds, with a common vision and sense of belonging for all
  • Equality: Giving everyone equal access to an opportunity

When we get the culture of “belonging” right, we get a powerful sense of cohesion, based on strong team identity, where everyone thrives. And, of course, business benefits such as increased productivity and better staff retention will naturally flow from this.

The “Allies, Advocates and Supporters” event being run by IP Inclusive on the 17th January will be a fantastic opportunity to explore what we can all do to create a culture where everyone feels able to be themselves.

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