Belongingness at work: DE&I experts share how to create a culture that promotes acceptance, inclusion & belonging
As humans, we all want to be accepted, feel included and know that we belong. This human need is often referred to as seeking a ‘sense of belonging’. And it’s something we look for in every aspect of our lives. After all, to feel like we belong gives us a sense of purpose, and helps us to feel connected to the world around us.
In the workplace, it’s important that your employees achieve a sense of belonging. Without it, staff can feel unhappy, and lack motivation. In fact, a strong sense of belonging at work results in a 56% increase in performance.
To achieve belonging, companies must make sure their culture promotes acceptance, inclusion and belonging - for everyone.
In our latest roundtable discussion we met with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion experts to talk about DE&I through the lens of hidden disabilities and neurodiverse talent. From our chat, we took away 7 key thoughts. Read on to discover what key areas to focus on to encourage belonging at work.
Equity is a vital factor in diversity and inclusion. And something that must be in the center of your D&I processes.
When it comes to the recruitment process, we must reflect and remove any barriers that might be there. Some tips our panelists suggested include:
- Rather than relying on CV and interview alone, encourage candidates to demonstrate their talents in other ways. For example, ask candidates to complete a work task or carry out a role play scenario.
- Be mindful of the job specification. Often job specs are written with a focus on how the job should be done. Instead, focus on finding someone that will give you the outcomes needed, even if it’s done in a way you wouldn’t expect.
- Use language that’s inclusive. A lot of the time job requirements list that candidates must have ‘excellent communication skills’. This alone could exclude a lot of people from applying. So ask yourself, is this really needed for the role?
- Make sure that the job site you’re advertising with doesn’t automatically screen out people with a gap in their CV. And that they’re accessible to someone using a screen reader, for example.
A bias free recruitment process will help you to open up your job roles for a diverse audience. But that’s just the beginning...
As Customer Relationship Champion at Texthelp, Nikki shared with us how her team helped her to feel comfortable and confident at work. And we created a case study to help inspire other organisations. It also allows future candidates to see how we support our staff.
“ From my own personal experience, Read&Write was installed on my machine a couple of years ago. But I didn't even know how to use it. It's only when the training came I thought, this has changed my life. We can't just put these supports in place and then leave it. It has to be something that's ongoing. There needs to be training so people can access it. Awareness even, you know that the technology or the other tools are there and available at your fingertips for everyone.”
Dr Shamsun Islam, Clinical Psychologist with Dyslexia and RSI, NELFT
An example of a Cultural Change program includes Barclay’s This is Me campaign.
As a tip for incentivising everyone to do their part, Jane shared how some companies are making it part of key performance indicators. By putting the responsibility in the context of an employee's own job role can help embed inclusive practices across the company.
“There's a great model out there called ‘Head, heart and hands’. The head, that's kind of the intellectual bit. So you know, the legal case, the business case. That's just not finite, that's kind of what the intrinsic values that we are losing or not bringing in if we haven't got that coming from a leadership perspective. The other is about that emotional and moral case, you know that thing about social justice, you know that all these resources should be free and fair for everybody. And that last bit is about the behavior, you know the actions for better engagement. So I think when we're coming to do this work and I think it's a hard piece of work for D&I leads, you've got to think which bits of that are going to tap into which bits of the leadership. So if it's your Finance Director it's going to be about actually what's the business case here? And if it's your HR, it's maybe about the behavior or the emotional bits”.
Byron Batten, Head of Inclusion-Improvement, Communications & Engagement, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust