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How to Create a Culture of Belonging

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Creating an inclusive culture in the workplace is essential for promoting diversity and fostering a sense of belonging for all people. An inclusive culture values and respects each individual’s unique perspectives and experiences and promotes equal opportunities.

Establishing this type of culture requires commitment and support from senior leaders of the organization. However, it can’t stop there. The willingness to take inspired but concrete action to co-create an inclusive culture is also necessary.

Action steps include:

  • Recognizing and developing A-Players from within.

  • Hiring a diverse workforce.

  • Implementing policies and practices that promote an A-Player culture from within.

Steps to Build an Inclusive Culture

There are essential steps that inclusive leaders can take to foster a collaborative spirit, including encouraging people to co-create an environment that makes it safe to express ideas or concerns without fear of scorn, judgment, or ridicule. The co-creation of an inclusive culture is a team sport where organizations benefit from all group members’ diverse perspectives and experiences. Diverse perspectives and experiences improve communication, collaboration, and overall operational efficiency, fostering group wellness and improving effectiveness and performance.

So, what does it take to create a culture of belonging in the workplace?

These insights will help get your organization on the right track.

What is a Culture of Belonging?

A culture of belonging is a social environment in which all members feel accepted, valued, and supported. It is a culture that promotes inclusivity and respect for diversity, in which individuals feel a sense of belonging and connection to the group. Creating opportunities for belonging and connection can happen through various means, such as creating opportunities for collaboration and teamwork, fostering open communication and dialogue, and actively working to eliminate discrimination and prejudice.

A culture of belonging can have many benefits, including improved mental health and well-being, higher levels of productivity and innovation, and a greater sense of community and connection among members.

Why Is It Important to Have a Culture of Belonging?

Having a culture of belonging is vital for many reasons. First and foremost, it is essential for an individual’s well-being and mental health. When people belong and feel accepted by their community, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and meaning. They are also more likely to feel comfortable and confident in their surroundings, leading to improved work performance, productivity, and overall well-being.

In addition, a culture of belonging can foster a sense of community and connection among group members and peers. When people feel like they are part of a team or community, they are more likely to work together towards common goals and support one another. This support leads to increased collaboration, innovation, and greater satisfaction and fulfillment.

Finally, a culture of belonging is vital for promoting diversity and inclusiveness. When individuals feel like they belong, they are more likely to feel comfortable bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the table. People can feel a more dynamic group spirit and see hope for a more fair and just society.

Here is a look at the steps that an organization can take to create a culture of belonging:

1 - Senior Leaders Must Support Culture Change

Senior leaders must be on board with creating a culture of belonging because leadership is crucial to creating, sustaining, and maintaining lasting changes. Leaders set the tone and example for the rest of the group and shape the values, policies, and practices that define the culture.

By setting the intention to create an inclusive culture of belonging, leaders signal to the rest of the group that culture is a priority. By letting everyone know that culture is a priority, people feel confident contributing to co-creating a welcoming and supportive environment, which helps to establish a shared understanding of general expectations. It can create a sense of accountability among group members and peers.

As leaders show that they are committed to creating an inclusive culture, they build trust and credibility with their people. It demonstrates that they are open to hearing different perspectives and appreciating the value of diversity and belonging. They were hearing other views and valuing a sense of belonging among team members, as they felt like they were part of a team that cared about their well-being and success.

2 - Create a Plan for Facilitating Change

Inclusive leaders must have a plan for facilitating change because creating a culture of belonging requires a structured and intentional approach that requires perseverance and patience. It is something that takes time and requires ongoing effort and attention. A plan can help leaders clearly define their goals and objectives and identify the specific action steps necessary to achieve them. It also helps to ensure that essential resources and support are in place to facilitate the change process. A plan can help leaders track progress and make adjustments as needed. An outlined plan helps to organize the way forward and provides a way to manage and measure the effectiveness of different strategies and identify problem areas to address and resolve.

Overall, having a plan can help inclusive leaders be more strategic and proactive in their efforts to create a culture of belonging to increase the chances of success in achieving their goals. Certainly, perseverance is essential when working to develop a culture of belonging. Creating a culture of belonging requires ongoing effort and attention over a sustained timeline. It is something that takes persistent time and effort to accomplish. Leaders must remain consistent with staying committed to goals, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.

Perseverance is essential because it allows leaders to secure sustainable results with precision, focus on their vision, and have a forward-movement momentum, even when they encounter obstacles or resistance. It helps to stay motivated to keep working towards, tracking, and adjusting goals as necessary. It can serve as an inspiration to others who are also committed to creating a culture of belonging.

Patience and perseverance are crucial qualities for inclusive leaders as a culture of belonging develops, which is an essential factor in the success of making things happen.

3 - Implement the Changes to Create a Lasting Culture

It takes time to implement and anchor the changes that yield a new way of being - this section will contain thoughts and advice on creating a culture of lasting change. Here are some tips that can help these changes get implemented:

Tip #1 - Start at the top: Leadership must commit to creating an inclusive culture. For sustainable change and results, leaders must be willing to take concrete steps to develop the systems, processes, and metrics that will assist in making an inclusive and innovative culture a reality. These systems, processes, and metrics include setting diversity and inclusion goals, allocating resources toward D & I or wellness initiatives, modeling inclusive behaviors, or assisting in the amicable resolution of disagreements between group members.

Do not go silent and allow issues to go unresolved when misunderstandings emerge and communication shuts down between group members! Get in front of the problem and lead the way to calmer waters. You can do this! In the long run, it will serve you to cultivate a collaborative community and ensure a culture that fosters psychological safety and trust.

Tip #2 - Engage all of your people: Creating an inclusive culture requires the buy-in and participation of stakeholders, those who are your people. Consider organizing casual events to build community, camaraderie, and other learning opportunities to help people understand the essentials of diversity and inclusion and how they can contribute and benefit from creating a more inclusive workplace.

Tip #3 - Foster open and honest communication: Encourage people to share thoughts, ideas, and experiences regarding diversity and inclusion to create a safe and welcoming environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

Tip #4 - Be proactive: Take inspired action-and do not wait- to address pressing issues related to transforming your workplace culture. Whether you are a small business or a medium-sized company, allowing a situation to fester and go unresolved is never a good idea. Instead, seek ways to create a safe space and encourage open, honest, and compassionate communication.

Reviewing and updating policies ensures people are aware of and on onboard with creating employee resource groups, getting support when necessary, and supporting diversity in leadership and decision-making roles.

In Conclusion:

Creating a culture of belonging is essential in today’s workforce. Before examining how to foster a culture of belonging, it’s critical to realize that the cost of not fostering an inclusive culture can be high.

Here are some reasons to consider:

Unhappy people in your group or organization lead to increased turnover, which can be costly in terms of time and resources to replace and retrain new people too often. A culture that needs to be more inclusive is at high risk of experiencing low morale and disengagement. Toxic tribalism damages a company’s reputation and credibility in the market, harming an organization’s bottom line. Organizations can improve the well-being and satisfaction of their people by creating a culture of belonging and driving business success into an innovative and resilient future.


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