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Why Belonging should be at the heart of your DEI strategy

Do your staff feel like they belong at work?

Many organizations focus on traditional diversity and equality efforts, for example improving representation of marginalized groups or ensuring all groups receive equal pay and opportunities.

While these are incredibly important steps to take, many organizations are neglecting a key aspect of DEI.

‘Belonging’ is a key concept which should underpin your DEI strategy to build a positive culture of engaged and motivated employees.

What is belonging?

Belonging is about employees feeling able to bring their whole and true selves to work. It is about feeling accepted, appreciated, and celebrated for who you are.

How is belonging different to inclusion?

Inclusion is the active effort of leaders and companies to create an environment where everyone feels involved, respected and able to contribute regardless of their differences. Whereas belonging is the successful result of inclusive environments. It is when employees feel like they are a valued part of the group and are comfortable in sharing their identity with their colleagues.

Why is belonging important for my business?

Creating a sense of belonging among employees is crucial for businesses aiming to retain their staff and cultivate an inclusive work culture.

According to Harvard Business Review, over 40% of experience physical and emotional isolation at work, which can result in disengagement, reduced productivity, and increased employee turnover.

Employees who feel happy and safe at work are more productive and more likely to stay with their employer. Deloitte research reveals that companies which prioritize belonging can achieve significant benefits, including a 56% boost in performance, a 75% drop in sick days, and a 50% decrease in staff turnover.

How to support belonging at work

1. Set up employee groups

Employee Resource Groups or ‘Belonging Committees’ or councils are a great way to engage employees and give them the opportunity to vocalize what they need to feel like they belong.

2. Share stories and experiences

Sharing employee stories helps people to feel recognized and celebrated for who they are. It supports other staff by increasing visibility of all different groups – and seeing themselves represented in different ways.

3. Provide opportunities for connection and support

Employees feel a stronger sense of belonging when they feel connected to their colleagues and supported at work. Mentorship is a great way to provide connection and support, as are groups that bring employees together across departments. Social events can also support this but ensure that they don’t become exclusionary ie out of working hours could exclude parents, or a focus on alcohol could exclude staff who don’t drink.

Without belonging, companies with even the best intentions to improve diversity and equality will fail to engage and retain staff. Belonging should underpin your DEI strategy to build a more positive workplace culture in your organization.

Diversify the Future is shaping the future of STEM by ensuring that diverse and under-represented communities have access to education and qualifications. We are supported by Engtal, a leading US technology and engineering staffing firm. For every under-represented candidate that Engtal places, they donate $1000 to our scholarship fund. This supports individuals from under-represented or disadvantaged backgrounds to access STEM-specific college scholarships.


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