Inclusion & belonging

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are the words we use to describe a multifaceted approach to making sure our company culture allows for many different kinds of people to add value and succeed. Inclusion is a critical component to this work. Inclusion is a set of actions that leaders do to make it easier for employees to feel a sense of belonging. Belonging is the ultimate goal. Inclusion is the strategy that we can do to achieve belonging.

For the purposes of this toolkit, we’ll describe two contrasting versions of inclusion. 

Passive Inclusion

A company might simply say “We are an equal opportunity employer” or “All are welcome here.” This is a passive approach to inclusivity. People who identify with marginalized groups (BIPOC, LGBTQ, and others) will see that there is nothing actively being done to make sure they will be safe to succeed in that environment. People who are sensitive to marginalization will be less likely to show up authentically in these environments.

A sense of belonging is available only to those who feel safe and respected at work. In passive inclusion environments, people who have experienced marginalization will be less likely to feel a sense of belonging.

Proactive Inclusion

Companies that practice proactive inclusion are sensitive to the fact that people who identify with marginalized groups need a few specific protections in place so that they can show up to work as authentic, enthusiastic, engaged employees. Those protections include a careful attention to avoiding dehumanizing language at work, support of employees to express their own ethic and cultural belonging, and safeguards against biased recruiting and hiring by obfuscation of personal identity during that process. 

When companies are active in their efforts to promote inclusion, employees are more likely to feel a sense of belonging even if they’ve been marginalized in the workplace in the past. Proactive inclusion environments allow employees to stop protecting themselves and start pouring their energy into being productive at work.