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Tip 240 - The Need to Belong, Part 2

How do we come together and value belonging? As we reflect on this question, consider that the words diversity and inclusion are often referred to as if they are one word. Even though they are better together, each is distinct in approach and ability, like doubles partners in tennis. Diversity is about identity and representation, the composition of a workforce. Inclusion is people bringing their differing perspectives and opinions to the larger group without fear of rejection or the idea of needing to fit into a culture. Verna Myers, a leading diversity and inclusion expert, states it this way, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” Getting to a place of belonging, where everyone can contribute their best, is the goal of diversity and inclusion.

Equity, another word that appears in the diversity and inclusion conversation, is about bridging the opportunity gap. The stratification in our society results in some people having more opportunity than others, sometimes forming a bias in favor of a desirable trait. Equity is about acknowledging that these large societal gaps exist and then providing pathways to overcoming them to ensure we are not making decisions based on prestige or access, instead looking at talent and capability more holistically.

Leaders create culture through all their actions and interactions. Marianne Williamson, activist and author of A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, said, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” (1996, pg. 165). Bringing your authentic self to work is the first step to belonging. It is the part where you are transparent and honest about your identity: who you are, what fuels you, and how you communicate.


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