Andrew Campbell-Edie, our Communications Manager was invited to join the speaker panel at Dublin Pride’s recent Pride at Work Conference, May 2022 (www.prideatwork.ie). With Noah Halpin, Healthcare Officer – TENI – Transgender Equality Network Ireland and the host Aifric Ní Chríodáin, Executive Director – Shoutout, the panel discussed the important contribution that ‘Belonging’ makes to staff retention.
As ever, the pressure of time meant that there were some points that Andrew didn’t get to, so he is sharing them in this blog
Belonging (in the workplace) comes when everyone in an organisation is supported to thrive and has the same equipment, encouragement and opportunity as each other. Belonging comes from appreciating differences and from fostering fairness and respect for each other
The next step?
A focus on ‘Belonging’ often comes after an organisation has taken the first steps on the EDI journey and is making the holistic changes to policies, practices and culture that embed progress across the entire operation. However, belonging isn’t the next step. Belonging is part and parcel of Inclusion.
A shared sense of belonging is a sign that an organisation has successfully created a culture of Inclusion and means that people share a unity and have found their ‘tribe’ – which is a fundamental neurological need.
Indeed, measuring the sense of belonging felt by all team members (through an all-person staff survey) is a key focus of our Investors in Diversity Silver accreditation. Supported by Ibec, Investors in Diversity is Ireland’s premier mark and the second tier of the framework affirms that an organisation has both embedded Inclusive practices throughout the organisation as well as developed and fostered a sense of fairness and belonging among colleagues.
Supporting belonging in the workplace
Organisations can foster belonging’s sense of comfort and safety for LGBT+ people, people in the legally protected groupings (and for everyone) with three measures:
- Respect the law. There is Duty of care legislation as well as legal protections against bullying and harassment. This is the very minimum measure and it doesn’t represent progress – it is merely not breaking the law
- Create a holistic culture of inclusion by having stated policies in place, make sure everyone is aware of these policies and knows that they are accountable if they are not acting on. Investors in Diversity accreditation signals a commitment to progress on Equality and Inclusion for all.
- Enable (respectful) conversations to dispel any ignorance and prejudices. No one can speak for an entire community and no one should be forced into that role. Create a safe space and give room for speakers to volunteer.
Logo changes and rainbow flag bunting for Pride month are lovely, but if they are not backed by year-round policies and supports then that is an issue. Authenticity is the watchword here and again, we can look to culture to drive holistic and lasting progress.
It must be remembered that Pride is rooted in a protest (1969’s Stonewall riots in Greenwich village New York) that sparked a demand for progress that endures to today. Recent events in Sligo and on the streets of Dublin have shown us that the race wasn’t won by the Marriage Equality Referendum and there is still much progress needed on discrimination and abuse.
Inclusion is for everyone
Sounding like a quote from a philosophy text book, “We are all different, so Diversity includes us all”, is a key point to make sure no one is left out of D&I conversations and progress. Progress on the Inclusion in the workplace and treating everyone with respect and fairness benefits everyone – not LGBT+ people and other legally-protected groups. There are more differences that are unseen, than those that are visible. It must be remembered that just because people may not have come out, it doesn’t mean that there are no LGBT+ people in the organisation.
It isn’t a philosopher’s quote either, but it must also be remembered that “D&I is not just black and white”. Allyship has a huge part to play in progress, which is another reason why conversations around Inclusion should include everyone and make space for all voices to be heard
Stop the revolving door
Recent studies have uncovered that over 50% of employees have quit or are planning to quit their roles with a lack of belonging as a major contributor. Organisations should be taking measures to deliver a sense of belonging for current team members and people that may be considering joining.
Furthermore, representation is vital for attracting talent. Potential recruits shouldn’t have to ask if an organisation has a supporting Inclusive culture – wear accreditations awards on the website with pride!
Recruitment is only part of the jigsaw. Retention and Progression complete the picture and help to ensure the pipeline that creates the positive cycle of representation at all levels of the organisation.
No representation can signal that the organisation doesn’t have the competitive business benefits that come from including diverse perspectives. This lack of perspectives can set up the negative cycle which means that an organisation is not serving a customer/service-user group.
Grassroots driving change
We are at a rare moment in time when progress and the demand for change can come from the grassroots (through consumer/service-user demand, from Employee Resource Groups – ERGs etc). It fills me with hope that Millennials and Gen-Zers are the biggest demographic in the workplace. They are known to have social consciousness (including ‘belonging at work’) as a key priority in their decision-making process (consumer choices, employment options and more) and they are at the age and experience level to place them in middle-manager roles where they can make the decisions that shape the organisation.
That said, Inclusive Leadership is still key to changing an organisation’s culture for many reasons including making the resources available.
Rip up the textbook!
Actually, there is no textbook (apologies for the clickbait). There are no hard and fast rules, so don’t be afraid of making mistakes – they are opportunities to learn from and improve. There’s also no ‘one size fits all’ approach and what works in one organisation may not work in another. There’s also no need to reinvent the wheel. Hundreds of organisations – at all stages of the journey – have engaged with our Investors in Diversity mark and have best practice to learn from. Speak to peers and representative bodies such as Chambers of commerce, trade bodies and others. Finally, never let fear of offending hold the organisation back from addressing belonging and D&I. Doing nothing never leads to progress. Be authentic, Be holistic – Belong
#DiversityandInclusion #Belonging #DublinPride #PrideAtWork #LGBTTraining #Inclusionatwork #InvestorsinDiversity