Diversity and Inclusion Isn’t Enough

Belonging Shown to be Key Indicator in Achievement

I grew up in public accounting. As a female in an industry where leadership is traditionally dominated by men, it’s safe to say I’ve experienced challenges. And, because of my own journey, championing a diverse and inclusive culture within our firm has long been a passion of mine. However, I’ve realized over the last few years that diversity and inclusion isn’t actually enough. We have to take it to another level.

What we really are striving for is a true sense of belonging. For everyone.

Research has actually shown that our brains are hard-wired to motivate us toward connecting with others, for belonging. In this great article published by Switch & Shift, you’ll see that “belonging can literally feel like a life or death matter.”

As the article points out, the need to belong is a component that we have often overlooked in our journey for diversity in the workplace. When we say we are working to create an “inclusive” culture, I believe that has unintended consequences, as we often connect “inclusion” with “being more like me.”

Belonging isn’t about being like anyone else. Belonging is about showing up, fully me—bringing all my strengths (and weaknesses) and talents and ideas to the table, and having the courage to share those with a group of people with whom I live and work. That, of course, requires us to feel safe and to feel known. If I don’t feel like I am known, like I belong, then I am likely holding back my ideas, opinions and feelings.

So, the point is, until we feel a sense of belonging, we aren’t really free to achieve great things. But, when we do feel a sense of belonging, our fears fade and we are freed to pursue our full potential. I am working to create a sense of belonging for those around me—I think that’s the fundamental shift in thinking when we move from D&I to belonging…it’s a responsibility we each have to each other and not an initiative or campaign to just change the demographics.


About the Author
Kathy Watts, CPA, CHC, guides our Belonging at HORNE Steering Committee as we work to create a culture that is defined by a sense of belonging. She is a risk taker, one who asks hard questions and doesn’t shy away from healthy conflict as long as it pushes us forward.

Topics: Culture, Belonging

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