For a few seconds, D&I, which evolved overnight to DEI, was considered DEI&B. While I bucked the whole addition of “B” being added to an already divisive group of letters, and because “belonging” feels very squishy—I resisted adding the “B” to my vernacular. But I’ve calmed down, and after reading a recent article about belonging published in the Harvard Business Review, I’m ready for us to talk about the idea of belonging.

According to the article, building a culture of belonging requires four things:


Humans feel a sense of belonging when they can be their whole authentic selves and be respected/appreciated simultaneously. An article published in January 2020 encourages leaders to bring their whole selves to work. They explain by modeling authenticity, empathy, and vulnerability; leaders show employees it’s ok to be their whole (and best) authentic selves.


Connecting to colleagues can be tough in a post-pandemic world where we’ve replaced handshakes and watercooler chats with zoom meetings and emails. However, it’s never been more imperative to encourage colleagues to connect. When coworkers connect, they feel open to safely contribute their ideas which is a driving force by which organizations innovate, evolve, and thrive.


Having a sense of belonging is what maintains diversity. It provides the freedom to speak up and contribute in a diverse way. Unfortunately, we can all gather a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds who then engage in “group think” and squander the diversity at the table. Catalina Colman, Director of HR & Inclusion at Built In, explains in an article, “Every employee should feel valued at work, by their peers and their employer. They should be able to walk through the door without feeling like something about them has to change.” Senior leaders who embody the organization’s values of inclusivity by supporting individuality provide an environment where belonging thrives.


Let’s face it, being successful in creating a culture where everyone feels they belong is tough. Sometimes we focus solely on challenges, and we forget to celebrate the wins, all the wins! It is a great unifier to allow your team to be proud of your organization’s values and purpose and their commitment to this space.

Write Connections | strategy + design, LLC. works with companies and nonprofits in all of their DEI efforts. Make the write connection with us.