After Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Comes … BELONGING! Two perspectives.

Belonging is the first psychological element on Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”

Diversity and Inclusion continues to grow as a strategic discussion that all organizations need to engage in for growth and profitability. But is inclusion now enough? Is there something after inclusion? Recently, I have heard more discussion around the subject of belonging.

What is the difference between inclusion and belonging?

Inclusion is defined as the state of being taken in. Belonging is defined as being in close or intimate relationship. It goes beyond simply being at the table, but being truly listened to and valued.

Recently the discussion of belonging has come to light via two professionals within my sphere:

• Gracie Johnson-Lopez, Founder and Inclusion Strategist with Diversity&HR Solutions, who recently spoke on this topic at our monthly Triangle (NC) Society of Human Resource Management (TSHRM) meeting.

• Rhodes Perry, Founder of Rhodes Perry Consulting. Rhodes, a transgender man, does leadership coaching and inclusion consulting, and is a fellow certified LGBT-Business Enterprise.

Gracie Johnson-Lopez of Diversity&HR Solutions

First, the insights from Gracie’s presentation “Creating Cultures of Belonging” at the October 25, 2018 TSHRM monthly meeting. Gracie kicked off the session showing a gripping 3.5 minute video, “Inclusion Starts with I” which has received over half a million hits and highlights how all people want to belong in their workplaces.

Some other information that Gracie shared:

• The face of America and the world is changing, and we all have a adapt to succeed. Globalization makes it easier for any business to do business and have employees anywhere in the world. Millennials in the workplace continue to grow. And while Christians will increase 35%, the worldwide Muslim population will increase 78%. All these segments of people will need to feel that they belong for an organization to thrive.

• In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belonging is the first psychological need after the basic physical needs of safety, food and shelter. And given the number of hours we spend at work, it makes sense that have a feeling of belonging in the workplace is important.

• So often people, especially minorities, are physically included and present, but not truly listened to and treated as they fully belong.

• Gracie shared 6 tools for creating a sense of belonging in communications, and 7 steps to building a culture of belonging. If you want more detail, perhaps contact and engage Gracie for your business or group via her website.

Rhodes Perry of Rhodes Perry Consulting

Second, insights from Rhodes Perry. Rhodes recently shared in an email to his constituents:

“Feeling like you don’t belong in your place of work is stressful. It is uncomfortable, demoralizing, and takes away from your potential to offer your unique gifts and talents to your work. ⠀

I remember this stress well. Mine derived from constantly having to place a veil over my authentic self. Namely, I withheld sharing that I was assigned female at birth, and covered important aspects of my gender history, as they were relevant to particular conversations in the workplace. ⠀

Not fitting in during this early employment period of my life motivated me to become a diversity, equity, and inclusion professional and my continued work with organizations of all kinds has motivated me to write this book. ⠀

I believe we can change the culture of work for the better so we can all truly feel we belong and show up as our authentic selves. I encourage you to share your story with someone at your workplace or a close friend or family member. By sharing our experiences, we can make room for inclusive cultures…together.”

Rhodes’ book, “Belonging at Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take to Cultivate an Inclusive Organization” launches November 13th, on World Kindness Day! Link to info on receiving the book.

Christopher Coleman – An extraordinary study in diversity intersectionality: Black, Disabled, Gay and Christian!

Christopher Coleman – Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Author & Confidence-Builder

Twice when I traveled to Georgia for diversity events, I met an extraordinary inspirational young man named Christopher Coleman.

Christopher was pronounced dead at birth, and after 15 minutes without oxygen to his brain, his wails filled the room the moment his twin sister entered the world. Chris was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, and doctors told Christopher’s family that this condition would prevent their son from ever moving, talking or even thinking for himself.

As a youngster, Christopher was not given the opportunity to learn, but most often placed in a corner is special education classes and ignored the entire day. But young Christopher was determined, and at night would sneak his sister’s text books out of her room and teach himself to read. When 15, at the insistence of his mother, Christopher started attending mainstream high school and graduated 5th in his class of 360 seniors. And he was the first member of his family to attend college and graduated with a Bachelor of Communication.

Christopher became a life coach, author and motivational speaker through his “Unconfined Life Institute,” sharing the challenges he overcame with his trifecta of being a disabled black Christian in the South. But for several years and those extraordinary challenges, he hid a fourth aspect of his diversity. Then at age 38, Christopher decided to be true to himself, and come out as a gay, black, disabled Christian man.

Christopher Coleman does not let his disability hold him back from doing ANYTHING!

This provided additional challenges and even more reasons to be rejected. But once again, Christopher overcame the odds to remain a leader in fostering all aspects of diversity and teaching others to overcome all challenges to live an unconfined life.

Christopher is very articulate in discussing the intersections of diversity. He shares that in some circles, he can be accepted as black and gay, but rejected since he uses a motorized wheelchair and speaks with difficulty. In some circles, everyone is fine with him being a gay disabled man, but rejects him because of his race. And in other circles, it is fine to be a black, disabled Christian, but not gay. His story and life underscore the importance of each of us appreciating the full and many diversity attributes each individual brings into the world.

And diversity intersectionality is becoming increasing prevalent in our globally connected multi-cultural world, and much more understood and embraced by the new generation of adults.

Please check out Christopher Coleman’s website, to learn more about him and his work. Engage with him! He can have a powerful impact on your life, team or organization. Contact him via LinkedIn, or call 678-756-5212

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Check out my earlier blog series for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

And check out my blog featuring a resource on cerebral palsy, “An excellent resource (and writer): Cerebral Palsy Guidance and Alex Diaz-Granados.”