“Imagine Belonging” – A powerful new book to help workplace leaders build an equitable workplace.

Rhodes Perry with his new book

About two or three times a year, I do like to blog about new books in the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) field that are powerful, practical and can truly help an organization grow their DEI strategy and execution. One such book is “Imagine Belonging – Your Inclusive Leadership Guide to Building an Equitable Workplace” by Rhodes Perry.

Belonging is becoming a key concept in the DEI arena. In fact, I have seen many organizations add the “B” and now talk about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Rhodes Perry defines belonging as “an emotional outcome that comes from feeling seen for your unique contributions, connected to your coworkers, supporting in your daily work and career development, and proud of your organization’s values and purpose.”

More information on both Rhodes’ books

This is Rhodes’ second book on this topic, with his first being the best-selling “Belonging at Work: Everyday Actions You Can Take To Cultivate an Inclusive Organization.” When it came out in early 2019, I wrote this blog about it. This book focused on what all employees and leaders can do to build an inclusive workplace culture where everyeone can feel like they belong.

This new follow up book is now specifically targeted for workplace leaders who are the ones who need to drive and build a belonging workplace culture.

Here are some of the key points and topics in the book:

• Rhodes shares some of his journey growing into leadership as a transgender man, and introduces the importance of clarity, confidence and commitment in driving transformation.

• The criticality of addressing organizational culture in doing any kind of work around DEIB. This includes examining your own leadership style, your team and the entire organization, and how identifying and addressing dominant culture vs. belonging culture systems is crucial. This also includes six key questions to explore in doing a “belonging culture audit.”

• How all efforts can get derailed by conforming, and the need to have courage, which Rhodes defines as a the opposite of conformity.  (See my June, 2022 blog “The importance of courage in being an inclusive leader.”)

• The book includes a fantastic practical table of “12 belonging culture traits.”

• Comparing competitive teams (and their issues) with cooperative teams (and their advantages.) The book also discusses the pros and cons of individualism and traits of a relationship driven team

• How to transform organizational culture to build belonging and trust, and the business advantages of doing this.

I highly recommend this book if you are leading transformational diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work in your organization. To check out the book an to order it, link to www.imaginebelonging.com. And if you want to connect more deeply on the topic of belonging in the workplace, please check out Rhodes’ newest podcast, Imagine Belonging at Work, at https://imaginebelongingatworkpodcast.com/.

From TEDx Provincetown – Five Ways to Eradicate the Racial Wealth Gap with Tara Vargas Wallace

Tara Vargas Wallace, Founder and CEO, Amplify POC

In June of 2022, I was invited along with all the board members of “Gay Sons and Mothers” to attend our executive director’s TEDx Provincetown Talk, “The Mother Factor: Acceptance Works Both Ways.” Link to my blog about that talk.

But I also was treated to seven additional diverse and impactful talks, one of those being the extremely important topic of eradicating the racial wealth gap presented by Tara Vargas Wallace, founder and CEO of Amplify POC, which advocates for racial justice and economic development of People of Color in the Cape Cod, Massachusetts area.

Tara started her brief talk with an introduction of her personal journey, going from a homeless teen with a child living in the Bronx to becoming a social worker and becoming aware of the impacts of systemic racism.  (See my blog on personal and institutional racism)

What is the Racial Wealth Gap? It is the difference in wealth between groups of people based on race and ethnicity. Harmful American policies over the past decades have severely disadvantaged Black and Brown Americans, making it nearly impossible for them to build generational wealth. According to Federal Reserve Bank statistics, white households currently have 8 times the wealth of Black households and 5 times the wealth of Brown households. Long time policies of redlining (a loan practice which made it much harder to obtain mortgages in minority neighborhoods) and gentrification (which pushed minority families out of affordable housing) have resulted in these drastic gaps in generational wealth accumulation.

So what can we do to address this injustice? Tara challenged us to practice “wallet activism” in terms of how we make, spend and invest our money and offered five practical suggestions:

Tara Vargas Wallace speaking at TEDx Provincetown

1) Advocate for substantial national investment in Brown and Black communities

2) Push for improving housing policy, especially addressing the negative impacts of redlining and gentrification

3) Expand access to entrepreneurship. Make it much more easy and fair for Black and Brown owned business to obtain loans and investments

4) Support and patronize Black and Brown owned businesses regularly

5) Vote for candidates who support public policies to remove these economic barriers, including updated federal guidelines for contracts with minority owned businesses.

This is certainly a systemic long-range wrong that needs to be corrected by sustained action. Tara ended her talk by encouraging us to spread the word on this issue.

Here is a link to hear the seven minute recording of Tara Vargas Wallace’s talk.