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.

Yet One More Way to Oppress Transgender Americans – an Editorial

Clockwise from top left: Rhodes Perry of Rhodes Perry Consulting, LLC; Elaine Martin of The Power of Diversity; Ames Simmons of Equality NC; and Dr. Christine McGinn of the Papillon Gender Wellness Center (one sentence bio with links at bottom of blog)

I have a young cousin (actually he is my first cousin’s son) who is about to enter the Social Work Masters Program at NC State University. He is a hard working young man who has worked almost full time while paying his way through college. And he is an enlightened straight white male who truly cares about diversity issues; in his latest graduate class he wrote a series of papers on the mass incarceration of African Americans in the US and some ways that can be addressed. In fact, I will be asking Brandon to write a few guest blogs for me on this issue.

Brandon often likes to send me some interesting thoughts and articles on diversity since he knows that I am a diversity consultant. Being quite aware that my fastest growing segment is assisting companies in assisting their transgender employees who choose to go through gender transition while remaining in the workplace, Brandon will often send me his thoughts along with some interesting articles. I remember when the newly elected President Trump took initial steps to end support for transgender students in school, Brandon texted me, “How horrible is this strip of protection by the Trump administration. So transgender students have no protection over the bathroom they can use now? And pretty much all transgender people are going to migrate to the liberal states where they feel protected like New York, Colorado and California?” (see a full blog I wrote on this discussion, More NC HB-2 Discussion – Two Business Perspectives)

In terms of transgender rights, there has been great progress, but also disappointing regression. Many more companies are now understanding the value of a skilled diverse workforce, including fully supporting transgender employees. Yet at the same time, the current federal administration is oppressing America’s transgender citizens by actions such as trying to remove them from the US Armed Services.

Brandon this past month sent me an article that has quite an interesting and provocative perspective on the recent Federal Government’s seizure of the “Backpage” website, asserting that it promoted human trafficking and prostitution. (Link to article). This particular article asserted that this action disproportionately affects transgender people who may need to resort to more dangerous street work to make a
living when there is no other alternative to arrange work online. See also a NY times article on the shut down of “Backpage.”

I ask, would these two Philadelphia transgender sex workers be in this profession if they had better economic opportunities? (Photo from Joseph Kaczmarek, Philadephia Daily News)

To be fair, most transgender people work in typical jobs, but we still have many in our society, including political leaders, who demonize transgender people and treat them as sub-human. This unfair and disturbing hate coming from national, state and local leaders harms this community and gives others in society license to discriminate against transgender people. (see my blog, “Five negative impacts of NC’s HB2 on transgender people.”)

Three important closing points:

1) Instead of continually doing things to shut down transgender people’s access to making a living, non-discrimination laws need to be passed to protect the working rights of all LGBT people.

2) Ostracizing any subset of Americas as “less than” stymies them from contributing fully to our economy and community and therefore harms all of us.

3) Instead of cutting down and hating transgender people, we are a society should fully accept them and provide educational and vocational assistance along with total respect so they can thrive along with all Americans.

* * * * *
One line bios with links of the four transgender Americans in the photo collage at the top of this post:

After a robust and diverse career, Rhodes Perry formed Rhodes Perry Consulting and hosts his weekly Podcast, “The Out Entrepreneur.

Following careers as a bank executive and as owner of an aviation company, Elaine Martin has formed her consultancy, “Power of Diversity,” offering Transgender Consulting Training and Coaching for employers and their employees.

After more than a decade of in-house counsel practice at a healthcare consulting company based in Atlanta, Ames Simmons moved to North Carolina to become Equality NC’s Director of Transgender Policy.

Dr. Christine McGinn is one of the world’s leading gender transition surgeons, and the founder of the Papillon Gender Wellness Center.