HR Lunchtime Debate on employee belonging now available on demand

Creating a sense of belonging is about more than just celebrating differences in your organisation, it’s a question of authenticity.

Diversity and inclusion has risen up the agenda over the past year but all too often efforts focus only on recruitment.

So, what more can HR do in earnest to really make employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work?

Shubhang Davé, head of people science, EMEA at Glint, argued in our HR Lunchtime Debate on 21 April, that the best examples of feeling included at work are when colleagues take an active interest in each other.

He told the panel: “To create a sense of belonging is not just about having the right policies and celebrating differences and holidays, it's about actually priming people, identifying people, developing people who approach the people around them with curiosity and openness.”

An ability to measure the sense of belonging is also critical if businesses hope to perpetuate it, and panellists agreed that it would take more than the average engagement survey.

At EY UK&I, deputy head of diversity and inclusion Joanne Conway explained that metrics on how projects are allocated can help to create balance.

She commented: “We know that work is important for feeling valued, for being heard and for opening up opportunities which we know then leads on to progression and promotion.”

If organisations are not careful, they can perpetuate a sense of ‘othering’ rather than belonging.

Senior HR consultant Dawn Morton-Young said that this feeling can risk putting minorities under the microscope.

She said: “With the whole Black Lives Matter movement and all the rest of it [for example], black people were kind of under a microscope and we don't necessarily want to be there.”

Some organisations are not well equipped to deal with such issues as they arise which is why conversations about belonging are important, she argued.

“Organisations need to really take the concepts that we're talking about here in terms of belonging and in terms of diversity and inclusion seriously and strategise around it - recognise how it feeds into their profit and their bottom line and their success as a company,” said Morton-Young.

All too often it’s assumed that leaders have all the answers. The best organisations however, according to HR Lounge CEO and founder Angela O’Connor, are those that realise people at the top need development too.

“It’s really critical that [senior leaders] are in a position to have the right support alongside them…advising and challenging in equal measure. That’s key to changing things, because that's where the power is.”

To hear more of this discussion, you can watch this webinar on demand here.

For more detailed coverage of our most recent HR Lunchtime Debates subscribe to HR magazine – a write up of How can organisations create a sense of belonging in the workplace? appears in the May/June 2021 issue