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Beyond diversity: How firms are cultivating a sense of belonging

Submitted by on May 3, 2019 – 6:00 amNo Comment | 121 views

In January, senior executives at Citigroup shared personal stories with the entire global organization, livestreamed in 96 countries. One told how, earlier in her career, she had routinely avoided revealing that she never went to college. She said that any time a group conversation turned to ‘what school did you go to,’ she dodged answering or changed the subject.

“You would not believe how much of a [positive] impact that [story] had on the people in the audience,” said Sam Lalanne, a senior vice president of Global Diversity and Talent Management at Citi. He noted that anecdotes — especially from high-level people — about the struggle to fit in, or to be their authentic selves at work, can be a powerful tool to nurture a sense of belonging among an entire workforce.

Another story Lalanne re-told came from a senior executive who was of Southeast Asian descent. In an earlier job, that individual felt that he stuck out like a sore thumb among his white colleagues. His decision was to “own it,” said Lalanne: he grew a very large beard, rendering him even more noticeable. “That was reaffirmation for him that he belongs.”

Increasingly, companies are adopting the stance that diversity and inclusion isn’t enough: there must also be a sense of belonging for all employees. Lalanne referred to belonging as “the evolution of the journey.” But what is it exactly, and how can companies achieve it? At the recent “Fostering Belonging at Work” event at Wharton, which was part of the Leading Diversity lecture series, he and other panelists from prominent firms discussed their ongoing efforts.

Source: World Economic Forum. Read full article

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