Monday is Labor Day and I wanted to think about labor in terms of the labor of love that is also known as fostering Belonging. Fostering belonging is a labor of love because it acts like being intentional. It sounds like telling someone how much you value them. It looks like having someone’s back. And most importantly, fostering belonging is a labor of love because it feels like being an essential member of a community, the way you are in this Keeping It Real with Dr. Anita community. Your membership in this community is essential to me and I appreciate your support and dedication as engaged supporters of my voice in the Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging space.
In the workplace, I often facilitate an exercise that describes belonging in terms of what it acts, sounds, looks, and feels like because I firmly believe that if we can explain belonging in the workplace, we can attain belonging in the workplace. So, let’s break each aspect of Belonging down.
Belonging acts like being intentional. This could include behaviors such as intentionally expanding your typical circle of folks – for a meeting, for a water-cooler chat, for a lunch or after-work get-together. Intentionality takes awareness, so that we’re not just operating in our “standard operating procedure” but thinking more carefully and intentionally about how we want to act and with whom we want to interact. It's far too easy to stay in our comfort zone – socially, emotionally and intellectually. But our comfort zone may not be comfortable for others and if we truly want to create an environment where people feel a sense of belonging, then any one person’s comfort zone won’t work – we all need to expand our zones to be more comfortable with variation and difference. This is how we enrich our lives – personally and professionally.