When we talk about the benefits of diversity and inclusion, the discussion usually turns to the value of differing perspectives and expertise. A recent article on [email protected] titled “Diversity Isn’t Enough: Cultivating a Sense of Belonging” suggests that what we need is to create a sense of belonging that goes beyond being included.
The Wharton article shares highlights from a Leading Diversity lecture series. Panelists there shared the view that “a sense of belonging means that people can bring their full selves to work, and not feel like they’re a different person there than at home.”
Belonging leads to interaction leads to collaboration
But that sense of belonging, or of being able to be one’s authentic self, is only the first step toward companies realizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion. For organizations to benefit from diverse perspectives, people have to be comfortable enough with each other to collaborate.
In Tribe’s nationwide research with employees of large companies, respondents said they’re more comfortable sharing ideas or insights with employees once they feel a human connection. So besides feeling like they’re being their authentic selves, they also need to engage authentically with other people.
Face-to-face — or visible expertise
Employees say they feel most comfortable collaborating with those they’ve met face to face. A few minutes of idle small talk, the shared experience of a meal together or even being on opposite ends of a video conference can help build the interactions that form the foundation of an ability to collaborate.
Beyond those social interactions, employees need to be aware of their colleagues’ various expertise and of the work they’re doing in the organization. By showcasing the innovative work that’s being done across the geography of your company, you can improve collaboration not just within one office but between all your offices. (For more on how to make employees’ expertise more visible, you might like this post on Boosting Collaboration with a Culture of Respect for Expertise.)
When we make it easy for employees to feel comfortable sharing their ideas, we’ll see one of the most important benefits of diversity and inclusion: collaboration that leads to innovation.
Interested in improving your workforce’s ability to collaborate? Tribe can help.