In the bustling corridors of a tech startup, Ana, a talented software engineer, often found herself feeling like an outsider. Despite her skill and dedication, subtle signals from her colleagues and management made her feel unwelcome. It wasn’t until the company’s new CEO implemented a robust inclusion and belonging strategy that Ana’s experience transformed. The CEO’s initiatives not only made Ana feel valued and heard but also propelled the company’s innovation and productivity to new heights. This story, mirrored in many workplaces, highlights the critical importance of fostering inclusion and belonging in the workplace.

Inclusion and belonging are more than just buzzwords; they are essential components of a thriving, innovative, and productive workplace. Research has consistently shown that when employees feel included and that they belong, they are more engaged, motivated, and committed to their organization. According to Dr. Bernardo Ferdman, an expert in diversity and inclusion, “When people feel they belong, they are more likely to contribute their best work and are more engaged in their roles.”

The Importance of Inclusion and Belonging

Creating a culture of inclusion and belonging is not just about doing the right thing; it’s about driving better business outcomes. A study by Deloitte found that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments. Furthermore, companies with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes .

June is a significant month for promoting inclusion and belonging, as it marks both Juneteenth and LGBTQ+ Pride Month. These observances remind us of the historical struggles for freedom and equality and the ongoing need to fight for the rights and recognition of marginalized groups. Celebrating these events within organizations can foster a deeper sense of inclusion and respect for diversity among employees.

Actions Leaders Can Take

Creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels they belong requires intentional effort from leadership. Here are actionable steps leaders can take to foster inclusion and belonging in their organizations:

1. Listen and Learn: Conduct regular listening sessions and surveys to understand the experiences and needs of all employees. Use this feedback to inform policies and initiatives.

2. Educate and Train: Provide ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) training for all employees, especially leaders. This training should cover unconscious bias, cultural competence, and inclusive leadership.

3. Celebrate Diversity: Acknowledge and celebrate cultural events and heritage months such as Juneteenth and Pride Month. This not only honors diverse backgrounds but also educates the broader workforce.

4. Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs: Establish programs that support underrepresented employees’ career development. Mentorship and sponsorship can help bridge gaps in opportunity and visibility within the organization.

5. Inclusive Policies and Practices: Review and revise company policies to ensure they support inclusion and equity. This includes equitable hiring practices, flexible work arrangements, and comprehensive benefits that cater to diverse needs.

6. Diverse Leadership: Strive for diversity at all levels of leadership. Diverse leaders bring varied perspectives and are more likely to advocate for inclusive practices.

7. Measure and Report: Set clear DEIB goals and measure progress regularly. Transparency in reporting can build trust and accountability within the organization.

8. Promote Psychological Safety: Encourage a culture where employees feel safe to speak up, make mistakes, and challenge the status quo. Recognize and reward behaviors that contribute to a psychologically safe environment.

9. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Support the formation of ERGs to provide a platform for employees to connect, share experiences, and drive DEIB initiatives.

10. Inclusive Communication: Use inclusive language in all communications and ensure that internal messaging reflects the organization’s commitment to DEIB.


The journey toward a truly inclusive and belonging-focused workplace is ongoing and requires sustained effort and commitment from leadership. By prioritizing inclusion and belonging, organizations can create environments where all employees feel valued and empowered to contribute their best. As Ana’s story illustrates, when employees feel included and that they belong, the entire organization benefits from enhanced innovation, productivity, and overall success. As Dr. Bernardo Ferdman aptly puts it, “Inclusion is not just about being invited to the party; it’s about being asked to dance.” By embracing this ethos, leaders can drive meaningful change and ensure their organizations thrive in today’s diverse and dynamic world. Please reach out if we can be of any help in making your organization a place where everyone feels like they belong.