Inclusion vs Belonging

inclusion /ɪnˈkluːʒ(ə)n/

noun the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.

belonging /bɪˈlɒŋɪŋ/

noun an affinity for a place or situation.

I wish to open the debate into the use of terms in our space regarding the replacement of Diversity and, specifically, Inclusion, for the term Belonging, in job titles, department names and thinking.

My concern about this, is the term Belonging is about how a person might feel, whereas Inclusion is about what people, structures and systems need to do. This is an important distinction.

The term Belonging, I argue, absolves people and organisations from taking responsibility for what needs to be done and places the onus on the individual regards to their interaction with where they work.

Some people are quite happy to go along to their workplace and be productive in a space where they feel included but they don’t feel the need to Belong at work. They may prefer to Belong at home with family, friends or even Belong in a solitary space. However, whatever their preference about Belonging, everyone should feel their values, difference and perspectives are respected in an Inclusive environment. A responsibility that lies with leadership.

As with all movements in Political Correctness, the move is normally around changing language in order to change our thought processes and subsequently modifying our behaviour. I worry that the phase to change the emphasis from Inclusion to Belonging is actually a subversive one, possibly unconsciously motivated, to undermine the work of D&I. As it’s not possible to call out something we might do unconsciously, I’m taking this opportunity to be the diverse voice and to call it out for what I believe it to be.

Whether D&I fatigue is setting in at your organisation or not, I would urge people not to be sucked into this change to using ‘Belonging’ instead of D&I, for the reasons I outlined.

I would suggest you shouldn’t look for a name change that will not only do very little but actually may detract from the core of the work we’re trying to achieve, instead, look at what might be causing fatigue and address that. D&I has enough trend-setting motivations inherent in the work itself, when done effectively, without the need for a rebrand.

Of course, as always, I advocate Cultural Intelligence, CQ (TM), as the academically proven way to move forward from awareness to successful tangible action with Inclusion. And if the people who wish to Belong can then feel that they do so, that’s great, equally, those who don’t want to, but are still valued, that’s the ideal outcome.

So, I say Inclusion, not Belonging, is the priority and that should remain the focus of job titles, department names and thinking.

As always, I invite your thoughts.

For more information on CQ (TM) check out my other blogs, my website unheardvoice.co.uk or culturalq.com