In early April, I had the privilege of attending the 2019 Othering & Belonging Conference in Oakland, CA, a three-day event dedicated to exploring this complex question:

“How do we make belonging real?”

The program was powerful. Enlightening, despairing, inspiring, engaging and deeply informative.

 
“What if I don’t actually want to be included in the system, community or workplace that was created without my input?” asked a young person who identifies as male, gay, Latino and Lakota.
 
He added: “What might I have to compromise, hide or cover up about my identity to be included?”
 
Inclusion and Belonging
 
I used to think about these terms as synonymous, but in my experiences as an executive hiring coach, I see clear distinctions when business and organization leaders strive to diversify their teams.
 
The more common and less effective approach:

Evolve HR recruitment and retention efforts so that all people will feel like they are included in the existing workplace cultures and systems.

Less common, but more meaningful and lasting:

Evolve company-wide culture and systems, ensuring diverse voices are at the design table, so that all people experience the feeling of belonging in a workplace everyone helped to create.

What are your thoughts on inclusion versus belonging?

Disability and Belonging

All of the conference presentations were moving, but it was disability rights advocate and lawyer, Haben Girma, who shared her story and changed my perspective in so many important ways.
 
Haben is the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, and President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. Today she travels the world consulting and public speaking, a talented storyteller who helps people frame difference as an asset.
 
Prepare to laugh, cry and inhale insight during Haben’s talk, which culminates in a compelling Q+A with audience members who join her on stage:

 

In solidarity,

Founder & CEO, ProsperCity

Photo caption: ‘Bridging Generations’ panel with Indigenous leaders Casey Camp Horinek (l) and  Thomas Tonatiuh Lopez (r). Credit: Haas Institute

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