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DEI: Creating a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

Apr 28, 2022
by Sydney Frenkel
DEI: Creating a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

The world has gone through unprecedented change in the last two years, and it shows in our daily work lives. Organizations are beginning to recognize the importance of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) now more than ever. While many companies have spoken out about social movements, companies must hire DEI staff and invest in programming to tackle injustice(s). The stakes have never been higher: the workforce of the future is more diverse than ever, and the coming generations place a high value on company values when choosing where to work.

Organizations actively pursue diverse representation in the workplace, but this does not guarantee that all employees will feel included. Creating a sense of belonging — an employee’s perception of acceptance within a given group — is a critical component of workplace inclusion. Aaron Sines, Big Drop’s Vice President of Business Development, stated the following:

Diverse backgrounds bring diverse perspectives and experiences while supporting organizational resilience. Attracting and retaining top talent in today’s job market requires a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment. DEI is not only a differentiator but is also a competitive advantage in a conscious climate where clients want to work with vendors who share their diversity, equity, and inclusion values.” 


Gartner research shows that organizations with sustainable DEI practices demonstrate a 20% increase in inclusion, which corresponds to greater on-the-job effort and intent to stay, as well as high employee performance. So the question becomes: what steps should companies be taking to cultivate a culture of belonging?

For employees to feel included, they must believe the organization cares about them and their demographic identification. Here are a few suggestions:

Eliminate “outsiderness”

Despite progress in DEI, many employees continue to feel like outsiders in the workplace, leading them to suppress the aspects of themselves that set them apart from their colleagues. Feeling like an outsider is a negative experience and a cognitive distraction that impairs focus and performance.

Strive for a workplace culture that recognizes and values individuality. Demonstrate concern for all employees and make check-ins a regular occurrence. Support, understanding, and trust in the workplace all reduce the likelihood of an individual feeling like an outsider.

Demonstrate care through benefits and initiatives

Benefits that apply to all demographic groups, such as flexible work schedules and emotional wellness programs, show employees that you care about their individual needs and demands both inside and outside of the workplace. These gestures of gratitude contribute to a feeling of belonging. According to Gartner, inclusive benefits and initiatives can boost feelings of belonging by up to 38%.

Promoting diversity in team-building and holding events to highlight underrepresented groups (ex: Women’s History Month) are effective ways to foster a sense of belonging. Providing benefits and initiatives that recognize employees’ unique contributions to the company demonstrates that business success is directly linked to whether or not employees feel accepted and belong in the company.

Bring everyone on board

Seven out of ten employees say their company fails to inform them of opportunities to promote inclusion in their daily work. Make everyone responsible for achieving DEI goals daily to better communicate genuine support for the idea of belonging.

Encourage employees to value what each person brings to the table by caring for one another, advocating for everyone’s voice to be heard, and investing in the growth and development of their coworkers. Incorporate employee feedback into organizational values to demonstrate to individuals that they play a meaningful, equitable role in creating a more inclusive workplace.

DEI at Big Drop

Big Drop is a New York web design agency committed to providing our valued employees with an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace in which all full-time, part-time, and contract employees, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or identity, education or disability, feel valued and respected. We are committed to a non-discriminatory approach and provide equal opportunity for both employment and advancement within each of our divisions. We value and respect diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard. James Weiss, Big Drop’s Senior Director, says:

We’ve been able to witness tremendous growth as a direct result of our approach to creating as inclusive of a working environment as possible – you could say that it’s inherently part of what makes our team so effective. Like any company, we are only as good as our people, and the fact that we are able to draw upon experiences and perspectives from the different demographics that represent us is arguably one of our most important competitive advantages. In fact, it’s troubling to think about how much progress we wouldn’t have made if it wasn’t for our conscious efforts to build such a diverse team, and I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve because of it.”

When it comes down to DEI, Big Drop strives to:

  • Connect diversity, inclusion, and equality directly to our core values.
  • Acknowledge and dismantle any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services, and continually update and report organization progress.
  • Explore potential underlying, unquestioned assumptions that may interfere with inclusiveness.
  • Advocate for and support board-level thinking about how systemic inequities impact our organization’s work, and how best to address that in a way that is consistent with our mission.
  • Commit time and resources to expand more diverse leadership within our staff.
  • Lead with respect and tolerance. We expect all employees to embrace this notion and to express it in workplace interactions and through everyday practices.

Big Drop abides by the following action items to help promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace:

  • Pursue cultural competency throughout our organization by creating substantive learning opportunities and formal, transparent policies.
  • Generate and aggregate quantitative and qualitative research related to equity
    to make incremental, measurable progress toward the visibility of our diversity, inclusion, and equality efforts. 
  • Improve our cultural leadership pipeline by creating and supporting programs and policies that foster leadership that reflects the diversity of American society.
  • Pool resources and expand offerings for underrepresented constituents by connecting with other digital agencies committed to diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Advocate for public and private-sector policy that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equality. Challenge systems and policies that create inequality, oppression, and disparity.
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