Belonging Toolkit

Belonging Toolkit

What is belonging?

Cultivating and building a culture of belonging encompasses all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion. To put it quite simply, if employees, staff and students feel that they belong in the workplace and at school, it means you are working within and implementing effective diverse, inclusive and equitable practices. Even better, if people in your organisations can verbalise why and how they belong, you are building a great culture! Equally, DEI work is never complete; the challenge and opportunity is to create a long-term culture of belonging so that every person – past, present and future – that enters your organisation and school (and even your home!) feels they belong.

What does it mean to ‘belong’?

Good question. Employees are more than their job title. Students are more than their results. Parents and carers are more than responsible adults. To belong means individuals feel seen, heard and appreciated. They feel human and are treated like humans too. Nurturing a culture of belonging can also be seen as the ultimate result of successful wellbeing strategies in the workplace: if people feel happy, respected, purposeful and that they matter – they are likely to experience a strong sense of belonging too.

How do I create a culture of belonging?

Another great question! To start with, in the words of Simon Sinek, we should view cultivating workplace cultures as an infinite process: creating a culture of belonging is ever changing and ever growing – just like the nature of work and school. If you consciously regard building a culture of belonging as an ongoing process and a continuous strategy, it is likely to actively feature in all parts of work and workplace culture.

  1. DEI Toolkits. It is recommended that you use all other DE&I toolkits on the DiverseEd website to build a culture of belonging. Pragmatically, create a long-term strategy and ‘deep dive’ into different aspects of creating a culture of belonging, depending on the individual needs and feedback from your organisation (for example, you might tackle flex and anti-racism first, after consulting with stakeholders in your organisation).
  2. Representation matters. When building teams, recruiting and selecting curriculum material, ensure you are bringing diverse voices to the forefront. This may sound obvious, but it is often an underestimated (yet crucial) part of DEI strategy. If people have representative role models with shared experiences and values, they are more likely to feel they belong in the workplace.
  3. Listen. Create spaces and time to listen to your staff and students. Take the conversation beyond task driven activities and get to know them as people. Championing diversity does not just mean championing a protected characteristic; it means valuing the whole person and their ongoing lived experiences. For example, prioritise belonging in your training and development; consider times in the school and working day that could be reconfigured to get to know one another: this could be lunchtimes or dedicated ‘open door policy’ times too.
  4. Environment. Create an environment that is inclusive and fun! Go beyond displays and think of school and work as ‘home from home’. How can you make your employees feel comfortable and welcome in their place of work? Ask them.
  5. Professional relationships. An often underestimated or overused initiative, but effectively creating workplace coaches or buddies can build positive and trusting relationships in the workplace. Effective training and CPD in coaching and mentoring not only up-skills your staff, but helps nurture positive connection in the workplace too.
  6. Empathy, trust and compassion. Three key leadership traits, which will benefit all employees. Firstly, outline in your culture and environment that you’re all on the same team – you trust, champion, respect and support one another. Success, results and personal development are heavily rooted in trust in the workplace. Creating a culture where empathy and compassion are key features in all areas of work and school (from HR policy to safeguarding and curriculum strategy) highlights that your people matter and feel appreciated and respected.

The Diverse Educators’ Belonging Toolkit

We are collating a growing bank of resources to help you nurture and cultivate a culture of belonging in your workplace settings. Here are some questions to reflect on:
  • How strong is my sense of belonging in my workplace?
  • How do we create and maintain a culture of belonging for all of our stakeholders?
  • How do we know who feels seen, heard and appreciated?
  • How has our strategy for belonging been designed and how is it evolving?
  • How is our strategy for belonging communicated?

Articles

BBC – The Death of Mandatory Fun in the Office

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Coqual – Power of Belonging Key Findings

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Entrain – 6 Ways to Foster Belonging in the Workplace

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Harvard Business Review – What Does It Take to Build a Culture of Belonging?

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Gail Capper and Debbie McVitty – Belonging, inclusion and mental health are all connected

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Psychology Today – The Science of School Belonging

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The Conversation: Teachers play a key role in helping students feel they ‘belong’ at school

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Blogs

Andrea Lipton – Cultivating Belonging in the Era of COVID-19: Putting the Three A’s of Inclusion to Work

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Gemma Hargraves – Belonging, safely

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Jennifer Johnson – The Cure for What Ails Us: Reigniting a Healthy Sense of Well-Being and Belonging in Schools

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Meirion Lewis – My Journey to Belonging

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Teaching Matters blog – Mini-Series: An Introduction to Belonging

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Books

Browne, Brene. Atlas of the Heart

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Daisley, Bruce. The Joy Of Work

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Huffington, Arianna. Thrive

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Frost, Stephen and Alidinia, Raafi-Karim. Building an Inclusive Organization: Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce

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Sinek, Simon. Find Your Why

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Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last

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Sinek, Simon. Start With Why

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Thomas, Aisha. Representation Matters

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Unerman, Sue, Jacob, Kathryn and Edwards, Mark. Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work

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Podcasts

A Bit of Optimism – Simon Sinek

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Eat Sleep Work Repeat – Bruce Daisley

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Enchantment with Chloe Valdary

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The Diary of A CEO x Bruce Daisley

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Work Life – Adam Grant

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Resources

Facing History and Ourselves

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PSHE Association

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Red Cross

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TeachWire

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TES

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Worth-It

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TED Talks

Ava Prendergast – Belonging in this Big World

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Caroline Clark – The Essential Power of Belonging

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Jacqueline Duong – It's Not THEM, It's YOU - Belonging As An Ability

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Krys Burnette – The Future of Work - A Place of Belonging

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Laura Ramirez – How To Inspire The Art of Belonging

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Videos

Belonging – An Award Winning Short Film

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Building a Belonging Classroom

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The Diary of A CEO x Mo Gawdat

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The Diary of A CEO x Simon Sinek

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What does a school look like when belonging works?

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Why Belonging at Work Matters

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