Beyond Catered Events And Preaching To The Choir!

By Seema

Currently, diversity and inclusion is one of the top ten business priorities at the C-Suite level for 75% of organizations. Having been in this space for over a decade now, I recognize that this is at the very least a step in the right direction. But in reality, practitioners are tasked with “fixing” diversity and inclusion for entire organizations and are incentivized to show progress quickly, which supports more short-term quick-fix type solutions. Therefore, we see our social media feeds inundated with event photos (the cooler the better), with a few selected internal influencers promoting specific messaging and quotas for the company.

One go-to solution that organizations support across the board are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are volunteer-led groups, funded by an executive, and typically aligned around shared characteristics like ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or veteran status. Their purpose is to promote diversity and inclusion, support with recruiting/attracting more of their kind, and attracting employee volunteers by promoting opportunities for professional growth and development.

But let’s pause for a brief second and ask ourselves the question

What is the problem for which ERGs became the solution? Are we addressing that fundamental issue?

These ERGs exist because if you are a woman or an underrepresented minority, you may need your own space within this org to Belong. In other words, this means that essentially the everyday regular workplace Belongs by default to the able-bodied caucasian, straight, cisgender, man. Something to think about… 

What if, rather than silo-ing people into volunteer groups based on characteristics beyond their control, we start thinking about a day in the not-so-distant future where we will ask,

What would it take to design a workplace where everyone Belongs?

This is the workplace we envision. This is the work that we at Square Circle are proud to do and the question we help organizations answer. While in the interim, well-run ERGs can help move in the right direction, at Square Circle we enable forward-thinking organizations to Redesign Belonging. 

We believe that:

“Belonging in the workplace can be achieved when an individual can bring her authentic self into a context where she is accepted, valued and can thrive”

Imagine assessing Belonging at your workplace and knowing that your workplace is fully integrated and that everyone feels accepted, valued and can thrive! Now, that’s something that would be welcome in my social media feed.