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ATD Blog

3 Ways to Foster Inclusion and Belonging at Scale

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Creating a comprehensive diversity and inclusion program is a top priority for companies across the globe. But how can talent management teams tailor inclusion programs to align with their organization’s values and needs? Let’s explore ways that leaders can help cultivate a sense of belonging among their employees with bespoke inclusion programs.

What Is Belonging?

Belonging is an important measure of workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). But what does belonging really mean? While it’s important to measure inclusion through surveys, belonging is first and foremost a feeling that comes from rallying around a powerful mission or shared set of values. Belonging is about building intentional connections, meaningful relationships, and a general feeling of cohesion between yourself and those you work with.

While most HR practitioners generally agree on the importance of fostering belonging in the workplace, the approach should be unique to each organization. Below we explore three ways to help you tailor your inclusion program to your organization’s culture.

Understand Your Demographic

The first step to tailoring an inclusion program is to understand who your employees are and what needs they have—keeping in mind that what works for one team may not be the case for others.

For example, in remote and hybrid environments as well as global workforces, technology can help foster collaboration and connection. However, where communication technology can be helpful in some companies, it might hinder a sense of belonging at others—particularly for workforces that aren’t bound to their computers.


This is why it’s critical to understand the wants and needs of your employees. And the best way to understand is to ask. Using employee engagement surveys is a great way to not only understand employee sentiment but also source new ideas and suggestions straight from the source.

Make Space for Hard Conversations

A side effect of having an empathetic and kind company culture is that tough conversations are sometimes glossed over. This is a missed opportunity to have productive discussions around issues that matter to the people at your company. Further, creating an environment that doesn’t encourage open conversations can inadvertently silo people who may have unpopular opinions and make them feel unwelcome at their own workplace.

If everybody is afraid to say something that may not go over well, it eliminates an opportunity to have constructive conversations. Create an environment that encourages vulnerability and makes space for difficult conversations.


While many inclusion practices strive to eliminate this culture of fear, certain practices and training can backfire and worsen the problem. To be truly effective, it’s critical to educate your workforce on unconscious biases and create a safe space to work through challenging issues as a team.

Collect All Perspectives

When building an inclusion program in the workplace, freelancers and remote workers are often left out. These contributors not only deserve to feel a sense of belonging when working for your organization, but also offer a unique perspective as employees who understand your culture but still maintain a sense of objectivity. These voices can also serve as an important gut-check on the external perception of your brand and culture.

There are many ways to cultivate a sense of belonging among gig workers and remote teams, such as including them in employee engagement surveys, inviting them to offsites, and encouraging coffee meetings with the rest of the team. Whatever your approach, don’t miss the opportunity to gather these valuable insights.

An inclusion program, just like every other aspect of employee engagement, is something that requires special attention and customization by talent management teams. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to refine your approach and consider ways to foster a deeper sense of belonging at your company.

About the Author

Sophia Lee is a writer for Culture Amp.

1 Comment
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Your insights have been proven true based on my experience in the DEI space. Thanks! Let's also remind everybody to plan AND act rather than plan AND continually delay. There is no perfect time to do the RIGHT THING.
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