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ATD Blog

Start Now to Make Belonging Part of Your Culture

Thursday, December 21, 2023

We often think of organizational culture serving shareholders. But it’s so much more than that! It’s a willingness to embrace our fellow humans with all the vulnerabilities of sharing and co-creating.

Embarking on the Journey

Every organization knows that getting the right culture is key to success. Putting that into practice isn’t easy because we all have blind spots and biases.

Alida Miranda-Wolff, a strategist and communicator, explains her story of inclusion, or lack thereof, in her book Cultures of Belonging: Building Inclusive Organizations That Last.

Alida isn’t just a White Hispanic cisgender woman who has navigated several careers and organizational cultures. She’s also a DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging) practitioner with a mission to help the world become a place of belonging.

As such, her book blends her story and learnings with practical insights on how to embark on the journey to create a culture of belonging.

A healthy culture includes having a sense of belonging, because connectivity is one of our core human needs. Just like psychologist Abraham Maslow prioritized belonging as a key human need, organizations must honor our humanness.

The more we are part of something greater than ourselves, the more fulfilled we feel. As a result, we naturally nurture reciprocity and shared values.

But this is a journey, and there’s a meandering path to follow with its ups and downs.


In her book, Alida refers to the Path, defined by diversity experts Frederick A. Miller and Judith H. Katz. The key to creating the right culture is to adapt and flex your strategies along the path. Only then can you support people’s emotions and resistance to change.

Key Strategies for Each Stage Must Honor the Level of Change People Are Ready For

  • Stage 1: Exclusive and passive club. Build the need by showing teams how everyone can personally benefit from inclusion.
  • Stage 2: Symbolic difference. Support newly recruited minorities as pioneers and champions of change.
  • Stage 3: Critical mass. Coach your leaders on role modeling the right behaviors.
  • Stage 4: Welcoming. Share success stories of diverse teams to keep motivating those still lagging.
  • Stage 5: Inclusive. Constantly check in on behaviors and bottom-up feedback.

Sustaining a Culture of Belonging

Diversity and inclusion aren’t just the backbone alongside the five features of a high-performing team. In addition to openness, trust, commitment, goals, and structure, inclusion gives us meaning.

In other words, by ensuring others feel included, we, by definition, include ourselves.


To implement this, listen to Alida Miranda-Wolff explain how to put the right building blocks in place in her webinar as well as how to sustain the culture of belonging.

You’ll learn that it isn’t just about managing change. It’s also about getting the right processes for recruitment, onboarding, and retention.

Furthermore, you’ll need the three tenets of leadership development to support your leaders so that they, in turn, uphold and sustain the culture.

Sustain a Culture of Belonging With the Three Tenets

  • Book club learning for personal development: Book clubs aren’t just the new corporate classroom, they are also a framework for nurturing belonging through open discussion.
  • Emotional recognition to help people find meaning in their work: Create a shared “emotions” language and reflect together on behavior versus impact.
  • Healing spaces to reframe. We all have past trauma, and organizations can serve as powerful agents of social justice. They can also hold healing spaces where people reframe their experiences.

Making Your Own New Possibilities Through the Culture of Belonging

Building the right culture goes beyond implementing legal rules and processes. You need to support the culture change by responding to people’s different needs along the distinct phases. Most importantly, this is both a cognitive and affective journey.

And don’t forget to listen to the webinar for practical examples of process steps for your organization to start the journey of supporting people’s mental well-being.

About the Author

Anne Duvaux is a neuroscience leadership coach who was previously HR director focusing on leadership and development as well as coaching. In a past lifetime she was a chartered engineer and is also multilingual having lived in 9 countries and 13 cities. As an Associate Certified Coach with the ICF and almost 25 years’ experience setting up, partnering and leading teams across Europe and Asia in both corporates and early-stage companies, Anne understands how to navigate the challenges of leadership. Today, as a writer and avid reader, she continues to support people around the world with the wisdom of generations of books.

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