If you are having trouble viewing our site, or need any other assistance, please call 800-326-2289

Beyond Diversity and Inclusion: How to Foster Belonging on Your Campus

Is your school lacking diversity and inclusion? Do you feel you belong on your campus? Attend the NCCWSL workshop Beyond Diversity and Inclusion: The Power of Belonging to experience the power of belonging and learn how to bring it to your school.

Despite the societal push for diversity, workplaces are more segregated than they were 40 years ago. We see that segregation in colleges and universities, too. Look around your student union, dining hall, and library. Do you see groups of people sitting with others who look similar or different?

Group of young women conference attendees.

Humans have an innate desire to belong. Belonging is strongly linked to happiness and well-being and also is directly correlated to academic performance and health. Campus initiatives that promote belonging are a good start, but more needs to be done to build bridges across difference.

Our NCCWSL workshop uses Harvard Business Review research to explore the power of belonging. Here’s a sneak peek of tips you’ll walk away with to foster belonging on your campus.

1. Introduce someone as a whole person, not just by their roles and responsibilities.

Have you ever felt disempowered because of your status or title? We have too. Remember that regardless of age, title, or position, everyone has something to contribute. The next time you introduce someone, try sharing their name and an interesting fact about them.

2. Ask people how they feel — and genuinely listen.

Who are you reaching out to and how do you engage them? To build connections, check in with different types of people to understand what they are experiencing. Fostering belonging can be as simple as reaching out to an acquaintance who’s different from you. Ask them to share their story and take the time to actively listen to them. You will likely be surprised by what they share.

3. Solicit input from everyone in meetings and in class and don’t speak over them.

Be conscious of power dynamics to make sure all voices are heard. In group projects or student organization meetings, be mindful of who hasn’t shared their ideas and invite them to contribute. Consider introverts in your group by sending the meeting agenda ahead of time so people can come prepared.

4. Delegate tasks in a way that demonstrates trust.

It can be difficult to build bridges across difference. Creating trust with people who have different identities and backgrounds is a small step to making people feel like they belong. As a campus leader, set clear expectations before delegating tasks; resist micromanaging; and, most importantly, verbally tell the people you work with that you trust them.

5. Pay attention during meetings and avoid distractions.

Many of us have had the experience of sharing an idea with a group and having that idea be ignored only for someone else to share the same idea 10 minutes later and have it be well received. Being present and giving everyone at the table your full attention is one way to avoid accidentally disempowering people.

Attend our interactive NCCWSL workshop Beyond Diversity and Inclusion: The Power of Belonging to expand your global diversity and inclusion network and learn how to foster belonging on your campus.

This post was written by workshop presenters Sophia Brown, grants associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation (@sobrown24_7) and Paige Robnett, project manager at Cook Ross Inc. (@perobnett).

By:    May 17, 2018