How Building A Culture of Diversity, Equity, & Belonging Builds Healthy Organizations
By: Chantel McHenry
Organizations with diverse teams experience more engagement, creativity, and retention. According to McKinsey, businesses run by culturally diverse leadership teams were more likely to develop new products than those with homogenous leadership. A different McKinsey study found that companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams—not only with respect to absolute representation but also of variety or mix of ethnicities —are 33 percent more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.
These statistics are hard to ignore as a strong case for improving your diversity initiatives, however, it’s not just in our best financial and performance-based interest to diversify our teams. As Christian leaders, our duty to pursue diversity and equality as part of our calling to love others as ourselves. But how do you set goals and get started with diversity efforts? At Vanderbloemen, we want to help you turn your goal of diversifying your staff into a tangible, achievable plan.
But before we make a plan, we must understand what diversity means.
Diversity is the presence of difference that may include race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, or political perspective.
Diverse doesn’t describe a person individually, but rather, how they fit into the collective whole. Each organization seeking diversity needs to look at what’s missing from their staff and seek to diversify in that area. Many organizations are currently pursuing diversity. However, hiring individuals with different backgrounds and cultures is only part of the puzzle.
While diversity alone may give someone a seat at a table, equity and creating an environment of belonging gets them involved. Having a diverse staff helps organizations receive input from different perspectives, allowing them to make decisions that represent and serve all of their staff members.
Once you achieve having a diverse team, how do you ensure their success?
Equity is the process of fairness. Equity ensures that the policies your organization implements promote justness and impartiality. It requires considering the needs of each person individually rather than treating everyone the same.
Equity recognizes that your staff members are not coming in with the same level of opportunities and experiences, and that to provide them equal chances of success, you must reach your hand down to help those who may need more from their leaders. To create equal opportunity, we must recognize that on a diverse staff, differences will exist, and it’s important to level the playing field for those who experience more barriers and inequities.
You can’t effectively address diversity and equity without also creating a sense of belonging for all staff members. A culture of belonging helps ensure that diverse team members actually feel and/or are welcomed and valued.
Creating a culture of belonging takes intentional effort to ensure that each team member feels included. It requires understanding cultures, needs, and interests outside of your own, and allowing people the opportunity to experience those differences comfortably. It means making space for individuals’ unique strengths and interests to shine. Culture starts from the top down, so to infiltrate your entire organization with a culture of belonging, you have to start at the top of the org chart to ensure the less represented voices are heard. For every member of your organization to feel heard, be comfortable, and bring their full self to the table, they need to have an advocate on the leadership team.
Implementing diversity, equity, and belonging in your organization will create a more diverse and inclusive environment that allows your organization to better serve its God-given purpose. However, without all three, your diversity efforts will be harder to uphold and the less represented members of your staff will not connect with your culture.
Why do Christian Organizations Need it?
The kingdom of God is made up of a diverse population. In heaven, different denominations, skin colors, languages, and backgrounds will be represented. Through our diversity consulting practice, we want to help you create organizations that reflect the kingdom of God and allow different voices to be heard.
We value kingdom diversity but we are not recommending that churches and Christian organizations affirm all beliefs. Instead, we are encouraging all Christian organizations to create a culture that allows all of your team members to bring their whole selves to work.
How does Vanderbloemen’s Diversity Consulting Practice Help?
Through our Diversity Consulting Practice, we want to make sure that you are not only taking steps toward diversity but that you are taking the right steps for your organization. Our coaching gives a plan to the idea, “let’s get more diverse.” Our diversity council will visit your organization, invest in your specific goals, look at your community, and help develop a unique plan that fits the needs of your organization and community.
If you’re unsure what step to take next, use our Diversity Readiness Tool to help assess where your organization is right now and what to focus on next. The best way to prepare for creating a diverse organization is to start having difficult conversations. We know it’s uncomfortable to unpack this complex issue, but you don’t have to navigate these waters alone.
At Vanderbloemen, we are passionate about staffing the church. We want to help you create a diverse organization that reflects the kingdom of God. Please reach out to us if you are interested in our Diversity Consulting Practice or if you have any questions.