We’re making a change here at Network of Executive Women. Moving forward, we’ll be using the acronym DEI&B rather than DEI when we talk about our area of expertise. DEI&B stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
The language we use – what is considered appropriate and what is not, what is in and out of vogue – is constantly changing, and how we speak to diversity in our workplaces is no exception. At NEW, we know this challenge well! So when we make changes to the way we speak to our partners and members, we don’t make those decisions lightly.
Let’s talk about why we’re making this change – and what belonging really means to the DEI&B conversation.
What is DEI, really?
To some, adding ‘belonging’ to the acronym ‘DEI’ may seem redundant. Isn’t Belonging already lumped into the umbrella under Inclusion? Aren’t they just two words for the same idea? Not necessarily.
Let’s break down what the acronym means in our workplaces as it stands.
Diversity means ensuring a diversity of people - of genders, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, economic backgrounds – the list goes on. Ensuring our board rooms and offices don’t represent one slim slice of the population at work is key to this tenet.
Equity means equality for those diverse individuals at work. It means each and every person, regardless of who they are, has an equal opportunity to succeed and grow, and an equal share of the voice in the room.
Inclusion means making sure those diverse individuals are in the room in the first place! A diverse organization where only a small subset of employees has a voice, all from similar backgrounds, is not practicing inclusion.
So when Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are being practiced at an organization, it has a diverse makeup, each employee has equal opportunities and treatment to their colleagues, and no one is excluded from the conversation for who they are.
Why add belonging?
So what’s missing from this conversation that Belonging brings to the table? The other three pieces of this acronym address only what the organization is doing to further an equitable workplace. Admirable as that is, whether it works is missing from the conversation.
Simply put: if the people in the room don’t feel they belong in that room, all the DEI efforts in the world fall flat.
How do we practice belonging? By making sure we’re taking the temperature of our efforts. By talking to employees. By encouraging them to speak openly about their experiences, and giving them safe spaces where they can feel comfortable to be their authentic selves.
A word on accessibility, which is also a key part of the DEI&B equation – so much so that the acronym ‘DEIBA’ has started to be occasionally used. It is of key importance to us at NEW to get accessibility right. We’re doing the hard work to make sure our offerings are accessible to everyone, and we have accessibility firmly on our radar.
DEI&B and NEW
At NEW, DEI&B is at the core of who we are. Our mission of Advancing All Women can’t move forward without hard work to get women their share of voice, equitable treatment, and a seat at the table. But it’s only when women feel they belong at that table just as much as anyone else that we’ve really done our jobs.