Belonging Keynote with Yvette Pegues

Yvette Pegues was the keynote speaker for this year’s SLA conference. The idea behind the keynote was Belonging and how it fit in with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This was very much about everyone feeling included and a sense of belonging to an organization.

Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something. It is about taking diversity and inclusion to the next level. Belonging is about integrating everyone into the workplace through belonging. Pegues talked about Wellness Circles, which can be barriers to belonging. For example, if a person is not satisfied with their current and future financial situation that can be a barrier to belonging.

In order to work through some of the problems in Wellness Circles, people need to:

  • have courageous (difficult) conversations
  • demystify and de-stigmatize the benefits of therapy
  • ensure safety and privacy
  • ensure policies and procedures support belonging.

Yvette was very much about talking about the issues above in a positive way. She used the term courageous about conversations that could be difficult.

Belonging at work matters because it has a direct impact on the business. For example, if an employee is hired and doesn’t feel like they belong they will leave sooner than desired and the costs of training will be lost. That is a direct financial impact because someone didn’t feel like they belonged.

She has a series of strategies for facilitating belonging.

  • Employee Survey
    • collect information
    • analyze feedback
    • understand what employees are saying (and don’t dismiss)
    • act on feedback

People are a really important part of the company. Ensure your people can trust the process.

Facilitate Social Bonds

  • location
  • logistics
    • Are these things inclusive? Do people have to work extra hard to get into the building?
  • Relationship is where belonging lives.
  • Invite everyone even if a person always rejects overtures. They may have valid input or a different perspective. Everyone is worth listening to.

Trusted Relationships

  • mentoring,coaching, peer groups – is it intentional or happens on the fly?
    • assign people a mentor as soon as they come in
    • line up new people with someone in an affinity group so they can be introduced.

Don’t make new employees do the heavy lifting. Starting a new job is hard enough without having them have to introduce themselves, figure out how everything works and create a work-social life as well.

Intentional Inclusion

  • recognize and respond to exclusion in all of its forms

Dissolve Interpersonal Barriers

  • Get to know the team through storytelling
  • Ask someone how their weekend was

Clear/Consistent Vision/Mission

  • Significant and shared work that motivates
  • Many people want organizations that help in the community

I followed up the Keynote with a round table with Yvette. There was a discussion about mentoring and how that can help with belonging. We discussed mentoring and how mentoring could extend to members who may no longer be active in SLA or other organizations. The implication is that they may not feel appreciated and that is why they may no longer be active. In the round table there was a brief discussion of accessibility and reasonable accommodations in the workplace. One of the attendees provided a link to a helpful chart.

Yvette’s other website is Your Invisible Disability.