To belong: To be connected to. To be affiliated with. To be a member. To be understood. To be accepted. To be included.
When the Stonewall riots took place fifty years ago in New York City, they were sparked by systematic acts of exclusion. The police had been conducting regular raids on gay bars and the one in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 was a breaking point. The police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and, among other things including injuring patrons, arrested “anyone not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing.”
The span of 50 years has brought much positive change and understanding. There are now clothing makers like Primary that make gender-neutral clothing easier, and I recently saw a glossary of gender identification terms. I was happy to learn some new ones. I am cisgender, by the way, which means I most closely identify with the sex I was born with: female.
I suppose you can find a sense of belonging in two ways: through what you hate or what you love. But hate is insatiable and shuts down our capacity to expand. Understanding and curiosity are how we get somewhere new. They are the antidotes to judgment. They lead to love by taking away the fear that drives people to separate the world into the “good” of familiarity and the “bad” of the things not understood. And we need to get somewhere new in life and in business.
Change is the only constant, and if we want that change to be constructive, it requires new ideas and perspectives. I tell my two young girls that if everyone was just like them the world would be boring. So would business. It would also be less successful. A 2015 McKinsey study showed that from a financial performance standpoint companies with more diversity were “35% more likely to have returns above their respective national industry medians.”
I’ve always believed that what’s good for people is inherently good for business. What’s good for people is to feel as though they belong to their workplace communities. When we belong, we feel comfortable sharing our ideas. We feel more connected to the people we sit next to every day. And we feel more empowered to disagree. Belonging requires understanding, though.
For Pride Month 2019, we’re focused on belonging through fluency, because if we can talk about it we have a better shot at understanding it. (Big thanks to the InkHouse design team for all of the visuals!):
The InkHouse journey to inclusion is nowhere near done, but we’re committed to it, and to building our community that will make it possible. We’ll be wearing our pins with pride this year to celebrate the many gorgeous ways of being.
Beth is the CEO of InkHouse, which she co-founded in 2007 and has grown into one of the top ranked agencies in the country. Beth’s been recognized as one of the Top Women in PR by PR News, the Top 25 Innovators by The Holmes Report and as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth believes that shared values, and the freedom to create are the foundations of all meaningful work. She brings this philosophy to building a culture of creative progress at InkHouse.