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Home » Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in a VUCA environment

Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in a VUCA environment

Article By Parul Goplani, ACMP ANZ Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Lead ; Editor: Kate Norbury – ACMP ANZ DIB 2IC


Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance ~ Verna Myers

According to LinkedIn’s 2024 Most In-demand Skills, the top skill of the moment is adaptability, and it comes as no surprise. With the world becoming more dynamic and interconnected, managing change within the workplace seems more and more complex. As organisations evolve, it is imperative that our people feel connected and can adapt to the changes to come. As such, fostering environments that are diverse, inclusive and foster a sense of belonging in our people is crucial to the long-term success of our people and by extension our organisational efforts.

Understanding the difference between diversity, inclusion and belonging

Diversity is associated with the differences among individuals. Organisations frequently focus on age, race, ethnicity, gender, disability profile and LGBTQIA+ representation to name but a few. Some other, fresher, forms of diversity that are equally as vital, albeit untargeted in organisations, include diversity in thought, personality, affinity and other life experiences.

The relationship between diversity and innovation has been long established, helping organisations better understand the needs of their clients and customers, learn and apply market trends and increasing problem-solving capabilities. In essence, diversity can enrich changes within an organisation, like a kaleidoscope of perspectives coming together to form a picture.

Inclusion is the art of harnessing the presence of differences within an organisation to create an environment in which individuals feel valued, respected, and supported. The mere presence of diverse people does not fully activate an environment where everyone can contribute. Inclusive practices involve developing an environment where everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources.

By engaging all stakeholders early and actively, inclusion can be established during the management of change. This provides a platform for employees to embrace change initiatives more readily, contributing insights and collaborating towards shared goals.

Many initiatives associated with change fall when the change initiative transitions from “project” to “business as usual”. The journey from project-based ownership and accountability of an initiative to business wide is one that has kept many a change manager awake at night.

Belonging relates to the emotional and psychological aspects of connection and acceptance. To feel like you are an integral part of the organisation, contribute meaningfully and be yourself at work. A sense of belonging enriches levels of employee commitment, loyalty and willingness to go above and beyond within the organisation.

Those who feel this sense of belonging are more committed to the benefits that are to be realised through change initiatives and more likely to take ownership of the change, embrace accountability, and adapt to changes with resilience and optimism.

Implications in VUCA environments

Although a sense of belonging is individual in experience, organisations can make concerted efforts to increase their organisational diversity and inclusive practice. Some of the positive effects of this in our efforts to manage change in VUCA organisations includes:

  • Increased employee adaptability, innovation and experiences.
  • Increased engagement and stakeholder participation in change initiatives.
  • Open communication channels within the organisation.
  • Increased retention of valuable employees

In conclusion, diversity, inclusion, and belonging are interconnected concepts that play a significant role in change management processes. By prioritizing these principles, organisations can create environments where all individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best work.

Former Inclusion Strategist at Netflix, Verna Myers, has been quoted saying: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance’. To extend this a little further; ‘Diversity may be an invitation to the party, ad Inclusion may be the invitation to dance’… but belonging? That’s getting to pick the music!