According to , having employees with unique ideas and experiences drives innovation and profitability.

Diverse workforces are more engaged and that’s a real competitive advantage for companies.

“But we’re still not moving the needle enough,” says Pat Wadors, LinkedIn’s head of HR. She argues that diversity and inclusion are necessary but not sufficient for employee engagement — belonging is the missing part of the equation.

Only when we feel psychologically safe can we unleash our best selves, she says.

When we’re part of a team that values our opinion, we speak up and contribute more.

Alternatively, when we don’t feel like we belong, we lose productivity because we waste time worrying about it.

How to cultivate a culture of belonging

Here are a few concrete ways to help your employees feel a sense of belonging to your organization.

Ask employees to tell stories

Stories draw people into worlds other than their own which leads to understanding and empathy.

That’s why LinkedIn has challenged employees to tell their belonging moments.

“These beautiful, awkward, amazing conversations are now happening organically in the hallways,” says Pat Wadors.

From the marketer in an interracial marriage to the Muslim developer, employees are hiding their personal circumstances less and engaging with others more as a result.

Pay more attention to feelings: When candidates don’t see themselves in your marketing materials, they won’t feel understood.

Challenge yourself to listen better during interviews. Make sure you allow them to convey their best selves by being a good listener.

“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organization.”

Offer bias training

Kate Reilly reminds us that whether it’s deciding whom to interview, whom to hire, what compensation to give, or when to promote, unconscious bias can creep in at any stage.

To break the bias, LinkedIn is training employees at these decision points so that they can evaluate their assumptions in a safe environment and learn to adjust their behavior accordingly.

Track your progress

LinkedIn created an index to measure how employees experience diversity, inclusion and belonging at the company. Combining questions from its annual employee survey with new ones, the ‘DIBs Index’ is now used to help focus the company’s efforts around diversity, inclusion and belonging, and to track progress over time.

Linkedin research showed that two of the biggest drivers of employee engagement were belonging-related:

“I make a big effort to help others feel like they belong at LinkedIn,” and “Even when something negative happens I feel like I belong at LinkedIn.”

Watch Pat Wadors keynote:


Start by sharing a belonging moment of your own or by listening to someone else’s.


For more from Pat Wadors, check out Talent on Tap, a weekly series with Brendan Browne, Head of Talent and LinkedIn, break down some of the hottest topics, biggest challenges, and most enticing opportunities in the world of talent.