Neuroscience of Leadership Speaker Trainer

Cultivating Belonging Is the Ultimate Goal of DEI

When implemented to meet quotas, DEI efforts pit one group against another and create more divisions.

Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion, or DEI, is one of the hottest topics in leadership conferences. State and federal laws require that companies and organizations make their workforces and membership closely reflect the population in terms of race, gender, and other factors.

Increasing evidence shows that many DEI efforts are counterproductive. DEI initiatives often cause resentment and dissatisfaction because they heighten rather than lessen friction among different groups.

To humans, belonging means safety. In most DEI practices, belonging is no more than lip service.

Human beings have always needed to belong to groups. In prehistory, survival and safety depended on being part of a tribe. Today, we also voluntarily align ourselves with and actively support numerous groups. Political parties, religions, clubs, schools, sports teams, and social status are all part of this need to belong.

Humans bond on similarity, not difference. When DEI puts our differences in the spotlight, divisions deepen.

Membership in groups helps us work together, avoid stress, and find support from others. Simply ensuring that a team or workforce is diverse, equal, and inclusive means only some team members feel they genuinely belong to the group.

Most Requested Workshop: Neuroscience-Powered Leadership Training: How Belonging Brings People Together ~ Explore the science behind human bonds, enhance culture, and revamp DEI efforts.

The Ins and Outs of Belonging

Scientific research has shown that people belonging to a specific group like in-group members more than out-group members. In a recent study, avid soccer fans were asked to squeeze a hand grip to give a monetary award to themselves, fellow fans, and non-fans. The effort exerted by these fans determined the reward amount. The results showed significantly larger reward intentions for self and fellow fans than non-fans.

We favor those in the same groups as ourselves.

Among corporate employees or organization members, each person might belong to any number of groups based on racial, gender, political, or religious identifications. Establishing a healthy identity as a member of the company’s team or organization is a determining factor in creating a sense of belonging. As the soccer fan study indicates, a feeling of belonging to the group will result in more effort exerted to benefit that group.

Team Building Enhances Individual Belonging

In a diverse group environment, identifying with the group is essential to creating a team that works effectively toward common goals. Simply implementing a DEI policy cannot lead to a sense of belonging. Leadership should encourage team unity to help create an in-group that encompasses the entire organization.

Finding shared commonalities is a very effective way to bring people together. Very often, what truly bonds your team members is more than shared goals.

Studies have found that small, overlooked commonalities can motivate people to be more collaborative and helpful.

One study found that people with the same first name were three times more likely to help each other. Another study found that people were three times more generous toward those who shared their first names. These minimal commonalities create a sense of belonging at the unconscious level. They serve as a strong glue that binds your team members together.

Neuroscience Research Offers Insights into Belonging

The end goal of DEI should include enhancing individual feelings of belonging within a team, business, or organization. Understanding group dynamics is essential to making informed leadership decisions.

Dr. Terry Wu is an experienced Neuroscientist who has studied human behavior for nearly four decades. Through speaking and consulting, he helps corporate and organization leaders improve group cohesion and productivity. Few speakers make Neuroscience so fun and entertaining. He has built a reputation for translating science into relatable and actionable insights for leaders to implement.

Ronn Lehmann Terry brings neuroscience to business endeavors that for too long have been the purview of guesswork and fallacy. His insights into how humans actually make decisions and behave through the unconscious and subconscious systems of our brains are revealing, compelling, and – most importantly – relevant to anyone who seeks to be an effective leader. His presentations on Stress Management and Us vs Them are particularly important during these turbulent times. An accomplished neuroscientist, business consultant, and speaker, Terry never fails to deliver immense value. ~ Ronn Lehmann, Speaker, Consultant, Writer, and Facilitator
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