Most organizations understand the benefits of diversity, both on a personal and a business level. As labs become more diverse, new challenges in inclusion, equity, and belonging need to be addressed to reach the real benefits of diversity. Having the feeling of belonging to a group or team is vital for lab staff to thrive and reach their potential. As Nga Nguyen presented in the Lab Manager 2021 Diversity Summit, “Loneliness is the other side of diversity.” Feeling alone, especially when working alongside colleagues, can have a variety of negative consequences, including depression, disengagement, and isolation. These negative outcomes impact both the individual and the organization. Lab managers can take action to improve the lab community and ensure all individuals are included and belong. Here are three tips that will help you and your staff improve belonging in your lab.
#1 – Be aware of individuals
Get to know the people on your staff, not just for what they can deliver at the bench, but for who they are. Observe who hangs out together, and who spends significant time alone. Become aware of reasons why someone might be excluded by the larger group, or who just might need a friend in the lab.
#2 – Value every voice
As you seek information, data, and ideas around the decisions for the lab, seek out every voice in the lab. Ensure everyone feels safe to contribute their ideas and has a voice in the operations and culture of the organization. It may take extra effort to enable everyone to contribute. Your efforts to obtain broader feedback will be rewarded by improved inclusion and a wider range of inputs and ideas.
#3 – Build the community
Take the opportunity to build connections between colleagues. This can be accomplished both through building different project teams that take advantage of all the diverse knowledge and experience in the lab, and by including more people when planning the lab’s social activities. Add celebrations that are important to different members of staff. Don’t settle for the same teams and groups driving everything. Ensure that people have a chance to work together with a wider portion of their colleagues. Give people more opportunities to get to know one another. Everyone can benefit by learning something new and gaining greater appreciation for the diversity of their colleagues.