Ambient Belonging - Definition and Explanation - The Oxford Review - OR Briefings

Ambient Belonging – Definition and Explanation

Understanding Ambient Belonging: Cultivating Inclusive Spaces

In the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the concept of Ambient Belonging plays a pivotal role. It refers to the subtle yet powerful sense of belonging that individuals experience in their surroundings. 

Definition:

Ambient Belonging encompasses the feeling of acceptance, validation, and comfort that individuals perceive in their environment. Unlike overt acts of inclusion, such as diversity initiatives or explicit gestures, Ambient Belonging operates at a subconscious level. It’s about creating an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and respected without having to actively seek affirmation.

Significance of Ambient Belonging:

Ambient Belonging is crucial for fostering a diverse and inclusive culture within organisations. When individuals feel a sense of belonging in their environment, they are more likely to contribute their unique perspectives, ideas, and talents. This leads to increased innovation, creativity, and overall productivity. Moreover, Ambient Belonging promotes psychological safety, which is essential for employee well-being and retention.

Creating Ambient Belonging:

  1. Promote Diversity: Embrace diversity in all its forms, including race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and beyond. Ensure that everyone’s voices are heard and valued, fostering a culture of inclusivity.
  2. Cultivate Empathy: Encourage empathy and understanding among team members. Empathy allows individuals to connect on a deeper level, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual respect.
  3. Provide Supportive Spaces: Create physical and virtual spaces that are welcoming and inclusive. Consider factors such as accessibility, comfort, and representation to ensure that everyone feels at home.
  4. Celebrate Differences: Celebrate the unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of individuals within the organisation. Recognise and appreciate diversity as a strength rather than a barrier.
  5. Lead by Example: Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping organisational culture. Leaders should demonstrate inclusive behaviours, champion diversity initiatives, and hold others accountable for creating an inclusive environment.

Example:

Imagine a workplace where employees from diverse backgrounds gather in a communal area for lunch. In this space, conversations flow freely, and individuals share stories about their cultures, traditions, and experiences. Everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves authentically, knowing that their colleagues respect and appreciate their differences. This sense of belonging extends beyond work tasks, fostering genuine connections and camaraderie among team members.

Conclusion:

Ambient Belonging is a fundamental aspect of creating inclusive environments where individuals feel valued, respected, and empowered to bring their whole selves to work. By embracing diversity, cultivating empathy, and providing supportive spaces, organisations can foster a culture of belonging that drives innovation, collaboration, and success.

References:

Cheryan, S., Plaut, V. C., Davies, P. G., & Steele, C. M. (2009). Ambient belonging: how stereotypical cues impact gender participation in computer science. Journal of personality and social psychology97(6), 1045. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2009-22579-003

Tucker, B., Denzler, R., Wallace, K., & Regen, D. (2022). 107–Ambient Belonging Cues in Digital Spaces. https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/great-day-symposium/great-day-2022/posters-2022/36/

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