A Restorative Approach to Building a Culture of Belonging

Jul 3, 2020 9:30 PM ET

Whether we learn it in workplace environments, or by personal experiences in the relationships that matter most in life the concept of safety is inextricably linked to feelings of belonging.

I am fortunate enough to have a front row seat to this reality every day in my campus safety role. A few years ago, we received feedback from students, our primary stakeholders, who told us with no uncertainty that the way of doing the business for campus security needed to change to better reflect the community. Our mission was clear: they gave us the WHAT we needed to be thinking about in order to do our work better. But, at the time, we couldn’t have known that the HOW of this mission – adopting an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) focus – would not only shift our service delivery, but would transform the entire culture of our business unit.

Taking a restorative approach and using equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) principles as guideposts, doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking or special project creating a demand on resources. It does take a commitment to examine current organizational goals and strategies and find ways to embed these values and animate this approach from there. 

So, if Ye Ol’ Campus Security team can start thinking differently about EDI, why not everyone? Instead of writing a how-to I’m going to outline a how-we – some steps we took to start this journey. It may look very different in other contexts but the approach and principles are the same. The principles of EDI are interconnected, not parts of a linear process. Shifting organizational thinking, which leads to changes in organizational behaviour, is a continuous process of constantly checking-in.