We’re celebrating our second annual Global Week of Belonging, a time to further educate, engage and involve colleagues in our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts. This year’s theme, “Building Trust and Connection,” empowers colleagues globally to understand the importance of building trust and strengthening connections to foster a more respectful, diverse and inclusive culture. Employees will engage in activities throughout the week and hear from internal and external experts and leaders who put trust and connection at the center of their work. For this special edition of Inside Edelman, we profiled colleagues from around our global offices who are committed to deepening Edelman’s commitment to DE&I and are advocates for building acceptance and understanding within the firm and beyond.  

What does DE&I mean to you?

It means making everyone in an organization, especially at leadership positions, accountable for actively building safer spaces for voicing and celebrating the diverse nature of our lived experiences and bodies.

What do you see as the link between DE&I and business progress, performance and growth?

The world has never been homogenous, but businesses have been historically driven by a very homogenous minority of individuals. I believe that overall performance improvements are to be expected when organizations commit to truly building inclusive environments that solve for these historical power imbalances in decision making, especially as a result of adding a richer and more diverse perspective to their worldview.

Edelman’s 2022 Global Week of Belonging seeks to emphasize trust and connection. How have you learned to build trust and connection throughout your career?

I think that being hyper honest and vocal about who I am and what I care about has helped me build trust and long-lasting connections with peers throughout my career.

What has influenced your thinking around DE&I and motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change?

I have been privileged to have always worked with people who are loud and proud LGBTQ+ allies. This has made me feel comfortable in my queerness and helped me understand the need to be actively outspoken about it. I care about DE&I because I want to help create a welcoming environment for young people coming into our organization, so they know they’ve landed in the right place to do great things from the get-go and become leaders themselves.

What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds?

Being ok with feeling uncomfortable and constantly reminding myself that difficult conversations can lead to positive outcomes has helped me understand, reach out and connect more positively with my colleagues. I also never assume I know what someone is experiencing.

Have you ever had an experience or situation in which you felt like you didn’t belong?

I’m always a little shocked whenever I feel like I DO belong. Feeling like you don’t belong leaves a mark that doesn’t go away easily, not even once you’ve found safe spaces and people with whom you feel like yourself. Growing up queer and brown in Mexico, there were a lot of instances when I felt like I didn’t belong. Belonging requires a lot of concerted efforts to happen, a lot of personal healing, openness, mutual understanding, and a support structure ready to welcome people’s diverse histories, identities and experiences.

What can leaders and managers be doing to help improve a company's culture to ensure it is an inclusive workplace?

First, have the uncomfortable conversations. These start when leaders actively listen to people’s experiences of discrimination, exclusion and inequity. Then, try to lead with an intersectional understanding of the world, making it safe to tap and share our identities and histories openly. For me, it is all about leaders co-creating enabling environments with their teams, spaces where we can collectively imagine and reshape the systems in place. There’s a lot of power to be found in inclusive workplaces, and the ultimate move is to have truly diverse and inclusive decision-making structures at the top tier of companies.

Jorge Diaz is the Business Development Director in Edelman Mexico.