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?

To me it readily signals a “filter-less” world, where individuals and individuality is celebrated, unapologetically.

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

It is not just a link, but the only way an organization and its business can thrive, grow and stay competitive today. DE&I is a perfect recipe for innovation and breakthroughs.

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?

Ours is a “people” business, where the only operating principle is continuously investing in building trust with one another. For me, connecting with co-workers at a core human level has always been a starting point.

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

I would credit it to my upbringing and my value system inculcated by my parents. That helped develop a mindset from the very start to focus on individuals and what excites them. This is something I’ve been practicing for a while now.

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

Nothing beats active listening and listening genuinely. Everyone is full of stories they are hoping for someone to hear. So, I always show genuine interest in hearing those compelling accounts and learn how their lives operate.

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

Yes, there have been times when I felt it was hard to fit in. But then, I’ve always believed it’s not about fitting in, but investing in building relationships that readily welcome me in. It is always a two-way street: a place tends to welcome you when you walk right in with an open mind with the intention to belong and stay.

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

In my experience, the places that encourage people to bond over common interests, passion points and goals without any biases often tend to foster better inclusivity over those that remain hierarchical and with a top-down approach. Inclusivity thrives best in environments that remain bottom up.

Mazuin Zin is Managing Director of Edelman Malaysia.