A universal need to belong

Emma Mitchell, UK

Director, Diversity & Inclusiveness Leader, EY EMEIA Financial Services


Earlier this year, we’re promoted inclusiveness in our business through a campaign called I’m In — encouraging EY colleagues to create a more inclusive experience for others. It was a massive campaign involving leaders and employees from across our markets, many sharing personal and inspiring stories, and many more committing to #TryOneThing to make EY a more inclusive place to work. 

As many want to build inclusiveness into the heart of their organizations’ culture, I wanted to share some of the things we say to encourage participation in our business. I hope it may help and encourage you too.

(1)    Inclusiveness is one of the most important social and political issues of our time.  

We live in a world where 1% of the population owns half of the world’s wealth. Millions are migrating across the planet to access the privileges of others — for many, that’s simply to stay alive. Social unrest is growing and far-right parties are recruiting at an alarming rate. Welfare costs are increasing, but still fail to adequately care for the millions who need support. Meantime, we ignore valuable sources of talent and fight over the adequately skilled few. Inclusiveness matters to all of us. 

(2)    Technology has massive potential to transform our lives for the better, but could increase social division too. Digital inclusion must be at the heart of technology work.

Disruption brought on by technology could be a powerful catalyst to increase diversity and accelerate equality, but it’s also a threat, if we build today’s systemic biases into our future. As technology transforms our world, we need to be conscious we are building the workforce and work experiences of the future today, and not forget that we still depend on the resilience and creativity of human beings to be successful. “Inclusive innovation” needs to be at the heart of every change, particularly to help with the limited diversity in technology functions today. 

(3)    Regardless of our differences as human beings, we share a universal need to belong and feel valued as individuals.

We all know how miserable it is to be excluded, whether it was not being invited to a party as a child, speaking in a group and being ignored, feeling the pressure to do or say something we don't want to as we try to fit in, or feeling ashamed as we fail to challenge or ask a provocative question. Can you think of such a moment right now? How did you respond and how did it affect your performance? Now imagine what life would feel like if that’s your experience every day. That’s life for many, which is not only sad, but also a huge waste of human potential. We all have the right to contribute to our best, and participate in organizations and the world to our fullest potential. And how much better our organizations and the world would be if we could do so.

(4)    As human beings, each of us has the power to include others, making a difference to their lives in ways we will never know.

We are all connected to one another in ways we'll never fully know. What is a small gesture to us can make a massive difference to another. Can you recall a time when someone made you feel welcome? Or when someone encouraged you to be your quirky self? Or inspired you to share a dissenting opinion, and ensured you felt safe as you did so? What or who made you feel that way? How can you do the same for others? We all have the power to transform the lives of those around us.  

I love working at EY, surrounded by so many people who are challenging themselves to think and act differently as they bring inclusiveness into their day to day actions. This year, as we all #TryOneThing to proactively include others, we’d like you to feel included and join us too.