Workplace engagement requires an understanding of interpersonal dynamics. Nurtured by relational, social, and cultural dynamics, belonging occurs in cognitive, spatial, bodily, and material means.44 For engagement and high performance to occur, belonging is a critical necessity because it underscores how people participate in common goals, learn through participation, grasp new ideas, shape identity through membership, and change personal investment through their place of work.45 The sense of belonging relates to gaining acceptance and avoiding rejection, exclusion, or ostracism.44 Thinking back to the concepts presented within collective intentionality and intersectionality, one can connect that differences, including diverse identities, have been seen as grounds for rejection, exclusion and ostracism. Fundamentally, social psychological literature demonstratesthat prosocial behaviour and engagement decreases and can become harmful (psychologically, cognitively, and physically) when employees do not experience belonging.46 Moreover, individuals are more apt to identify and engage with a particular group when the group allows for belonging by recognizing differences and accepting them as valuable.47 This sentiment is one that is not typically found in industries with low representation of diverse identities. Homogeneous talent pools acquire belonging through groupthink mechanisms, contextual recognitions, and reoccuring socialized cycles. This in of itself makes it hard for diverse talent to be valued or experience belonging because they perceive the environment differently. While diversity audits are part of understanding metrics for advancement, one must consider how diversity demographics effect belonging within organizations.
For that reason, to preemptively prepare for the thesis that ensues and looks to provide statistical significance with belonging-first metrics, a key literature search identifying themes and gaps was performed in order to understand the key indicating factors of belonging. The research began by investigating if belonging had previously been correlated within talent management or the talent management pipeline. The search produced the initial gap within the research and therefore led to a literary search seeking to describe belonging in the context of the workplace, interpersonal relationships, intrapersonal relationships, and systematic relationships. While there were nine common themes for describing belonging, only five are consistent key indicators. Belonging key indicators are; (1) comfort, (2) connection, (3) ontribution, (4) psychological safety, and (5) wellbeing. Figure 4, visually depicts the 5 key indicators.
Collective intentionality demonstrates that a group of people must agree that a concept exists for language to have meaning and mental inference. For this reason, the terminology for belonging was seen as the second gap.
Following the identification of the second gap, the next question pertained to understanding how belonging is felt and experienced within the workplace, interpersonal relationships, behaviourally, and how it ultimately affects talent management. The search looked for literature that connected belonging with exclusive talent management, perceived organizational justice, and employee engagement from the talent management perspective. The final step led to identifying literature that connected belonging, intersectionality, and exclusive talent management. These literary reviews produced the third gap, which primarily explores the lack of data collected on diverse and marginalized people within the workplace and talent pipeline. The literary research, combinedwith previous neuroscience research (exploring performance and human capital), produced the question, “How can organizations measure belonging from an analytical perspective so that they can improve culture and accelerate equity, diversity, and inclusion applications?”
This is the starting place for a mining industry research study, investigating Belonging as a tool for equity, diversity, and inclusion as it pertains to talent management. A survey, reflecting the five key indicators of belonging, was prepared, using a focused literary search of peer-reviewed research. Questions were further developed based on peer-reviewed belonging research studies, within the fields of neuropsychology, behavioral neuroscience, individual psychology, and industrial and organizational psychology.