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March 28, 2024

The Ideal Outcome of DEI Is Belonging

A preview of HAA’s Workplace Mental Health Summit

The Ideal Outcome of DEI Is Belonging

HAA’s Workplace Mental Health Action Summit on May 2 is fast approaching, and this year’s theme is “Connecting in a Divided World.” The country’s political and social divisions are leading to more loneliness and a deficit of belonging – and it's seeping into our workplaces. This year’s virtual summit will provide leaders with useful strategies and practical guidance to address and overcome these threats to collaboration, innovation and worker productivity.


One of the summit’s featured speakers is Kim Dabbs, Global VP, ESG + Social Innovation at Steelcase, the office, classroom and healthcare furniture manufacturer. As a Korean-born American adoptee living in Germany, she understands how it feels to struggle with belonging. Dabbs recently released You Belong Here, a book that provides a framework for better understanding our own identities so that we feel a sense of belonging no matter where we are.

“I think everyone focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion, and all of these pieces are all critical parts, paths and programs to progress, but the outcome is belonging,” she tells HAA. “When you think about all of those programs, it's like, OK, we're not going to have diversity for diversity's sake, and we're not going to have inclusion for inclusion’s sake. We're going to have all of these things to make sure that, in the end, everyone can show up as they are and as they choose to be. And when we can curate workplaces that facilitate that, then people bring their best selves to work. That's the future of work that we all want now.”

She points out that we don’t get to choose every person we work with, so as leaders: “We have to be really intentional about creating those spaces where people can show up as their authentic selves, as well as creating a culture within those institutions to be able to navigate differences.”

Dabbs believes that in order to show up at work as our authentic (and best) selves, we need to fully understand our own identity. Here’s a snapshot of the four identities she explores in the book. She shares her thoughts with us on each one:

  • Lived Identity: “These are the things that we inherit when we're born, like where we were born and the socioeconomic status we were born into. And a lot of times, because these are origin stories that we've told ourselves over and over time, we think that these are really fixed things.”

  • Learned Identity: “These are the things that we claim. For me, it’s my career pathway. I'm also a wife, I'm a mother, I'm all of these different things.”

  • Lingering Identity: “When we're triggered or we're in places where our values are pressure tested, this is something that we default to. This is our go-to response. If we don't unlearn the things that we've told ourselves (like, ‘I'm too this’ or ‘I'm too that,’) we start to question ourselves instead of questioning the social systems that we live in.”

  • Loved Identity: “I end with the loved identity. When you see your lived identity, start to claim the parts that make up your learned identity, and revisit that lingering identity –  it’s where we find our authentic selves. You understand who you are and the pieces of yourself you want to be seen, heard, and valued for.”

Join Dabbs, HAA and more soon-to-be-announced speakers at this year's Workplace Mental Health Action Summit.

And for more of a deep-dive on creating a culture of belonging, check out HAA’s employer resource “Cultivating Belonging in the Workplace.”

More Upcoming Events from HAA

On Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 2pm ET, the Health Action Alliance and Mental Health America are partnering to empower HR professionals with key insights needed to make well-informed decisions when selecting or renewing digital behavioral health solutions for their employees.  

The workshop will emphasize the role effective solutions can play when integrated with existing employee wellness programs and an overall holistic culture of support in the workplace. Select providers will be available for a curated Q&A, and participants will emerge from the event with key questions to ask brokers and digital health partners.


Join the Health Action Alliance on April 25, 2004 at 2pm ET for a virtual event exploring how to champion inclusive well-being and create a workplace where everyone thrives.

HR professionals, business leaders, and other employees championing health and wellness are encouraged to attend the event where you will learn:

  • Why addressing health equity in the workplace is good for business.
  • How to assess which health equity issues to address within your company.
  • Innovative solutions to foster a more equitable and supportive work environment.
  • How companies who have taken on HIV in the workplace can provide useful models for addressing other health disparities.
  • Actionable takeaways for companies of all sizes.


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