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By Amy Sikalis

The TIDE Committee Book Club gathering on August 17th was composed of five Faculty and three Staff members to review “Belonging” by Kathryn Jacob, Sue Unerman and Mark Edwards. Tagline “The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work” and endorsed by Esquire Magazine as “The most important business book of the year”.

A Manifesto for Belonging (from the Introduction) 

We are aiming to create a business world where … Everyone should feel safe to bring their real selves to work.  Everyone Should feel that they belong in their workplace.  Everyone should believe that success at their organization is based on how they can contribute. 

To make this a reality, the following has to happen… As far as is humanly possible, recruitment and promotion should be made free of bias.  Decision-making within the organization should follow a clear process and should be transparent.  Organizations must create a psychologically safe environment, where people can be themselves.  Where they feel free to express opinions, challenge others (respectfully) and make mistakes (occasionally).  Organizations should train their people to develop their emotional intelligence and empath, their self-awareness, and their awareness of others.  Individuals must also take responsibility to behave in an emotionally intelligent way. 

Change is never ceasing, disruption is everywhere.  The workplaces that will thrive are those who can combine the best talent to solve problems and drive growth.  The only way to achieve this is to ensure that everyone with a contribution to make feels like they belong there.  And to do this, everyone must be a champion of Belonging.  Progress may have stalled in terms of diversity, but it is in your hands, as a reader of this book, to make that change real”.

The book Belonging is a journey, with examples, that explores what is going on in the workplace, what is working, the secret of Belonging, putting Belonging into action, and developing a workplace culture of Belonging. 

A true sense of belonging is not manufactured, neither is the experience of not belonging.  The themes that emerged from the discussion were: a safe environment is crucial, speaking up and addressing circumstances of exclusion or micro-aggression with kindness and empathy, handling conflicting opinions with fairness, transparency and making commitments to move forward and knowing the difference between appropriate and inappropriate banter and humor. 

Circumstances of harassment were shared, and the group discussed how supervisors may respond and what support, or lack of support, may be incurred from central Human Resources (circumstances were not at UU).

The ultimate secret of Belonging is for us as individuals to “check ourselves before we wreck ourselves”.  The workplace is an environment of fight or flight where conflict and differences of opinions are constant.  A person must master the ability to pause, suggested breathing technique 4:7:8, checking in with “where is my mind – note your current focus, then ask is this helpful?, then ask where would I like my mind to be, place your mind where you want it”.  This check allows us to work outside of the fight or flight response and proceed in a space that allows for Belonging.       

The collective experience of our respective roles in the Department indicated a sense of Belonging that may be unique to the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences.  A bubble, or bubbles, of healthy relationships, shared values, and a spirit to be and express yourself. 


Amy Sikalis is the Administrative Director of Radiology and Imaging Sciences Research and a member of the department’s TIDE Committee

Jace King, PhD is Assistant Professor Radiology and Imaging Sciences and co-Chair of the department’s TIDE Committee