Standard Bank chief people officer Sharon Taylor on belonging

Sharon says belonging is about being able to bring your true self to work and thrive.

Organisations are increasingly becoming aware that merely having a rainbow of faces and accents without a meaningful cultural shift means genuine inclusion is never realised. Enter the era of belonging, which aims to deepen the lived experience in the workplace. 

Executives are increasingly declaring their commitment to diversity with many leaders now aware of the connection between increased diversity and a better bottom line. But what do these terms mean and how do we make sure they are not just buzzwords, but real calls-to-action that transform organisations?

Sharon Taylor, chief people and culture officer at Standard Bank says belonging equates to understanding “if people feel a deep connection with your purpose, in your values and whether that resonates with who they are and what's important to them.” 

She contends that, if a company is not able to achieve alignment in that area, you end up with people feeling as though they have to leave their true selves at the door when they arrive at work. “But if you get it right, I think you can really unlock something very special in your people.”

Sharon explains that three years ago Standard Bank introduced a powerful employee insights platform. The tool gives teams as well as leaders immediate access to the results and insights. 

The insights and actionable data can be assimilated into people strategies at all levels of the business. She emphasises that “I've learned that what gets measured gets done and most organisations focus predominantly on tracking financial results. We have included employee engagement as a metric. It gets tracked on an annual basis and internally it gets reported to the board and the leadership and externally it goes into our annual report to shareholders.”

Sharon highlights that the process of cultivating belonging requires that companies must answer the tough question of whether they have created an environment where people can bring their authentic, true selves to work and be valued for that.

This has resulted in a change in the way organisations operate vis-a-vis the 'contract' they have with employees. 

“Organisations historically placed a lot of emphasis on what I would call the economic contract, but I think that's not enough anymore. Employees today are discerning; they want to be able to contribute to something greater,” concludes Sharon