The Ripple Effect of Inclusivity: Transforming Lives and Communities

June 27, 2024 Sarah Hempel

Have you ever walked into a space and instantly felt like you didn’t belong? 


You’re not alone. People can feel uneasy in different situations for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t speak the same language as others in that space. Possibly they don’t feel dressed up enough for an occasion. Perhaps they hear others sharing great ideas and they feel like an imposter. Or they may notice their family structure looks different from others around them.  


Regardless of others’ intentions, these are a few examples of how people can feel excluded—and why inclusive communities are so important. Inclusive communities foster a sense of belonging and respect for every individual. When people feel included and valued, they are more likely to be engaged and productive because they can be emotionally and mentally invested in their activities. This becomes the kind of environment that can be regarded as psychologically safe. 


Why does the topic of inclusion matter to me? I am a queer woman. I came out in 2016 and have been through many experiences that have shaped who I am today. Inclusion plays a key role in my life because it fosters a sense of belonging, which is crucial for my mental and emotional well-being. Finding spaces where I feel included and valued boosts my confidence and self-esteem. It is something I value personally, and it is something that I have tried to share with others throughout my professional career.


Earlier this year, I became co-founder and president of the newest (and only) LGBTQ+ non-profit in Carver County, Minnesota—Carver County Pride. What began as an idea to bring people together one Friday night a month turned into a model for the power of inclusion. I saw LGBTQ+ individuals really start to shine as they felt included and valued in conversations. Connections were made, friendships were born, and my fellow co-founders and I decided to take the next step and create a very visible and vibrant community of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies.  


As Blanchard’s senior manager of community experience, I oversee the Blanchard Community and work to ensure our members feel included. By providing an inclusive community where global leaders can connect, learn, and grow, my colleagues and I encourage open communication, which builds trust and understanding among members. This creates a culture where people feel safe to express their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment, leading to more innovation and collaboration and, in turn, more meaningful lives. I see myself as someone who connects the dots: I connect people to people, people to resources, and people to events. Through each of these connections, I am learning, evolving, and working to ensure that all voices within the community are heard and celebrated as we bring people together.  


We all recognize that feeling included feels good. By creating inclusive communities—whether personally, like my non-profit, or professionally, like the Blanchard Community—we can improve our relationships and prepare ourselves and others to be more compassionate leaders and proactive global citizens. It’s truly a win-win for everyone! 


Here are a few ways you can create or contribute to inclusivity in your work, home, and community:


·       Celebrate diversity: Recognize and celebrate a variety of cultural, religious, and personal milestones. Acknowledge and celebrate a range of interests, cultures, and backgrounds among your family members, colleagues, or community members. By recognizing and celebrating diversity we not only honor the unique contributions of each individual, we also enrich our own experiences and build a more inclusive, empathetic, and dynamic society. 

·       Be comfortable in the uncomfortable: Engage with folks who are different from you. Participate in community events that bring together diverse groups of people. Step outside your comfort zone. Volunteer with local organizations that promote inclusivity and support marginalized communities. For example, Free Mom Hugs works to empower the world to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. They embrace people of all faiths, backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations. Their goal is to change the world simply by showing up. 

·       Be an active listener: Listen to understand, not to respond. Practice active listening in meetings and in everyday interactions with others. 

·       Lead by example: Model inclusive behavior by being transparent, admitting your mistakes, and treating others with respect. Show a genuine interest in other people’s lives, whether at home, work, or in your community. This builds trust, and trust builds community. 

·       Educate and advocate: Use your voice to educate others about the importance of inclusion. Advocate for policies, practices, and spaces that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in your community and workplace.  


My challenge to you is to start today—with one action that will help make your corner of the world more inclusive. Join the Blanchard Community if you want a glimpse of how we do it regularly. It doesn’t matter if your action is big or small—what matters is that you are taking the next step. You can help create a more inclusive community right where you are!  

About the Author

Sarah Hempel

Sarah Hempel is the Senior Manager of Community Experiences for Blanchard. In this role, Sarah is passionate about creating inclusive spaces and making a difference in the lives of others. She promotes collaboration, innovation, and building trust as she connects people with the resources to help them grow as leaders.

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