Welcome to the third blog on the subject of diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging. For those who missed part I & II: in part I the subject of diversity & inclusion was unravelled. The main outtake here is that we need equivalency to make sure discrimination and power abuse are not disguised as something good you are doing for your community or work environment. Read all about this subject here.
Part II covered beloning & equity, and the main outtake was that experiencing a sense of belonging in education is not only benefiting a person’s well being, it also positively impacts academic outcomes, such as grades, attendance, and graduation rates. Read all about this subject here.
Part III covers power and control. Why? Because the concepts of power, control, and belonging are interrelated and often intertwined in various social, educational and organisational contexts.
Let’s dive a little deeper into these words:
- Power refers to the ability to influence or control others, and can take many forms, such as formal authority, expertise, or social influence. Power dynamics play a significant role in shaping social relationships and determining who has control and influence in a given situation.
- Control on the other hand, refers to the ability to regulate and direct events or outcomes. Control can be exerted by individuals, groups, or organisations, and can impact how decisions are made and resources are distributed.
- Belonging, as I have previously explained, refers to the sense of being accepted, valued, and connected to others in a group or community.
In many cases, power and control can impact a person’s sense of belonging and well-being. For example, people who feel like they have little control over their lives or who are marginalized by power imbalances may struggle to feel like they belong and may experience a reduced sense of well-being. On the other hand, people who have a sense of belonging and are included in decision-making processes may have a stronger sense of control and feel more empowered.
Overall, the concepts of power, control, and belonging are interdependent and shape social dynamics in complex and nuanced ways. Understanding the relationships between these concepts is important for promoting equity, inclusion, and well-being in various settings.
For me as an educator and trainer on the subject of DEI-B I see a lot of willingness to change when needed, but when this change is not supported from the top, which is a struggle in general in bureaucratic organisations, the need for change remains in the focus groups/project groups/enthusiasts etc. but it does not reach the board rooms. Meaning that in order for change to actually take place, you need both a bottom up need for change and a top down support for change. The difficulty lies exactly here, because who’s at the top? The people with power and control. And who don’t like change? The people with power and control, who would fear to lose current privileges when current structures are changing.
Change in the educational system is crucial for student success and well-being, as well as academic achievement. Which then again would work out well for the management level of educational institutions. A win-win you could say: because students who feel like they belong in the University of their choice are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and invested in their education, as well as less likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression. Time to change the system so we can all fit, instead of asking the people to change to fit in the system!