Belonging Cues: How to Create a Culture of Inclusion + Belonging in the Workplace

At Okta, diversity, inclusion, and belonging—and identity—are important. We believe that fostering a culture of belonging starts among our own Oktanauts. One way to practice that is by being mindful of our belonging cues: verbal and non-verbal signals that create safe connections in the workplace and are critical in ensuring active participation and inclusion. Here are some tips to share belonging cues with your team and colleagues.

Belonging Cues

  1. Make space for everyone to have a turn to share their thoughts and opinions. Everyone should agree to abide by the one-voice-at-a-time practice.
  2. Listen, be nonjudgmental and keep an open mind on issues until it is time to weigh in with your perspective.
  3. Saying “thank you” isn’t only an expression of gratitude: it’s a crucial belonging cue that generates a contagious sense of safety, connection, and motivation. We all can use more “thank yous.”
  4. Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing. Use "I" instead of "they," "we," or "you").
  5. Silence has its space. Use it wisely.
  6. Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks—focus on ideas.
  7. Participate to the fullest of your ability—community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.
  8. The goal is not to agree—it’s about hearing and exploring divergent perspectives.
  9. Be conscious of negative body language and nonverbal responses—these cues can be as disrespectful as the spoken word.
  10. Practice and experience humility—accept that you may not have all the answers, and that’s fine!
  11. Having assumptions isn’t wrong or bad—it’s part of how all people fast-track understanding. The problem arises when you’re not even aware that you’re making assumptions. Pause and ask yourself “am I jumping to conclusions?” before staking your ground on a particular position.
  12. The next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside their mind, they might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. They might be deploying the powers of quiet.
  13. Don’t forget your friends on the far end—remote participants have great ideas too.

Okta is committed to building a diverse workforce supported by a culture of inclusion and belonging. Check out our Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and Careers pages, and learn more about life at Okta.