What it Means to Belong

Avaya is proud to announce its 2022 Pride theme, “Love your Pride,” ahead of this year’s LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, and we hope it sparks meaningful discussion around the topic of belonging. For us, this year’s theme is not only about self-love and -acceptance but finding a community that loves and accepts us for who we are. This is not a flowery, “kumbaya” sentiment. The science behind belonging is eye-opening and can be frightening if we don’t pay close enough attention. Those who feel ostracized experience deep pain (like the pain of physical injury, research has found) that can manifest in heartbreaking ways, and mental health issues and harmful coping mechanisms also exist. 

Belonging is a fundamental human need and foundational for a safe and thriving civilization. We all have the power to make a difference by creating a sense of belonging wherever we share life with others: at work, at home, and everywhere in-between. 

Those who find their space of acceptance and inclusion no longer feel alone. Unsurprisingly, research shows these people experience opposite effects of exclusion including better cognitive health and a stronger immune system (which is why a sense of belonging is tied to better productivity, motivation, and engagement within the workplace). 

As a global corporation with thousands of employees, Avaya takes this very seriously. No one wants to feel like they have to be inauthentic to fit in, especially at work where we spend so much of our time. Employers have a responsibility to create a sense of genuine belonging at work. For some of us, this may be the only place we feel safe enough to be our true authentic selves. 

Avaya offers a variety of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including our PRIDE network, for our employees to build a sense of community, belonging, safety, and inclusion at work. Anyone can join an ERG, including allies. We believe in the power of these groups to celebrate diversity, fight for representation, and activate a stronger, more connected workforce. 

Avaya has great plans for this year’s Pride Month, including a panel discussion on the topic of belonging and the importance of acceptance. Avaya and our partner ConvergeOne are teaming up this year to bring together employees of both companies and members of PFLAG, the first and largest organization for LGBTQ+ people, their families, and allies, to discuss what Pride and belonging means to them. 

To my fellow members of the LGBTQIA+ community, always remember that your worth is not contingent on others’ acceptance. If you’re not shown the respect you deserve, continue searching until you find your safe place of peace, acceptance, and inclusion (PFLAG has many great resources for this). 

To allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, thank you for your continued love and support. And to those who struggle with love and acceptance, I hope you’ll soon realize that belonging is not contingent on beliefs, race, gender, or sexual orientation. You are never alone. 

Written and printed with permission by Lee Ho

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