Building belonging and a world of possibility

A Black man wearing a black jacket smiles as he walks outside in the sun
john a. powell, University of California, Berkeley
A Black woman with long brown hair smiles at the camera

Melonie Parker (she/her) Chief Diversity Officer, Google

Everyone knows how it feels to not belong — to be "othered." Some are othered because of the way they look, some because of their socioeconomic status or even their beliefs. Othering can happen to anyone, based on any of their identities or experiences, and it holds us all back.

The effects of belonging are just as powerful. When we treat each other with mutual respect and support, and work together across our differences to shape our world and our future, the possibilities of what we can do are truly limitless.

It has been my privilege to lead Google’s equity-building efforts, and I see belonging as a natural progression of this work. We’re inspired by the work of john a. powell, a distinguished expert on belonging, as we move into this next chapter of our journey: building a world where everyone can belong.

As the maker of products used by billions of people every day, we see this as a core responsibility. To deliver, we're focused on the areas where we can have the greatest impact: building belonging at work, in our products, and in society. Because the barriers people experience look different in different places, we’ve first applied this approach to our work in the U.S. and look forward to building on what we learn as we extend it around the world.

A world where everyone belongs is one we can only build together. We are grateful for what we've learned from our partners, and hopeful that in sharing it, we can help others accelerate their progress as well. In that spirit, here are five principles guiding our work:


Belonging unlocks possibility for all.

Belonging creates a ripple effect with powerful results. When we cultivate for everyone, it empowers each of us to go further, unlocking creativity and innovation that could create new opportunities for others. Just as the ripple flows out, it also flows back in. At Google, we look forward to the changes our actions will drive in the world, and to the changes that progress in the world will inspire in us.
An illustration of overlapping layers that grow larger to indicate the ripple effect

Belonging expands on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diversity means bringing everyone to the table. Inclusion means making sure they all have a seat. Equity means creating conditions that allow overlooked people the opportunity to succeed. These will always be priorities at Google, and belonging for everyone goes further. Beyond leveling the playing field, it means building for each person’s full potential - which is where Google was built to help.
An illustration of six people each in their own bubble holding hands with others across the dividing lines

Co-creation is essential to belonging.

Only when everyone has not just a seat at the table, but the power to help shape it, can we build new structures that do not exclude. At Google, we are incorporating voices that challenge and enrich us as we co-create a workplace and world where we across communities and no one is .
An illustration of five people standing around a globe with their hands touching the globe

It takes targeted strategies to help everyone belong.

A world of belonging will benefit everyone, but the structural barriers that must be overcome to reach this goal are different for everyone. That’s why it’s important to develop focused strategies, informed by data and tailored to the needs of individual groups, as we strive toward universal goals that include us all. At Google, our strategies begin with historically marginalized groups, but we recognize that the need extends beyond these groups, and we commit ourselves to building a world where everyone can reach their full potential.
An illustration of multiple intertwined hands of different colors

The road to belonging is ever evolving.

Belonging is a practice of continued care and tending. As we grow and evolve as people, we must continue to adapt and work together to ensure that the structures of our world work for everyone. We accept that we will always have more to learn and do on this journey, and commit to sharing what we know in the hope that it accelerates all of our collective progress toward a world of belonging and possibility for all.
An illustration of a group of people sitting on top of a hilly road helping each other up

Explore more of our belonging work

Illustrations by Camilo Huinca