The Power of Belonging is Essential to DEI

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In today’s interconnected world, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have taken center stage across many organizations. These initiatives aim to create fair and inclusive environments where people of all backgrounds, identities and experiences can thrive. But one crucial element is often overlooked in these conversations: Belonging.

Belonging goes beyond mere representation and quotas. It’s about creating a sense of inclusion so profound that individuals genuinely feel they are valued and respected members of a community or organization.

In FY2022, CICOA added belonging as an essential element of our DEI initiatives. Here’s how I see belonging impacting our work.

Reflecting the Communities We Serve

One compelling reason for embracing DEIB is the need to better reflect the communities we serve. Seniors, people with disabilities, and family caregivers across Central Indiana increasingly come from diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences. As our team reflects the diversity of our clients, it becomes easier to create tailored programs and services that resonate with them and enhance their sense of belonging. Our use of community health workers, funded by a grant from Purdue University’s Center for Health Equity and Innovation, has allowed CICOA to expand our reach across at-risk populations to address health disparities through improved communication, training and community connections.

Enhancing Person-Centered Care

When team members from various backgrounds collaborate, they bring a wide range of perspectives and insights to the table, which can lead to innovative solutions, more effective care plans, and better outcomes for our clients. Likewise, when we include clients in their own care planning, we ask them what their goals are and how they can be accomplished. By doing so, clients feel understood and valued and are more likely to achieve their care plan goals.

Strengthening Employee Engagement

DEIB isn’t just about the clients; it’s also about our employees. When staff members feel valued, heard and included, their job satisfaction and engagement levels soar. An inclusive work environment fosters a sense of belonging, which has reduced turnover rates and increased productivity. This, in turn, ensures continuity in care for our clients and a more positive workplace culture.

Attracting Top Talent

Organizations that prioritize DEIB often find it easier to attract and retain top talent. Prospective employees are increasingly looking for workplaces that value diversity and inclusion. By championing these principles, CICOA stands out in a competitive job market and attracts skilled professionals who are passionate about our mission.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion AND Belonging are not just buzzwords but have become essential elements of CICOA’s culture. They are transforming our organization, enhancing the quality of care we provide, and creating a workplace where employees thrive.

CICOA’s vision is for Indiana to be a community where older adults and those of any age with a disability flourish. While much has been done, we realize that our work really is just beginning so that this vision truly includes all people.


CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown
Tauhric Brown

As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.


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