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Beyond D&I to Belonging & Innovation

Beyond D&I to Belonging & Innovation

Following on from our last series event, where Dr Anita Sands and Neil Sands shared their insights on the power of “Belonging”, the advanced corollary of diversity and inclusion, we received overwhelming feedback that leaders would like to learn, in a practical way, how to apply the power of “Belonging” within their own organisational context.

For this reason, Neil Sands agreed to construct a bespoke workshop, especially for our guests to seek practical solutions to creating a sense of Belonging in a workforce to foster and accelerate innovation.

diversity is a fact


“Diversity is a fact, Inclusion is a Choice, Belonging is a feeling”

Neil’s fascinating insights included perspectives on organisations that are using design thinking principles to enhance their success and using the enabler of “Belonging” to foster the freedom to innovate.

Moving on to talk about the danger of Orthodoxies - the hard-wired thinking in all organisations, Neil pointed to some famous examples, like the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, Ken Olsen’s comment in 1977:

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Neil then took our guests through an eye-opening exercise where we identified the Orthodoxies in our own businesses and turned them on their heads. For example, let’s ask the following questions:

Q: What would a senior manager never say about working here?

A: My ideas are always taken on Board

Q: What orthodoxy does this represent?

A: We are not listening to our senior management

Q: What risks do this orthodoxy represent?

A: Low enthusiasm, No innovation, Attrition, Stagnation

Action: What if we were to reverse this orthodoxy - what would that look like? What would be the outcome?

The feedback from our quests was outstanding with lots of practical takeaways to implement in-house. Neil’s key conclusions were an invitation to our guests to:

  1. Challenge your belonging orthodoxies
  2. Bring & invite the fullest self to work


Neil Sands is CEO and Founder of Fox Design a global applied design thinking firm working with high-growth organisations to lead large-scale digital disruption. Currently co-authoring a book BelongINC on Belonging and Digital Transformation with his sister Dr Anita Sands, Neil is a published writer and is a regular contributor on applied design, innovation, and DIBs (Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging). Neil is a leader within the Irish Community, holding board positions with several non-for-profit, philanthropic and voluntary organizations, and won the IC Top 40 Under 40 Award in 2015.

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