Belonging is an integral part of the human experience and a fundamental human need. In an increasingly polarized social, political, and cultural landscape, workplaces serve as critical sources of belonging for their employees; however, members of the LGBTQ+ community often encounter barriers to belonging in the workplace, which can foment adverse mental and physical health outcomes that contribute to health disparities within this community.

Many organizations lack the policies and procedures necessary to ensure LGBTQ+ workers feel safe, connected, and included. While much work has begun in the area of workplace belonging, efforts to address major gaps in existing research and practice are needed.

Recently awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), ProChange Behavior Solutions is positioned to fill such gaps in research and practice. Building on their groundbreaking work on belonging, ProChange will develop and evaluate an advanced Learning Management System and messaging program, tentatively titled Bridges, that will leverage insights from behavior change science to cultivate a culture of belonging in the workplace.

Given that thwarted belongingness is disproportionately experienced by individuals who have marginalized gender and sexual identities, ProChange will be collaborating closely with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Eidos LGBTQ+ Health Initiative—a group dedicated to creating innovative health solutions for the LGBTQ+ community—to develop Bridges. To ensure Bridges meets the diverse needs of LGBTQ+ workers, ProChange will harness the power of co-creation by actively involving members of the community in the design and development process.

Marginalization and discrimination continue to negatively impact the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people, including in the workplace. LGBTQ+ employees are more likely to experience discrimination, harassment, work-related stress, and burnout. Eidos is thrilled to be partnering with ProChange to tackle these challenges by developing evidence-based and community-informed solutions to promote workplace belonging.

– James Wolfe, Senior Innovation Manager of the Eidos LGBTQ+ Health Initiative and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s project manager on the grant

With this grant, ProChange will be able to leverage behavior change science to deliver personalized behavior change communications and activities aimed at increasing belonging in the workplace at the individual level. This initiative not only has the potential to meet an important unmet public health need but could revolutionize company-sponsored wellness programs.

This project is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43MD019197. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.