Creating Cultures of Belonging: Cultivating Organizations Where Women and Men Thrive, By Beth Birmingham and Eeva Sallinen Simard alt

Creating Cultures of Belonging

Cultivating Organizations Where Women and Men Thrive

by Beth Birmingham and Eeva Sallinen Simard
Foreword by Myal Greene and Emily Sarmiento

Creating Cultures of Belonging
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Published: October 18, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3917
  • ISBN: 9780830839179

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With increasing interest from donors and board members to see faith-based, missional organizations reflect the diversity of God's kingdom, these organizations desire to have women in positions of leadership. However, this proves difficult when the organizational culture is one that silences and even penalizes the unique giftings that women bring to the table.

Many organizations still lack the ability to embody a new culture–what Beth Birmingham and Eeva Simard call a belonging culture. Such a culture is one where all employees are secure and recognized, where leaders seek productivity and connectivity, and where the organization is committed to supporting a diverse community of employees.

Creating Cultures of Belonging offers solutions for leadership teams, board members, and managers that reshape organizational culture in ways that invite and celebrate gender equity. With practical steps to enhance mentorship opportunities, human resources practices, and management tactics, Beth and Eeva point a way forward by identifying the changes that need to be made to create a belonging culture.

"A thoroughly researched, courageous critique of organizational practices and their impact on women and human flourishing. A must-read for women in Christian organizations."

Mimi Haddad, president of CBE International

"While many leaders of missional organizations no doubt want their organizations to be places of flourishing for both women and men, how to intentionally enable this is not always clear. Help is at hand! Birmingham and Sallinen Simard, in bringing us their belonging culture framework, detail six areas that, taken together, demystify what such a place of flourishing might look like and how to lead into it. Richly illustrated with research findings, stories, indicators, and examples, Creating Cultures of Belonging is essential reading for leaders seeking to transform their organizations in this important area."

Deborah Hancox, international coordinator, Micah Global

"The collective wisdom and practical guidance that these experienced women bring will be a gift to your organizations. As a Latina pastor, activist, neighbor, and mother, I wish there were more institutions that were intentional about keeping talent."

Sandra Maria Van Opstal, executive director of Chasing Justice and author of The Next Worship

"This work of research and personal insight has the power to help Christians build inclusive work cultures where everyone belongs and everyone thrives. Throughout this book, Birmingham and Sallinen Simard shine a light on where organizational faith leaders have missed the mark and how they can correct course. This is an important paradigm-shifting book that can transform not just organizations but readers."

Karen Gonzalez, human resources director at World Relief and author of The God Who Sees

"In Creating Cultures of Belonging, the authors begin by calling out the institutionalized misogyny that too often oppresses women in our organizational contexts. Then they articulate a comprehensive and compelling blueprint for organizational transformation—one that engages every aspect of organizational life, including theology, leadership, policy, culture, and more. If you long to see your organization become a place where both women and men can truly belong, this is the book for you."

Rob Dixon, author of Together in Ministry

"Writing in a candid, collaborative, mutually amplifying style that exemplifies the very leadership they commend, Beth Birmingham and Eeva Sallinen Simard offer a book that is desperately needed. In turns both challenging and empowering, it is not only a compelling argument for shared egalitarian leadership in mission agencies but also research-based, theologically grounded, systemic instruction for equipping leaders who default to exclusionary models they have previously seen and in which they have been trained. This is a guidebook to a healthier, more God-honoring way of creating an increasingly effective and flourishing organizational culture. I will be recommending it for my clients, requiring it for my students, and rereading it myself."

Tod Bolsinger, executive director of the Church Leadership Institute and author of Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change

"Whether churches, nonprofits, or corporations, our organizations are deprived of their full potential when we fail to recognize the richness and value of diverse perspectives in God's kingdom. Beth Birmingham and Eeva Sallinen Simard awaken us to the perils of structural sameness and invite us to embrace new possibilities of welcoming and valuing every voice. Creating Cultures of Belonging is for anyone seeking to build a missional community marked by mutuality and respect."

Peter Greer, president of HOPE International and author of The Gift of Disillusionment

"How I wish this book had been available to me decades ago when I began leading at a table filled only with men! Any culture that seeks to be truly inclusive will benefit from taking a deep dive into these pages. Here you will find thoughtful research, practical steps, and real-life stories that inspire both men and women to do better as we seek to serve God's kingdom as brothers and sisters. We can and must do better. This book will help!"

Nancy Beach, leadership coach and coauthor with Samantha Beach Kiley of Next Sunday

"This is an absolute must-read for men and women in leadership. As I lead a global organization, I take pride in the stereotypes my organization has broken. However, the contrast that exists outside this space is not invisible either. The chapter on how most missional organizations have a problem with women was gripping and affirming. The richness of the experience both authors bring to every single chapter is not just evident but also points the reader to introspection. I've oftentimes been referred to as the ambitious, overconfident woman in the workplace, and this book has helped me find peace with being unique, different, and misunderstood."

Anu George Canjanathoppil, CEO of International Justice Mission Canada

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Myal Greene
Foreword by Emily Sarmiento

1. The Missional Organization Has a Problem with Women
2. A Culture of Belonging
3. Imago Dei—Addressing Theology
4. A Clear Case
5. A Reclaimed Organizational Culture
6. Human Resources for Cultures of Belonging
7. Developing People for Cultures of Belonging
8. The Leadership Will to Make a Change
9. Women and Men Beyond the Workplace

The Belonging Culture Framework Summary
Suggested Reading


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Beth Birmingham

Beth Birmingham is an NGO leadership and organizational consultant, development researcher, trainer, and former tenured professor (Eastern University). She is cofounder of BE Development Partners, a consulting firm that trains organizations to develop belonging cultures. Beth holds a PhD in leadership and change and an MBA in economic development, and she currently serves as a member of Wheaton’s Consortium on Gender, Development, and Christianity.

Eeva Simard

Eeva Sallinen Simard is the project director (chief of party) at SCOPE Project at World Relief and has more than ten years of experience working with missional NGOs from research to ministry. She is cofounder of BE Development Partners, a consulting firm that trains organizations to develop belonging cultures. Eeva holds an MSc in international politics from the University of Helsinki and an MBA from John Hopkins University, and she is a coconvener of the Wheaton Consortium for Development, Gender, and Christianity.