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Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to build insight into how the local community impacts an organization’s ability to develop an inclusive culture. The paper introduces the concept of inclusion disconnects as incongruent experiences of inclusion between an organization and its community. Then, using the case of teaching hospitals, the paper empirically demonstrates how individuals and organizations experience and deal with inclusion disconnects across the boundaries of organization and community.

Design/methodology/approach– A multi-method qualitative study was conducted in hospitals located in the same city. Focus groups were conducted with 11 medical trainees from underrepresented backgrounds and semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten leaders involved with diversity efforts at two hospitals. Data analysis followed an iterative approach built from Miles and Huberman (1994).

Findings– The findings demonstrate how boundary conflicts arise from disconnected experiences of organizational and community inclusiveness. Such disconnects create challenges for leaders in retaining and supporting minority individuals, and for trainees in feeling like they could build a life within, and outside of, their organizations. Based on findings from the data, the paper offers insights into how organizations can build their capacity to address these challenges by engaging in boundary work across organizational and community domains.

Research limitations/implications– Future research should build upon this work by further examining how inclusion disconnects between communities and organizations impact individuals and organizations.

Practical implications– The paper includes in-depth insight into how organizations can build their capacity to address such a deep-rooted challenge that comes from a less inclusive community.

Originality/value– This paper contributes to an understanding of how forces from the community outside an organization can shape internal efforts toward fostering inclusion and individuals’ experiences of inclusion.


Required Publisher Statement
© Emerald. Final version published as: Humberd, B. K., Clair, J. A., & Creary, S. J. (2015). In our own backyard: When a less inclusive community challenges organizational inclusion. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 34(5), 395-421. doi: 10.1108/EDI-11-2013-0105
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.