Thoughts on Belonging

Thoughts on Belonging, Volume One
With Virgil Fludd

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of belonging lately – my sense of it, my history with it and my desire to promote it.

I enrolled at Davidson College in the fall of 1976, and as one of seven African American students in the freshman class, I didn’t feel like I belonged. I felt like I was an experiment – an exchange student of sorts – someone there for the moment who could provide an informal education on coarse hair and unusual accents. What came across to me was you’re not really a part of this team, but we want to learn more about you.

belonging the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group. It is when an individual can bring their authentic self to a group

Nearly 50 years later, and there are still far too many students who still feel that way at schools across the US – who have that sense of they have asked me to be here, but they’ve not created a space where my voice, my perspective is integrated in what happens in this environment.

I think the key thing to remember is that it’s not enough to just invite people in. Merely opening the door and allowing another person to enter is not inclusive. Being given a seat at the table is not the same as being asked to speak at the table.

It is on us as leaders to make people feel like they truly belong where we are, as opposed to just being a curiosity. 

I’ll be examining the topic of belonging as part of a series in the coming months. I hope to hear back from you on your thoughts as well. It’s by conversing about things that we all become more comfortable.

Virgil Fludd resides in Atlanta and is a partner in the Academic, Non-Profit, Social Enterprise and Culture Practice. He has over three decades of executive search experience and is a trusted advisor to organizations seeking operational and cultural excellence.

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