By Virgil Fludd
HR Partner, Caldwell
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.
Belonging is defined as 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 of others.
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 is Key
Nearly 50 years later, and there are still far too many students who still feel this way in schools across the US – who have that sense of, “They have asked me to be here, but they have not created a space where my voice, my perspective is integrated into 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 treated as a curiosity.
I hope to hear your thoughts on this topic as I examine it over the coming months. It’s by conversing about things like this that we all will become more comfortable with each other.
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