Citizens’ Mike Sebring on Inclusive Work Cultures and the Importance of Belonging

As the concept of belonging becomes more mainstream in corporate settings, I am constantly reflecting on how powerful a single moment can be in changing someone’s life. All it takes is one inclusive or exclusionary behavior to change how someone feels about a person, team, institution or company. Whether you’re responsible for a team of people or an entire organization, it’s important to recognize the power each of us holds to create positive moments of belonging. 

In thinking about a moment of belonging in my own life, I look back at the first 32 years of my career. Working in financial services, I spent the first half of my working life building an image of myself that I thought the world wanted to see. This person was an outgoing young man who loved camping, cars and travel. But that wasn’t the complete picture. I am also gay. 

This one dimension of who I am doesn’t define my entire being, but it did make me fearful of how I might be treated — consciously or not. So, I decided to repress it in conversations with colleagues about weekend plans or discussions about spouses or families. There was only so far that I could take my relationships at work. 

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