What does “belonging” mean to me? 

David Jordan (he/him/his), Chief Growth Officer 

Pride has long held special meaning for me (I’ve written about it here and here). Growing up gay on a dairy and grain farm in central Illinois, I never really grew up as myself.

Instead, I played a version of me — always head down, eyes up and ears to the ground. I sacrificed my authenticity to minimize judgment, humiliation and prejudice. Consequently, the challenge of my adult life, both personally and professionally, has been to unpack which parts of myself are truly me and which parts I took on to protect myself.

These lessons directly inform how I lead. My firsthand experience at struggling to belong drives my commitment to creating a diverse culture and healthy team dynamics. As leaders, we must continually assess the environments we create and observe for our teams, both internally and externally through our client relationships.

We are responsible for fostering cultures that champion authentic team members and provide them the ability to excel. From my perspective, belonging as your true self is the highest level of culture creation for our employees, teams and ourselves.

This does not simply happen. And it’s rarely convenient. Championing belonging requires diverse teaming, constant learning and active listening. It thrives on the honest conversations and disagreements that come from respectful consideration of different perspectives. It requires being aware of how all our individual worlds impact how we show up for our clients and teammates. And it demands true empathy.

My job keeps me fanatically focused on what it means to belong as a client at BR — whether long-standing, new or even a prospect. I truly believe that diversity, inclusion and, ultimately, belonging is the secret sauce to the most inspired teams and, as a result, the kind of work that moves and changes markets. So, I’m committed to driving change and building an even stronger culture of belonging.

And one that, in turn, realizes unforgettable results.

What does belonging mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts via email at or on LinkedIn.

About the Author

A member of the Bader Rutter Executive Leadership Team, David Jordan leads the BR Business Consultancy Group. His eclectic group includes MBAs, a former CMO from an entrepreneurial investment group, a veterinarian and the former commercial operations leader for a multi-billion-dollar business unit of a Fortune 500 company. The BR Business Consultancy Group consults with both inline and specialty clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups in food & beverage, agribusiness and pet care.