Episode Notes

In this episode, Stephanie talks with diversity scholar Dr. Terrell Strayhorn about the concept of belonging, emphasizing its significance beyond buzzwords like diversity, equity, and inclusivity. They highlight the positive outcomes of belonging, including increased job satisfaction and productivity and explore obstacles to fostering belonging. Dr. Strayhorn offers strategies for cultivating a sense of belonging in large organizations. The conversation extends to the ongoing need for addressing challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in leadership and workplaces. Rewarding behaviors that foster belonging, such as recognizing selflessness and facilitating social connections, is also discussed.

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  • 03:27. Where does belonging fit in the DEIB conversation?
  • 26:05. How to create real value for your team
  • 29:42. Celebrating pride month
  • 32:35. Belonging happens when we experience trust



Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts 


Stephanie Everett (00:35): 

Hi, I’m Stephanie Everett. 


Sara Muender (00:36): 

And I’m Sarah Muender. And this is episode 450 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Stephanie talks with Dr. Terrell Strayhorn about creating a sense of belonging on our teams. 


Stephanie Everett (00:49): 

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists, Clio, & LawPay. We wouldn’t be able to do our show without their support, so stay tuned because we’re going to tell you more about them later on. 


Sara Muender (01:00): 

So, Stephanie, it’s Pride Month, and you are talking to Dr. Strayhorn today about the importance of acknowledging people, creating as they are, and creating a sense of belonging in the workplace. And what’s really cool this month is that we’re demonstrating and participating in this here at Team Lawyerist and Affinity, we have challenged everyone on the team to do one thing individually, to celebrate pride or to learn about the L G T Q I A plus community. And when they do, our company is going to make a contribution to a charitable organization that supports these efforts. 


Stephanie Everett (01:43): 

And I think it’s just one quick example of how we’re approaching this topic, how we’re making it a priority for the team and talking about it. And it’s just an example of something you can do. And I love this challenge because it encourages everyone on the team to do something, to learn something or to do something. And when they do and they tell us about it, then we’re responding as a company with this donation. So I just thought it’d be a good reminder of, you know, don’t have to overcomplicate things. The little things matter too. 


Sara Muender (02:12): 

Yeah, I’m really excited to participate in this challenge personally, and it’s got me thinking about how I can support these efforts. And I’m just really proud, honestly, I’m really proud of our company and I’m proud to work at a company that makes us a priority. Now here’s Stephanie’s conversation with Dr. Strayhorn. 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (02:33): 

Hi, I’m Terrell Strayhorn. So glad to be a part of this Lawyerist podcast today. And I am Professor of Education and Psychology at Virginia Union University, where I also direct the Center for the Study of historically black colleges and universities and serve as the principal investigator of the Belonging Lab, which is really closely related to what I get to talk about today with Stephanie. So glad to be here. 


Stephanie Everett (02:57): 

Hey, Dr. Strayhorn, I’m so glad to have you here today. I have been your student now because you’ve come and taught a few sessions for the Affinity Lawyerist team. And so now I get to pick your brain in this format, which I’m excited about. And so I thought we’d talk about belonging. We probably hear the words diversity, equity, inclusivity a lot these days. I hope people are hearing those words. We feel like we’re talking about a lot, but talk to me about belonging and where that fits into the conversation. 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (03:27): 

I mean, you’re exactly right. We hear it all the time. I mean, it’s often how I start blogs that I write these days is everybody’s talking about belonging. And I’m a little concerned about that because I think that belonging should be more than a buzzword and that everyone who’s talking about belonging doesn’t necessarily have a deep understanding of what we mean by that concept. But it is popular and it is very attractive. I think it’s something very human. It is a basic human need, and therefore, I think it resonates powerfully with people. And that’s why and how I kind of explain its immediate pickup to me in my research sense of belonging is feeling it’s a basic need nowadays. I also posit that it is a human right. Everyone, especially in democratic societies, organized like ours, deserves the right to feel like their life matters. 



That they can be safe and secure just as they are, that their identities, no matter how complex and intersecting can be respected and included in society, in the workplace, in the school, in the college university. And so it is a feeling, therefore it can’t be forced. It’s something that we all yearn and desire to experience, but it does require some work. It doesn’t happen automatically. And this is a sort of seems subtle, but it is a pretty significant departure from some who write about and talk about belonging, who believe that it’s natural to feel isolated and alienated. It’s common to feel alone, and that those feelings dissipate with time or they go away in time. And I’m not here to sort of throw stones at someone else’s hypothesis about belonging, but for the kinds of students and groups that I’ve studied, which are generally our most minoritized, most vulnerable, most underrepresented groups in society, from students and people of color to women of color and workplaces to l g, lgbtqia, A two s plus groups, foster youth, those who have contact with the criminal justice system, I just learned from my research that their circumstances in life do not change on their own. 



I’m talking to you because of the connection I had with affinity and the work that you all do as a legal firm. And there are people whose lives are dashed. Their hopes and dreams are dashed because of inequities in the criminal justice system. And consequently, because of those inequitable, unfavorable circumstances that we all are striving to change, they’re less likely to get a job, they’re less likely to get into college. They face all sorts of scrutiny and background checks and barriers to accessing the very thing that they need to feel a sense of belonging. So sense of belonging is important. It is a feeling, it does produce positive outcomes, but it doesn’t happen automatically. So then lastly, what kind of positive outcomes? Well, everything. I mean in my research I’ve shown that people who feel a sense of belonging become the team leader. They are some of the best ambassadors for the employer because they feel the sense of belonging in part because their own values and commitments align with the values and commitments of the organization. And when those align, you feel a real strong, cohesive tie to your place of employment. And therefore you’re not worried about being treated like a stereotype. You’re not worried about being overlooked for some opportunity. You’re not worried about being mishandled or mistreated. So you’re freeing up a lot of bandwidth that allows you to flourish, to be innovative, to be creative, both as an individual and as a team, which does help the company hit its bottom line. 


Stephanie Everett (07:37): 

All of that resonates and makes sense. And it’s interesting that last piece, we actually have had a debate here on our team as part of our job as educating law firms and small business owners why they should care, like why this matters. And it’s easy to go to the argument of, it hits your bottom line, it’s going to make you a better employer, a better company, all these things. And we’ve been struggling with, should that even be the reason anymore? Do we still need to talk about it? Or is it just the fact that it’s the right human thing to do to create a sense of belonging enough and we, what’s the right word? Almost like doing a disservice, a justice to the idea of belonging by putting a profitable carrot at the end of the stick. I hope that made sense, but 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (08:24): 

No, of course it does. Look, I’m torn too. I think that I get the issues and the concerns that people raise as a academic myself, who often talks very openly about both the academic, social, psychological, emotional, and fiscal benefits of, or advantages and contributions of belonging. I do receive some folks who will push back and say, well, this is a very market driven perspective. That’s a very capitalist perspective. And for all of the work that you’re doing that’s trying to be more equity minded, more inclusive, more humanizing, and also push back against these structures and forces that have done so much damage to our way of life and to the groups that I work with and study, why would I tack it on? Well, I think there are a couple of justifications for still discussing this. We got to admit that look, society’s great, but it’s not perfect, right? 



There is this world that exists that is equal and equitable and inclusive, and it’s loving and it’s warm, and we literally are all singing kumbaya, but it doesn’t exist yet. And so because of that, having been a chief academic officer at two private universities who worked directly with the president, but also worked quite often and frequently with board members, I got to tell you, when you’re in the boardroom, there’s nothing that gets discussed without thinking about the financial implications of it, whether that is something that we really want to try to do. And it could be the absolutely, you’re right, it could be the best thing in the world. All the evidence shows we should do this, we should do it now without delay. It’s going to produce positive gains for our students, positive gains for our faculty. But the first question most folks in those boardroom in the boardroom’s going to ask is, one, how much does it cost? 



And then if you’re going to go in a new direction, and I work with corporations who are coming, we’re coming out of the pandemic, they’re trying to recruit their workers back to the workplace, or they’re pivoting and trying to accommodate more remote and hybrid workers. But whether you work in the office or work at home, turns out you still want to feel like you’re a part of the team and that you’re a contribution no matter how small or different, no matter how administrative, operational or frontline, that it makes a difference and it matters and that someone sees it. And so to do that, it takes investment of financial resources. And so the counter-argument for me with the board members and the CEOs, the investors who say, oh my gosh, it costs so much is the return on the investment in belonging is significant. And actually, quite honestly, no matter how much work I’ve done, and others are doing this work too, we don’t know what that return on investment is because it is literally that evidence is accruing daily. 



It’s for a lifetime. People who have been companies for decades do it sometimes in, it’s not about where you are on the organizational chart. I know people who are in the administrative assistant role who assistant to the assistant’s assistant, and they stay for a long period. Why? Because there are few moments where they’re made to feel like they’re insignificant. Their work is not celebrated as an important part of a larger plan to move the institution, the organization forward. So I think people who push back against it, look, we can balance it. There are lots of personal, social, emotional benefits to belonging, but it is undeniable that there are financial gains to it and a long term return on investment. 


Stephanie Everett (12:30): 

I love it. Well, let’s get to the hard stuff because we know we should do it. And as you said, all the reasons why we want to create a sense of belonging in our case for most of our listeners in our workplace, because that’s what we have as small businesses. What are some of the obstacles that we’re challenged with or what do you see as most some of the common obstacles that you think are preventing people from creating that sense of belonging in the workplace? 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (12:55): 

Yeah. So let me offer a couple of thoughts that may be helpful to those in our listening audience. I think that our barriers or challenges to promoting belonging in the workplace can be discussed or located on maybe three kind of different planes as it were. So there’s some things that happen at the sort of individual personal level. There are other things that happen I think at the group level in work settings. And then there’s certainly some structural organizational issues that we must think about and likely re-engineer in order to foster belonging. So now that I’ve gotten to the top, I’ll work my way back down. So at the organizational and structural level, I mean organizations are businesses and corporations, they can be, as we just talked about, hyper-focused on issues of process, issues of efficiency, revenue generation. These are critically important. Any business owner or business person who listens to this podcast is probably nodding incomplete agreement to this. 



These are the things that keep the business going. And business continuity is important for anyone who says, stop talking about business. Let’s just talk about the people. Remember, I mean, as a chief academic officer who led an institution through the pandemic, my number one priority was student success. My number one priority was faculty productivity. But what it looked like on a day-to-day basis was business continuity, keep the doors open, do not allow the business to go under because we’re all depending on it, right? For paychecks and for my students credit. So these are important pieces, but they have to rebalanced a bit because you can look so much at issues of process and efficiency and operations and revenue generation and one, miss the importance of belonging or never think about the people. So one of the barriers is that our perspective and our lens at the organizational level is so broad and it’s really focused on the business that it needs to also be brought into understanding that without the people, there is no business that we prioritize people over processes, people over profits. 



And that’s more than just a tweet you had to think about. Then as we’re looking at creating efficiencies in the company, is it reasonable to do that in light of the size of our staff, the size of our teams, how our teams will get together? There’s a lot of engineering and work that has to happen there. So the barrier is the organizational perspective. And then I think also when you’re in larger organizations, sometimes the sheer size and complexity of it gets in the way of belonging. Belonging is a feeling. So you think about that, it’s got to be felt. And sometimes when organization, now when I say big, I don’t mean that it doesn’t have to be 500 or thousand employees. Sometimes 25 can be large because depending on how you’re structured and how governance is handled, the organization can be difficult for the individual to feel special connected to people seen. 



And so I think part of the consulting work that I do with organizations is helping people make large places feel small. All right? At the group level, we often structure our organizations into separate groups, categories, and then we label them divisions, units, offices. Every now and again, people will use the term team and use it on the org chart, but you take a group of people in an organization, no matter how size, whatever, it’s size, and then we separate them into groups. And usually we organize these groups according to certain skill sets, certain aspects of the business, certain sort of services that we provide to our customers or clients. And that makes logical sense. But from a belonging perspective, it becomes a barrier because when all of the IT people are together and they spend all their time together, it is easy to miss the important role that it plays in satisfying the safety and security needs of the staff over in marketing, or it’s hard for marketing to communicate with it their needs of how they have to digitize certain products or reach certain clientele or certain markets through leveraging various digital media, social media or technology. 



And so we organize ourselves into these very separate groups, and we create in that organization silos, barriers for communication actually for collaboration, for innovation. And so some of the most productive work I think I’ve done with companies as a consultant is helping them think about how do you organize your workplace, your organization, your company, into more integrated groups where there’s enough sort of differentiation of the work so that the marketer still feels like they’re doing with their passion in marketing and that the IT specialist is still doing that and the person logistics can do this, but then maybe the three or four of them create a team or a pod where there is sufficient interaction and engagement discussion of things. And sometimes this doesn’t work because the organization’s too large, but you don’t then restructure the teams. You just build in communication channels and other kind of flows, workflows and process flows that allow that kind of sharing to happen. 



It’s through the workflow, it is through the sharing, it’s through the communication that belonging happens because belonging is a feeling that gets activated when one, we feel and experience trust that I trust you as my colleague to get your work done and get things done. And hey, I need you to do this so that I can meet the deadline. And when we start depending on each other in the book, I talk about belonging, being related to mattering, mattering, having multiple components to it. One of them is the sense of dependence. People feel a sense of belonging when they feel like they matter and they feel like they matter when they know that they play an important role in people need them for something. So by creating an organizing teams units in offices in a way that has an appropriate division of labor, there’s enough overlap that people see how their contribution fits in the larger plan, and it’s up to the leader. 



And I’m not just calling out people, I’m saying even when I’ve served in leadership, I’ve seen that as my role. It’s to always keep their eye on the North Star and know how all of this fits together into communicate it in written, in oral forms, sometimes in staff meetings, sometimes in annual reports. But we got to figure out how do we help people see how all of this fits together and that their role is important. When we experience that, we feel like we matter, and that leads to belonging. And then lastly, we have barriers at the individual level, and we know what many of those are. I think our understanding of belonging in workplaces is heaviest. It’s its most dense at the individual level, and we still have workplaces that are not yet free from bias, free from verbal harassment, be free from teen conflict, and where people can’t feel free to show up their authentic selves and feel safe and secure, and safety and security is not just physical, although that’s important. 



It’s also that someone can show up just as they are, whether they are trans-identified, whether they come from a low income background or whether they’re living with a disability visible or invisible, that they can show up to work, know that they were hired to do a job that fits into a larger plan, and that they are safe, secure, respected as a professional, as an expert for their expertise for doing that job. So we’ve got to continue to do anti-bias training. We’ve still got to do a lot of anti-racist training in workplaces. We’ve still got to grow our own leaders. We still have the help managers and leaders know how to be fair and equitable in their evaluation of staff. I was at a meeting last week where one of the CEOs of a company and I were having coffee, and he said, I think sometimes those are just really small things, and they are, my name is Terrell, but I can’t tell you the number of times people have called me, Tyrell, Terrence, Juan, whatever. 



And I know that sounds really small and I’ve got lots more examples, but when you go to a place, and I appreciate this as an employer, I realize every day someone gets up in the morning, brushes their teeth, get stressed, and thinks enough of the work that we’re doing that they come to work. I think the pandemic heightened my appreciation for the fact that the decision to get up and go to work is communicating to the employer. I believe in this place. I kind of believe in what we’re doing. That’s what motivates me to do it every single day. Otherwise, I guess with limited time, we we’d quit and go do something else. But when people get up every single day and come and make to that desk, log into the computer, part of their motivation is they believe that what they’re doing is important to the company, to its bottom line. And so they do it. And when they get there, whether they’re joining us by screen or in person, no one wants to walk into a room where they think people know them because they’ve worked there a couple years and then hear their name mispronounced or the wrong pronoun, or that the shout out for this team just sort of overshadows any reference to the contribution that I made to the success of that product or that event. It really can seem small, but the impact can be quite sizable. 


Stephanie Everett (22:57): 

Yeah, all of that resonates. Let’s take a quick break and hear from our sponsors when we come back. I want to dig into a couple of maybe some specific advice you can give us that we can use in the workplace. 

Zack Glaser: 

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Stephanie Everett (26:05): 

All right, I’m back with Dr. Strayhorn. You’ve been reminding us. I feel like that last point was so easy as a business owner to forget, which is that when our team members show up each and every day, they’re affirming that they want to be here, that they enjoy the work they’re doing, they’re recommitting to that effort. And I think it’s easy for us to lose sight of that, and we owe it to our team members to not take that for granted and to create these workspaces where they do feel like they belong. And I know a lot of us feel like we’re doing so many things, we’re trying really hard, and maybe we’re worried, are we doing enough? Are we getting it right? But I wonder if you could help us there, what are some strategies we could use or even some real practical tips because I know a lot of us, we think about it and are we just ticking the box? Are we really creating value for our team? 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (26:57): 

I mean, the mechanics of building belonging in the workplace, the blueprint, RA rather starts with this. And I think anyone who still tuned in and listening to us, you’re off to a great start. It starts with, I once worked for a provost who I think was a really incredible leader, and he said to me one time that some of our hardest challenges require resources, time, and will. And that in his opinion, the hardest of these to get for the kinds of d e I issues that we’re talking about is will that you could find the resources to conduct a equity study and find out where the gaps are in terms of pay, and then build a plan for starting to deal with those inequities for women and people of color in the workplace. By the way, that is one way to start to build belonging. 



But you could find the resources nowadays, especially with so many people investing in DEI post George Floyd post Black Lives Matter, not Black Lives Still Matter. It’s not post Black Lives Still Matter, but post the movement that hit us in 2020, right? That you could find the resources to build leadership development programs that would move more women into the C-Suite, more people of color, more L G B T folks into the C-Suite, more people living with disabilities. Again, that is a way to build belonging. But the hardest thing to re, and you could make time for it, especially when you’re the leader, you could stop in a staffing as I did and say, I just want to pause for a moment and celebrate, fill in the blank. The contributions of this is, I don’t know when this will air, but in a couple days it will be Pride month. 



It’s a great time for employers to take deliberate steps to celebrate L G B T life culture history and contributions. And let me just open that can up for you there, right? No matter who you are, no matter who’s listening, I can almost guarantee you that you have a member of your team, a member of your board, a member of your family, a member of your kid’s school, a client, a family member of a client investor. I mean, the world is so broad. We always think, well, I don’t know of anyone in my team. You have no idea what your team is, right? Yeah. But if you think about the universe of people that there’s a beneficiary somewhere of the services that you provide who may likely identify as LGBTQIA two s plus. So for that reason, the company pauses takes time to commemorate pride. 



And you can do it in a lot of different ways. And I’ve seen lots of companies do this. One, write a letter posted on your website, celebrating it, acknowledging your awareness of pride. Month two, have an event in the workplace. Three, I know several CEOs who are on an advisory board for my company who are literally pausing to take their team out to Pride celebrations. It is paid time off for you to go to a pride celebration. There are social media campaigns and things that can be done there. There are ways that you can celebrate, build a platform for people in the team or outside the company to come and educate us. Because here’s the thing, it’s not just about celebration, although that’s critically important. It’s also about education. So we are still living a world. I told you earlier, there’s going to come a day where we will live in a world that’s perfect, and it’s beautiful and it’s wonderful, and all of us can feel free, safe, celebrated and seen. 



It doesn’t exist yet. And so until it exists, we still need time to talk about the challenges that L G B T folk face in leadership face in the workplace facing getting a job. And so I think this is a great month to do it. And those kinds of investments that are visible, seen, they take time and that they’re including all people. You don’t have to be L G B T Q to go to a Pride parade. Pride parades if nothing else. I think they’re about pride for everybody. And whenever I’ve gone to one, I have felt this energy that transcends any one identity. I mean, I remember being in New York City one time and at Pride, I wasn’t there for pride. I was actually there to speak at a law school of all things, but it happened to be during pride. So I ended up going to the parade or out to the parade, and I remember seeing a family that was clearly a woman who was likely straight identified with her husband, their three or four kids, and I think a dog or two, and all of them had on Rainbow. 



And I was just touched by the presence, the clear presence of allies with members of the community. And I felt connected. Now it’s important for the story. Didn’t understand those. That whole entire family was white. I don’t know if you’ll ever see me, I’m black. But it transcended those racial differences because it was like in that moment, we were there celebrating the importance of community, the beauty of love, that love wins and loves for everyone. That is what we can do when we do that in the workplace. It does build belonging. And then lastly, pride can live on forever, by the way. But yes, beyond June. Yes, beyond June, but it is recognized in the month of June. And so I guess the question is what about after June? There are ways that we can institutionalize these efforts through employee resource groups at book clubs and affinity groups, no pun intended to in Affinity in the right firm. 



But I think these are showing to be pretty promising practices for how you build belonging in the workplace. And then in my book that’s coming out on workplace belonging, I talk about employers who are happy to host happy hours and virtual connections with their team. So since the belonging happens, when we experience trust, I told you that earlier also happens when we experience a sense of ego extension, that we can experience aspects of ourself and another person and that no matter maybe how different we might look or how different our height or what different area we work in, we actually share something in common. So you think about it that sometimes can come up in a staff meeting and sometimes it can come up in the staff retreat. But until we build spaces where people can come together inside work, outside work formally and informally talking about work, talking about life, we don’t have that kind of sharing that can lead to that kind of connection. 



So anything that we can do that would bring teams together to talk both about work, but also about themselves to the leaders who will listen to the podcast, you can model this. So one of the things I tried to do as I started learning more about it is I would come into places and talk about the fact that I’m a professor and I’ve run centers and I’ve published a lot of things, and that’s great. But my daughter who might listen to this podcast one day, my daughter about five years ago promoted me from dad to granddad. I don’t go by granddad, I go by papa. So I got this beautiful granddaughter named Kinsley. I love talking about Kinsley. I love showing pictures of Kinsley. And I will find any moment in a meeting, a retreat to either show a picture of Kinsley, talk about Kinsley, where she’s, what she’s doing nowadays, what she’s playing with. 



And I have had more points of connection with people who are different from me, many times older than me, of a different race, of a different economic background from different areas, and we’re connecting over our joy about those who we love, our kids, grandkids, what they’re interested in. So we have to be intentional to create space where employers can come, employees, staff can come together for that kind of sharing. Sometimes it’s a icebreaker, but it can be more than that. I think our reward structures often signal what we care about. So we end up giving awards to people who worked forever, who worked a long time, who put in a lot of hours, who went above and beyond the call of duty. That is important. But we could also imagine reward structures that celebrate the kind of behaviors we want repeated people who do something selfless for the team, people who are newcomers to the team. 



I have a colleague who does a very good job of creating spaces for people to come together. Sometimes it’s over coffee, they’re writing groups, but he loves that sort of social, he’s not being paid for it. It’s not in his job description, but maybe there’s a way to celebrate that so that people say, oh, wow. Well, if Stephanie got an award for finding ways for us to connect, maybe that’s something I could think about too. I think put all of those together. That’s several ideas. Some require more time in planning than others about how we can fashion environments that will facilitate belonging. 


Stephanie Everett (36:03): 

You just gave me a great idea. I’ve probably mentioned it on the show before, but my mother-in-law is a children’s book author. She writes a lot about race. She grew up in the south in Mississippi during the Voting Rights Act, and so she cares deeply about all of these topics. But one thing she always tells me, and she teaches children today, if you know someone’s story, it’s really hard to hate them, right? It’s really hard to hold that those whatever feelings, I don’t know, maybe hates even whatever negative feeling you have. And so we have a obligation to hear and listen to each other’s stories. So you just inspired me because I’m going to reward people on our team for sharing their story, and that’s something that I can do. So thank you. 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (36:48): 

My pleasure. 


Stephanie Everett (36:48): 

And I love all of this. I guess we do need to wrap up, but are there any resources? I know we’ll put a link to find your book that’s coming out. Are there any other kind of places you would recommend us go to if we want to dig in and learn some more about what we can do to create belonging? 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (37:04): 

Absolutely. Thank you for the shout out to the book, both the one that exists and the one that’s forthcoming. I will certainly share any links to some blogs that I’ve written about workplace belonging as a little bit of a teaser for the book before it comes out. But the best way I think, to keep up with my thoughts in writing about belonging because they are ever evolving every minute, every day is to connect with me on social media. So I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn, Terrell Strayhorn, on all things social media. I am at TL Strayhorn, and I have a piece that looks at workplace belonging that just like Stephanie and I were just talking about, sort of calls out some really doable, approachable, promising practices. It helps you understand the importance of employee resource groups and team building exercises, the kind of tele support that we were talking about earlier, as well as the awards and promotion. 



And so if you read that you have thoughts, hit that reply button. Give me some thoughts and feedback. If you know of some places that you think are doing it well or if you yourself are doing it well, I’m going to invite you to connect in that way. But no matter what, just remember this belonging may sound very buzzwordy and popular. It’s everywhere. When you start reading about it, it can sound very overwhelming and big or so fuzzy that it may be difficult to understand how to mount, but I believe this is to build environments where people feel a sense of belonging. It’s necessary. You can do it starting today. It starts with the will to start looking inward, not outward. So you don’t actually need to read the book or read the blog to get started on belonging. You first got to do an assessment of what are people’s experiences. 



I’ve talked to so many CEOs who can tell me all about hitting the bottom line, hitting their targets, hitting their goals and objectives, but they are clueless about how their people felt in the journey to achieving those goals, getting to the goal, and the people are exhausted. They don’t like the place, they don’t like you, they don’t like each other. That is not success. But getting to the goal, maybe even exceeding the goal, and people having a good journey there and feeling like they mattered along the way, and that no matter how you grew or what challenges you face, that the organization, it’s leaders, it’s managers in each other that we never lost sight of each other. That is what we’re talking about when it comes to belonging and the kind of things we’re talking about in this podcast and that you’ll read in the pod, the blogs and so forth will help you get there. 


Stephanie Everett (39:39): 

I love it. Thank you so much for being with me today. 


Dr. Terrell Strayhorn (39:42): 

My pleasure. Anytime. 



The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you. 

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Stephanie Everett

Stephanie Everett is the President of Lawyerist, where she leads the Lawyerist Lab program. She is the co-author of the bestselling book The Small Firm Roadmap and is a regular guest and co-host of the weekly Lawyerist Podcast.

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Dr. Terrell Strayhorn

Dr. Terrell Lamont Strayhorn is one of the most prolific and influential scholars in the fields of education, psychology, and the academic study of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). He was named of the country’s “Top Diversity Scholars” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. One of his core passions is translating research-to-practice in ways that improve the material conditions and lived experiences of our most vulnerable populations. He accomplishes this mission largely through the more than 2000+ public talks, distinguished lectures, and keynotes he has delivered across the globe. He is President and CEO of Do Good Work Consulting Group, a minority-owned business that partners with hundreds of colleges, universities, corporations, and agencies each year to enhance culture, build inclusive environments, and boost belonging in ways that raise morale, increase retention, improve people’s journey, and help organizations hit their bottom line. He is Diversity Scholar-in-Residence at Harrisburg Area Community College, Fellow of AGB’s Institute for Leadership & Governance, and member of several non-profit boards including Minds Beyond Measure, Rainbow Labs, and the MCT Educational Foundation. 

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Last updated August 10th, 2023