Achieving Success in Diversity and Inclusion

In August, ASAE introduced the 2015-2017 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan as well as new policies on religious diversity and accessibility. We asked the D + I Committee’s Immediate Past Chair and 2008-2009 DELP Scholar Mariama Boney to talk about their important work.

Association Advocacy Chick: What are some of the responsibilities for ASAE’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee?

Mariama Boney: For nearly 25 years, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee has promoted diversity and inclusion in association management, develop recommendations on how to make ASAE’s leadership and membership more diverse, and assisted ASAE with integrating diversity and inclusion into initiatives, education, or programs. The committee also coordinates the ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP).

AAC : Identify some of the most pressing issues for associations when it comes to D + I. 

MB: Some key and most pressing issues for associations include:

  1. Promoting an understanding of and celebrating the various generations and cultures that are working together.
  2. Creating and fostering inclusive environments for all cultural groups to work together effectively.
  3. Growing recruitment, retention and equity of multicultural groups in at all levels – in hiring, membership, and boards.

As associations, we have to be innovative and willing to do something different. We’ve been distracted by the same conversations we’ve been having for years. Association professional must broaden the conversation and move toward action. According to US Census estimates, by the year 2020, the most prominent changes in the US workforce will be in the demographic areas of age, gender, national origin and race/ethnicity. Yet, less than 30% of associations have a Diversity & Inclusion initiative and only 21% have a designated staff person responsible for staff and/or membership diversity & inclusion.

AAC: The D&I Committee developed a new strategic plan for 2015-2017. Talk about some of the key points and what goes into developing such a plan. 

MB: We used the principles of scan, plan, implement, evaluate. The process was 8 months from start to finish.

First, we clarified the terminology regarding diversity, inclusion, diversity + inclusion and cultural competence.

Second,  we reviewed and clarified ASAE’s Diversity and Inclusion statement. Next we worked with a consultant in a day-long session to identify successes, strengths and gaps as well as opportunities to build from the earlier 2012-14 plan created under the leadership of D&I Committee Past Chair, Oleathia Gadsden.

Out of that dialogue and data review, we worked with a consultant secured by ASAE to engage a diverse work group in a visioning dialogue and outlined the impact and accomplishments we wanted to see for ASAE and the association community in 3-5 years. The priorities include a focus on:

  • Resources and Recognition
  • Reach and Relevance
  • Talent Development
  • Relationship Development

Then, the consultant and ASAE Sr. Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Alexis Terry, placed our thoughts, ideas and priorities into a workable framework and organized the ideas into major themes which yielded the primary goals and action steps.

I worked with an awesome core group of DELP class liaisons to engage over 100 association leaders, the ASAE executive team, the work group and the D&I committee to review the initial draft and highlight critical gaps. Finally, edits were made and the plan was formatted into a reader friendly publication by ASAE’s marketing team.

AAC: The D&I Committee assisted with recommendations to address religious diversity and accessibility. What prompted these recommendations? 

MB: The recommendations which are now approved policies grew out of best prescribes and the experiences of some ASAE members. When opportunities arise to be better and serve ASAE members better through suggestions or complaints, we have to gather the facts, examine the experiences and pay attention so we can explore opportunities for advocacy which then yields change.

So, as the opportunities and best practices regarding interfaith issues and accessibility on meeting came to our attention we thought it important to bring some action via policy. You can find these recommendations here. Information on accessibility at ASAE meetings can be found here.

AAC: How does the work of the D&I Committee affect/impact ASAE’s Diversity Executive Leadership Program?

MB: The committee generated the concept of DELP nearly 15 years ago and has served as the coordinating group in partnership with ASAE staff with the selection of each DELP class and the program model. Program operations, logistics and implementation are managed  by ASAE  staff.

The committee reviews the program purpose, goals, marketing, program criteria, selection process and program components and make revisions annually. Since the program has been such a great success with 135 alumni, a DELP subcommittee of the D&I committee now focuses on alumni engagement.

AAC: What will make associations successful in diversity and inclusion for the future?

MB: Have a committed and trained executive leadership team. Equip them with the courage to go beyond being PC about equity, diversity and inclusion. In addition…

  1. Get the Data. Many associations don’t know their strengths and challenges, and opportunities regarding diversity and inclusion which is why the Association Inclusion Index is so important. It is only $199 and well worth the investment.
  2. Develop a plan. Include diversity and inclusion in the strategic plan and integrate it throughout the organization.
  3. Focus on Recruitment. Build a diverse workforce through multicultural outreach.
  4. Measure Retention. Implement professional development and foster inclusive environments to keep a thriving and diverse workforce.

ASAE also created a video highlighting the importance of D+I to the association community and how we as association professionals can take the necessary steps to develop and implement D+I strategies within our own organizations. Check it out today!

Advertisements