Moving from Talk to Action on Diversity and Inclusion
Guest Blog by Elizabeth Weaver Engel
Association executives know that the Millennial generation, which will soon be the majority of our workforce and membership base, is the most diverse generation we’ve ever had in the US. And the yet-to-be-named generation coming up behind them is even more so.
We are also aware of the expanding number of studies showing that increased diversity and authentic inclusion produce more innovation, better decision-making, faster and more creative problem-solving, better outcomes, and an improved bottom line.
We know that embracing and promoting D+I is the right thing to do, on many levels.
And many associations have adopted strong statements that claim a commitment to D+I among their leadership and membership.
Where we often stumble is in turning our beautifully crafted and carefully vetted D+I statements into real change among our staff teams, our volunteer leadership, our memberships, and the professions and industries we serve.
In our new whitepaper Include is a Verb: Moving from Talk to Action on Diversity and Inclusion, Sherry Marts, PhD (S*Marts Consulting) and I tackle the challenge of turning associations’ powerful talk into equally impactful walk.
Sherry and I start by answering some key questions:
- What do we actually mean when we use the term diversity? What about inclusion?
- What “counts” as diversity, and why does it matter?
- What is intersectionality? How does it affect us?
- What is “covering,” and why is it a problem?
- What is tokenism, and how can we move past it?
We then address what makes the association D+I environment unique, namely, associations’ complex and multi-layered relationships with the many audiences we serve. We share some of the barriers to creating genuine diversity and inclusion and strategies for surmounting them. The whitepaper concludes with concrete, practical advice to help your association walk your talk on D+I, starting with addressing individuals’ impediments to embracing diversity, and moving through ways to bring change to your workplace, your volunteer leadership, your membership, and even into the profession or industry you serve.
The whitepaper includes interviews with a DELP mentor/scholar team (Shawn Boynes and Desirée Knight) and with Cie Armtead, the current chair of ASAE’s D+I committee; sidebars from noted D+I experts Jessica Pettitt, Joan Eisenstodt, and Joe Gerstandt; and case studies of three associations that are doing outstanding D+I work for the audiences they serve (the Association for Women in Science, the Entomological Society of America, and the Geological Society of America).
Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, CEO and chief strategist at Spark Consulting LLC, has nearly 20 years of experience in association management.