Words Matter: Ensuring Inclusive Communications

Gayle Brandel
As associations welcome an increasingly diverse membership into the fold, the way they communicate is crucial. This is why many organizations are adopting more inclusive language that better reflects the whole community. As the world’s population becomes more diverse across every demographic category, so do the people who belong to your association. To ensure that all members feel included, associations have been making adjustments to the language they use. While some view language changes as superficial or go so far as to label them pejoratively as “virtue signaling,” experts say the shift is critical. “It’s important to remember that communication defines the identity of the organization,” says Nneka Logan, Ph.D., an associate professor of communication at Virginia Tech. “That is why it is important to communicate in an inclusive way. The things you say define you as an organization and can affect the way you are perceived in the public, by members and nonmembers.” Associations that are looking to adopt more inclusive language typically have a mission to be inclusive, according to communications expert Beth Hampton. “I’ve been a marketer for a number of associations,” says Hampton, who is currently vice president of marketing and communications at the American Association for...
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How Associations Can Foster Diversity and Inclusion

blackoliveco
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as an organizational and membership strategy is a priority for many associations today. Many professionals are members of trade associations to expand their networks in a related industry. Their reasons for selecting one association over another varies from popularity to quality of education. Associations provide an easy way to identify the “whos” in performance, quality and/or expertise. They also encourage members to get more involved in activities that impact their industry, making associations a great breeding ground for leadership pipelines. How Many Associations Are There? The short answer: a lot. According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the number of associations grows at a healthy pace annually. As defined by ASAE, there are more than 1.6 million in the U.S. ASAE is a membership organization of more than 44,000 association professionals and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Although there are many associations, there is a commonality between each of them that is often unaddressed like the proverbial elephant in the room—they lack in diversity of social identifiers across multiple dimensions. The associations that have emerged as the most well-known have homogenous senior leadership teams, a board of directors and active volunteers. Their struggle...
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3 Ways Managers Can Keep Top Talent

Gayle Brandel
Know these essentials for successful talent-focused leadership Never before have companies relied so heavily on their human assets for their competitive advantage. You need your best people to stay, regardless of economic ups and downs. By stay, we mean that your talented people have not just checked in but are tuned in and turned on, as well. They are engaged in the business of the business. Successful talent-focused leaders select great people who fit well with the organization’s culture, mission, and values. They also ensure that people they select possess the leadership attributes, competencies, skills and personal traits needed to succeed in the position. Selecting the “right” person for the job, one who fits with the organization and the position, increases the likelihood they will stay longer. Here are three essentials for keeping your best people. Support learning and growth Once they have hired the right people, talent-focused managers look for ways to continuously grow and develop their people’s talent. They help them identify multiple career options and identify opportunities for moving laterally and vertically. They look for ways to enrich and enliven their work. They make every effort to increase the time people spend doing work they love. They...
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5 Hiring Pitfalls to Avoid—If You Want Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Leadership

Gayle Brandel
The world of philanthropy is having its reckoning when it comes to equity, and the time couldn’t have come soon enough. Across the country, organizations are seeking to be more thoughtful about how they approach the communities they serve and take steps to embed equity into their work. But it takes more than talking a good game to bring good intentions to life. To make legitimate progress, we must move beyond words and into actions. And that starts with how and who we hire. It’s no secret that philanthropic organizations continue to be dominated by leaders who are largely white and male (although that is slowly changing). They are also predominantly led by individuals who have attended the right schools, followed similar career paths, and are developed and hired using the same criteria that were followed for their predecessors. To create an equitable culture in philanthropy, we must do much more than consider gender and skin color when we make hiring decisions. Instead, we should also be working to ensure that we identify smart, committed people regardless of where they grew up or went to school—or who they know. As a result, no matter how much we talk about making...
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Building a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Organizational Culture, and Where to Start When Considering an Organizational DEI Assessment

Gayle Brandel
Creating, supporting, and sustaining an inclusive, equitable work culture where all staff members are comfortable and effective (no matter employee/volunteer background or experience level) is imperative for organizational success. To gauge areas for organizational inclusivity improvement, review the following: When the last time a DEI review was performed to assess staff experience and uncover areas for improvements? Are the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and dignity for all reflected in your organizational culture? Do you have a written vision statement and or strategic plan for DEI? If it exists, when was it last updated and is it being used to educate the staff and promote a positive culture? Do you continue to promote your organizational beliefs and stand up and make room for all voices? Do you insist on a culture of respect, and recognizes that words and actions matter? The absence of action and words also matter. Do you believe in the freedom of speech, and encourage the civil and respectful expression of ideas and opinions? Do you share in the responsibility to create a positive culture and to safeguard equity, inclusion, dignity, and respect for all? Do you have a culture that takes action when you observe someone...
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