Category Archive for "DEI"

Words Matter: Ensuring Inclusive Communications

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…

How Associations Can Foster Diversity and Inclusion

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…

5 Hiring Pitfalls to Avoid—If You Want Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Leadership

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…

Building a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Organizational Culture, and Where to Start When Considering an Organizational DEI Assessment

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…

Practical Ideas for Improving Equity and Inclusion at Nonprofits

The journey toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion has no fixed endpoint, but here are a few places to start. The nonprofit sector’s focus on advancing social welfare means that we are responsible not only for implementing effective management practices, but also for holding ourselves accountable to the communities we serve. We know that board diversity improves performance and inclusive teams make better decisions. We know the value of including our communities and program participants in decision-making. Yet while references to equity, inclusion, and diversity (DEI) are seemingly everywhere, as a white executive director, I am acutely aware that nearly 90 percent of all nonprofit executive directors or presidents are white. In my field, environmental conservation and outdoor recreation, people of color hold just 12 percent of staff positions, and participants in outdoor recreation programs overwhelmingly identify as white. Acknowledging intersectionality—the reality that we live within a system of overlapping and interdependent privileges and disadvantages—is a first step toward truly addressing DEI. But how can we make acknowledging intersectionality a practice, and not just a conversation? We can start by making relatively simple changes that center our work at the intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation, ableism, and implicit bias. Here are some practical ways to begin. Start with…