The Executive - September/October 2017 - 12
How to Move From
Talk to Action
on Diversity and Inclusion
By Elizabeth W. Engel,
M.A., CAE and
Sherry Marts, Ph.D.
oan, the new CEO of the Generic Membership Association (GMA),
is frustrated. A few years before her predecessor retired, the GMA
Board hopped on the diversity and inclusion (D&I) bandwagon. They
formed a diversity committee, recruited underrepresented people to
serve on it, and created a beautifully written D&I statement. The D&I statement
was approved by the board of directors, who congratulated themselves on a job
When Joan arrived, though, she found a culture that still assumed that all the
members were straight white men with stay-at-home wives, which permeated
the experiences of staff, volunteers, members and conference attendees. GMA
members had resorted to forming "caucuses" and "interest groups" in an attempt
to diversify programs, but volunteer interest in maintaining those groups, and
thus their effectiveness, waxed and waned over the years. The board of directors,
the presenters at the annual meeting, and the award winners were still mostly
white men. And GMA had a hard time recruiting and retaining a diverse staff.
Where, Joan asked herself, do I begin?
Ca lSAE's T HE E XEC U T IV E - SE P T E M B E R/ O C TO BE R 2 0 1 7