The Executive - September/October 2017 - 13
Diversity is Not Inclusion
"Diversity" encompasses all the ways people can be different
from each other, which extends to both protected class
characteristics like race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation,
disability, and veteran status and to things like socioeconomic
class, level of education attained, urban/rural background, and
family structure and composition.
"Inclusion" occurs when all people have equal and meaningful
opportunities to participate and contribute regardless of their
differences, and without having to hide those differences or
conform to the norms of the dominant culture or way of being -
that is, without having to assimilate or pretend to be someone or
something one isn't.
Diversity is required for inclusion, but it is not, by itself,
sufficient. Diversity is being invited to the table. Inclusion is being
asked to plan the event.
Associations Face Complex Challenges
Most business D&I efforts focus on staffing and boards of
directors, in part because those are the only groups with which forprofit organizations have ongoing, deep relationships. Associations
face the same challenge of ensuring diversity and inclusion among
staff as for-profits, but also have different relationships with
your boards of directors and other volunteer leaders, ongoing
relationships with your members, and responsibility to the
professions and industries you serve, and thus have a broader role
to play in increasing diversity and supporting inclusion efforts.
Joan worked with the board of directors to reaffirm their
commitment to increasing the diversity of GMA leadership and
membership. The board made the D&I statement one of the pillars
of a new strategic plan, and asked Joan to reach out to active
members of the various caucuses and identity groups to identify
candidates for board service. The board did unconscious bias and
ally trainings, resulting in changes to board processes that were
exclusionary. Several caucus members joined the board and more
were being groomed for leadership positions.
Compared to for-profits, associations have more complex
relationships with their boards of directors, because board
members are volunteer leaders, members of the association,
and members of the profession or industry the association
serves. Meanwhile, the advancement and selection of volunteer
leaders at all levels of governance is subject to the same kind of
biases that occur in the workplace. A key remedy is to find ways
to diversify the candidate pool, including reviewing selection
processes for inherent bias. And beware of tokenism. Treat the
"first" (woman, person of color, LGBTQ person, person with a
disability) as an individual who has their own perspective rather
than The Voice of Their Group.
Joan then focused on the annual meeting, beginning with a
survey of how welcome and safe women, people of color, LGBTQ
people, and people living with disabilities felt at GMA meetings.
Based on the survey results, GMA staff worked with the program
committee and the caucuses to create a code of conduct that
explicitly prohibited harassment at GMA meetings and related
events and detailed a process for dealing with any incidents.
GMA modified session formats to make events more accessible to
people with disabilities; provided ally training for speakers and
To learn more about how you can leverage the variety of relationships
your organization has with your audiences to create genuine diversity
and inclusion, download your free copy of Include is a Verb: Moving
from Talk to Action on Diversity and Inclusion at http://bit.ly/2peWwP0.
session moderators; and, with board support, set rules regarding
the proportion of speakers who would be women, people of color, or
members of other underrepresented groups.
Look for ways to make inclusion a priority in all your interactions
with members. Start with your meetings, conferences, and events.
* Create and enforce an anti-harassment policy specifically for
meetings and events
* Avoid conflicts with all major religious holidays, not just
* Choose meeting venues that provide disability accommodations
that go beyond the minimum of compliance with the Americans
with Disabilities Act.
* Make sure your choice of geographic location does not conflict
with your D&I statement.
* Review the images and themes of your marketing materials with
an eye to exclusionary interpretations.
* Ensure the availability of gender-neutral restrooms.
* Provide food choices that accommodate the needs of people with
allergies or who observe other dietary restrictions.
* Hold social and networking events that don't involve alcohol.
Associations also have a role to play in increasing D&I throughout
the professions and industries you serve, beyond the practitioners
who've chosen to be members. While eliminating barriers to inclusion
in a profession is a tall order, one way to get started is by building
coalitions of associations that have overlapping or complementary
memberships, to address overarching barriers to inclusion.
Into the Future
Five years later, the challenging work on D&I had paid off for GMA.
Membership numbers and attendance at the annual meeting were
up, and the diversity of committees and the leadership pipeline
had improved. Even more rewarding for Joan and her staff were
the results of a new member survey showing a real impact on the
engagement and satisfaction of all their members.
If you've decided you'd like to duplicate GMA's success, take
the time to identify areas where your association is doing well,
and areas where you'd like to do better. Active support from your
association's staff and volunteer leadership is critical. Gain clarity on
the outcomes you want: What does inclusion look like for your staff,
leadership, members and profession?
Start locally, with yourself. Learn more about your implicit
biases (we all have them) and about ways to counter them. Then
think about one thing you can work on to make your workplace more
inclusive. Then identify one member program that you can enlist
your volunteers and members to help you transform. Small steps will
add up to big shifts over time.
Elizabeth W. Engel, M.A., CAE of Spark Consulting and
Sherry Marts, Ph.D. of S*Marts Consulting are the authors of
the white paper "Include is a Verb: Moving from Talk to Action on
Diversity and Inclusion."
C a l S A E ' s TH E E X E C UTI VE - S E P TE M BE R/ O C TO BE R 2 0 17
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Executive - September/October 2017
Chair’s Message: Leadership Is an Exciting Journey!
At a Glance
What Stewards Do
How to Move From Talk to Action on Diversity and Inclusion
Association Advocacy Thrives in ‘fake News’ Era
Leading Major Change Efforts: Can Ancient Tribal Wisdom Show the Way?
Member Spotlight: Anne Marie Mourhess
Index to Advertisers
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Intro
The Executive - September/October 2017 - cover1
The Executive - September/October 2017 - cover2
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 3
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Chair’s Message: Leadership Is an Exciting Journey!
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 5
The Executive - September/October 2017 - At a Glance
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 7
The Executive - September/October 2017 - What Stewards Do
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 9
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 10
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 11
The Executive - September/October 2017 - How to Move From Talk to Action on Diversity and Inclusion
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 13
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 14
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 15
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Association Advocacy Thrives in ‘fake News’ Era
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 17
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Leading Major Change Efforts: Can Ancient Tribal Wisdom Show the Way?
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 19
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 20
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 21
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Advancing Associations:
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Destination: Colorado
The Executive - September/October 2017 - New Members
The Executive - September/October 2017 - 25
The Executive - September/October 2017 - Index to Advertisers
The Executive - September/October 2017 - cover3
The Executive - September/October 2017 - cover4