the voice of their entire population. People are
diverse on multiple levels and their diversity
should be embraced.
• Inclusion is the goal. The term “diversity”
implies that some are outside the norm. There is
no norm and we are all diverse.
• Association Forum needs to help associations
adopt new terminologies for gender identification. Millennials use a different language around
gender identity, and it is imperative that this
language is understood.
Key Themes: Staff Recruitment, Onboarding and
• Associations must identify the best candidates
for the job and hire based on skills. Associations
can explore how to build a more diverse pipeline
of candidates. They can advertise job opportunities in places that attract diverse candidates. All
groups agreed that associations should seek the
best and brightest first and cast a wider net to
attract diverse talent.
• Associations need to create equal opportunities among their staff to acquire the skills to
advance into leadership positions.
• Onboarding is critical to the experience of being
welcomed within a company.
• Diversity training is lagging, irrelevant and dated. It comes off as “checking the box,” only at
the awareness level, not actual learning.
Key Themes: Behavior in the Workplace
• There is a perception that white professionals
are more likely to ask for a promotion or an incentive when taking on new projects. Minorities
are less likely to say “no” or ask for a promotion
in similar circumstances.
• There is a perception that the value of networking is inherently understood by white association
professionals but not by other minority professionals. Networking is critical to advancing in
the association industry.
Key Themes: Association Board
• Association boards are typically white. Based
on the industry, there may be gender diversity.
Many boards are still experiencing “firsts.” Such
as the first Black, Latina or LGBTQ member of
• Typically, nomination committees select board
members that they know, so the nomination process should strive to minimize an unconscious
bias on behalf of the nominating committee.
The goal of the Welcoming Environment (WE) program is to equip associations and non-profit organizations with the tools and information they need
to build a WE within their constituent communities
and their internal staff environment.
The Welcoming Environment program is organized around an E- 3 framework: Engagement,
Education and Experience.
The Engagement piece involves encouraging
Valuing differences is a 21st century expectation.”
members and the larger association community to
participate in courageous conversations to push
boundaries, learn from fellow members and drive
innovation. This is to be accomplished through the
conversation circles, as described above, as well a
partnership program to support WE initiatives with
sponsors and other identity-based groups interested
in collaboration. Online communities, including My-
Forum, are a great way for members to drive conver-
sations and for organizations to engage members.
Education is the second part of the E- 3 frame-
work. We want to educate organizations on the
importance of building a Welcoming Environment
within association member communities and
communicate to them proven strategies for success.
Association Forum is proud of our ability to create
powerful and memorable education programs and
events. We look accomplish the education part of
our initiative through an awareness campaign about
the program, providing a WE Resource Kit and peer-
to-peer education at our signature events, including
the new Welcoming Environment Summit at Holiday
Showcase. There will also be year-round education
to bolster the knowledge-base of our members.
The third element is Experience. We have
adopted WE as a core value and we strive to ensure
that every member has the experience of feeling
accepted and welcome in our organization. The
“Diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth—a
finding that should intensify efforts to ensure that executive
ranks both embody and embrace the power of differences.
- Harvard Business Review; How Diversity Can Drive Innovation