5 Tips to Help Make Your Association More Diverse and Inclusive

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are a hot topic for the recruitment industry, with good reason. According to LinkedIn research, there has been a 71% increase in diversity roles over the last 5 years. Also consider that the millennial generation (which now makes up 2/5 of the working population) is 44% minority. The growing rate of diversity has created a cultural generation gap, making it more important than ever to have a strategy for growing inclusion with your organization.

It’s important to understand the difference between diversity and inclusion. Diversity represents the makeup of your organization; the traits, experiences, and demographics of your members. Inclusion refers to how your members feel within your association, the goal being that they feel valued, safe, and welcomed. With that in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into the best ways to make your association more diverse and inclusive.

1. Asses Your Current Diversity

It’s hard to formulate a strategy for diversity and inclusion when you don’t know where you currently stand. You can utilize the list of questions below to determine what parameters to use when evaluating your current members and staff. Most are evaluated by the internal diversity measures, but you can drill down even deeper by looking at categories like external diversity, organizational diversity, and worldview diversity. You can then begin to analyze this data and formulate a strategy that aligns with your association’s values.

  • Does your membership reflect the diversity of the field? If not, what are more diverse organizations doing to recruit and retain members?
  • Does your leadership represent the diversity of your membership? What representation (if any) is missing?
  • Are there any initiatives in place to ensure that all members feel included?
  • Does your association reflect the groups or individuals that the field services?
  • Do you have a committee and/or volunteer leaders dedicated to measuring and improving on diversity and inclusion?
2. Set Goals and Benchmarks

Start brainstorming on what your ideal membership would look like, and set short-term and long-term goals to get you there. It can be something as simple as revising your recruitment strategy to utilize targeting options, to partnering with local organization who support and have a large diverse network.

You could also make diversity and inclusion one of your key ‘pillars’ and plan specific initiatives around that. For example, create a committee dedicated to nurturing diversity and inclusion, and ensure that state and local chapters are aligned with the association’s goals. Don’t forget to make your goals attainable and measurable so you can analyze your success and the impact of your solutions.

3. Lead by Example

Your association is a direct reflection of the people leading it. Their diversity and choices influence the image you project, both internally and to the community at large. If your leaders paint a picture of a non-inclusive association, there will be people who dismiss your organization as not open to them. If your leaders are not open or curious about people of other backgrounds, your members will either follow suit or will leave the organization.

Your leadership should understand the benefits of a diverse organization so they can play to the unique strengths of its members. As members join an association, they want to know that they have the same opportunities as everyone else. Make diversity and inclusivity a value of your association and you’ll attract members and leaders that also hold those same values.

TIP: Ensure that you’re connecting members with mentors who help nurture diversity and inclusion.

4. Implement Inclusive Policies

Recruiting a diverse staff and membership is only the beginning. Everything from the sign-up process to the policies and procedures manual you share should aim to be as easy as possible for those interested in being a part of your association. Modeling inclusive language is a great example of a policy to implement. Also, publicize your policies regarding hostile community behavior and stand by them. If you create a positive organizational culture, you’ll find that your members refer others, building upon the environment you’ve started.

5. Provide Resources

Successful organizations create internal resources, programs, and networking groups to support their members. Offer diversity leadership training to create a safe space for members to discuss diverse topics; this will help set an authentic, inclusive tone for all. Regular communication to members on the progress and priority of diversity and inclusion efforts is integral as well. Listen and respond to your current members, who can help you retain and recruit diverse individuals.

Diversity and inclusion make for a stronger organization. When associations value and nurture members of different backgrounds, they reap the rewards in improved engagement and retention, a strong culture and reputation, and increased profitability. YM Careers can help your association foster diversity and inclusivity through its job board and career center offerings. Find out more: Explore YM Careers.

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