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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in a Global Context

In recent years, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) has become an increasingly important issue for companies and nonprofits, including nonprofit associations, in the United States. But many leaders of associations struggle to attract and retain minority board members, leaders, and employees. Many also fail to address DE&I from a global perspective and view it through a more traditional U.S.-centric lens. How can you ensure thoughtful DE&I at your organization?

The first step is to examine why D&I is important to you. Maybe it’s because your members or staff demand it or because your membership looks and sounds different than it did 5 to 10 years ago. Hopefully it is because you also understand the value of diversity and the need to be equitable and inclusive. Whatever the “why” is, it’s important to be honest about it.

Once you’ve established the “why” behind DE&I, it’s time to start collecting data. Gather qualitative and quantitative information from a variety of sources, such as members, staff, industry leaders, and those outside of your organization. This will help you better understand needs and how to create inclusive spaces for all.

Next, think about whether your DE&I initiatives are globally inclusive. That is, if you are a global organization with teams, board members, and/or customers around the world, a U.S.-centric approach isn’t going to work. “Diversity” has a much broader meaning when looked at from a global lens and your work won’t truly be “inclusive” If you fail to understand the differences. While DE&I is a global issue, it can be drastically different from country to country.

Personify, a community based “experience platform,” encourages associations to solicit input from a truly diverse DEI committee with members from different races, ethnicities, abilities, and backgrounds. This helps create an environment where people feel safe to bring up DE&I-related concerns to the leadership team.

DE&I has been an emerging issue for associations in recent years and is only becoming more relevant in 2023. It’s time to have a more meaningful conversation in your meeting rooms and consider inviting facilitators in to help with discussions which may often become quite sensitive and complicated.

Remember that the key to a truly inclusive DE&I effort is to embrace cultural humility and be intentional in understanding that our way is not the only way. In this case, the U.S. way is not the only way. At the end of the day, isn’t this what DE&I is all about?

Need help refining your DE&I program? Rely on our business consulting services, headquartered in Washington, DC, to support your efforts. Contact us today.

January 26, 2023