The Board’s DEI Role

Chief diversity officers aren’t the only ones that have an impact on an organization’s ability to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Board members matter, too.

“One common denominator for all of this is the C-suite and board skills development in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Yolanda Chase, chief diversity officer for the Washington Technology Industry Association. “We need to help them to prioritize DEI at the level of strategic priority.”

Chase adds that if boards are not trained properly, they often are not responsive when DEI advocates within the organization seek to make changes. “It’s not about putting [advocates] in front of the board and letting them make their business case,” Chase says. “It’s about preparing the board for acceptance of that competency.”

New research from the ASAE Research Foundation looks at ways association boards approach DEI issues, both as they relate to the board itself and the organization as a whole. In a survey, board members rated the following organizational strategies and practices as most successful in advancing DEI:

Overall DEI

27 percent Regular reporting to the board

25 percent Formal diversity statement

25 percent Regular reporting to the association or public


36 percent Diversity goals tied to compensation

36 percent Hired outside consultant


33 percent Agree about definitions and vocabulary

33 percent Assessment on degree of equity present


45 percent Use small group discussions to avoid groupthink

42 percent Formalized onboarding of new members

41 percent Voting via methods that include all members



Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!