Creating an environment that promotes equity at an association means not just creating equal opportunities for people who are already in your loop. It means addressing the circumstances that prevent it.
The Emergency Nurses Association, for instance, had been seeing groups of members left behind when it came to advancing in the profession. “In general, we have a small pool of our membership who are prepared at the doctoral level, who can do higher-level research,” said Altair Delao, senior associate, emergency nursing research at ENA. “The number of people who come from underrepresented groups is even smaller.”
In response, earlier this year ENA launched its Emergency Nursing Diverse Voices Research (ENDVR) Fellowship, a two-year program supporting researchers in the field from those underrepresented groups.
The program is one product of a recent effort at the association to ramp up its DEI efforts. But one challenge around equity in membership is that an association is often trying to connect with people who, because of those inequities, do not know the association and its discipline exist. That means marketing and outreach of the program has been just as important to the program as the program itself.
According to Aaron Coats, marketing specialist at ENA, the ENDVR Fellowship was promoted to nursing groups outside of ENA, websites focused on minority nurses, and through direct contact with nursing leaders who could promote the program.
But achieving true equity will likely require starting outreach even earlier, said ENA’s senior manager, learning services, Rashonda Legault.
“We have a comprehensive document outlining different targets—reaching out to elementary schools and high schools, going to career fairs and community colleges, and determining what kinds of materials need to be developed,” Legault said.