A growing number of associations are developing strategies to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive boards. Eighty-five percent of respondents to a recent survey have implemented a DEI strategy for their board or plan to in the next year.
But the findings, developed by Trifecta Research Group for the ASAE Research Foundation, also reveal that associations largely focused on “the D in DEI,” according to Lynn Adelmund, vice president of market research at Trifecta, while leaders often struggled to effectively address equity. In fact, 49 percent of respondents had not pursued any leading strategic practices to advance equity on their board.
Compared side by side with other responses, the data confirmed that focusing on diversity is not enough.
“The myth that needs to be dispelled is that positive change is going to happen on its own—as a natural progression due to societal changes,” Adelmund said. “That’s just not going to happen. The people who actually took action are the ones getting the results.”
Those results include new ideas and greater creativity from the board, increased empathy, and an improved ability to leverage board members’ talents. Linda MacKenzie, senior vice president for client solutions at Trifecta, specifically points to the reputation boost an association receives, especially with younger, more diverse generations, when it supports authentic DEI strategies among its leaders.
“The millennials and Gen Zs care a lot,” said MacKenzie. “They join organizations that align with their values. These are generations that are acutely aware of inclusivity.”