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The Complexities of DE&I in a Global Context

We know we need to do more

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and belonging, all terms that have become part of our everyday lives as association executives. We know we need to do more. We know we need to do better. We know we have responsibilities. But how do we frame our actions unless we reflect on our privileges, biases and assumptions, as individuals and as associations? 

We all have a frame of reference that is shaped by our beliefs and values, informed by our past experiences, our culture, our parents, our environment, our religion and the media, among other influential people, places and experiences. These influences will have shaped our preferences for or against something – our biases. This can also translate into the association world where traditions and processes established over time have led us to where we are now. But, we need to build for the future we want and need it to be. One where privileges, biases and assumptions are challenged, where inequities are addressed and a more equitable inclusive association evolves.

When we have discussions and take actions to advance inclusion the domains of diversity that are most often highlighted are gender, sexuality, race, ability, age and ethnicity. Some or all may appear on internal DE&I audits and job applications. They may be taken into account when reviewing governance structures, such as boards and committees, as well as conference programmes. However, there are other factors that influence opportunities and inclusion, or serve to marginalize significant sectors of our membership, or potential membership, in associations.

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