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How this survey revealed the racial inequities in the association industry

image AshleyNeal image imageOctober 01, 2020 image image3 min. to read
How this survey revealed the racial inequities in the association industry

As the world reacted to and wrestled with the social inequities caused by systemic and institutionalized racism brought to the world’s attention by the recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Sidecar made a commitment to reflect and consider how we can be part of the solution to bring forth a better world for everyone in it.

Not only have we examined our internal and external practices, we have also made an effort to help other organizations do the same. We hosted “Rooting out racism: How to get started at your association,” a workshop led by Dialogue on Race Louisiana CEO Maxine Crump on the first steps interested leaders can take at their own associations to empower themselves and others to begin dismantling some of these systemic inequities, and we made that workshop freely available for anyone in the future. (You can access it here right now.)

While Sidecar has continued to pursue other opportunities to feature more diverse voices and promote anti-racism actions in our organization, we have also sought to understand the impact systemic racism has had on other associations to change the industry for the better. 

But what, exactly, were we to change? Little data about diversity in this wide and varied industry was available. We wanted to know who gets to make decisions in this industry, and who doesn't; who gets recognized for their work, and who doesn't; and what it's actually like to work day-to-day for women and people of color.

To explore this, we unveiled our own survey, Benchmarking Diversity in the Association Industry 2020, a survey aimed at professionals who work for social and professional organizations. Though we firmly believe diversity matters everywhere, including within the vendors who target this industry, we’ve put our focus here because we believe that creating change in these organizations can impact every industry and social group they bring together through their publications, education and community-building.

What we found was not surprising. 

Of the 276 respondents, more than 80% reported that their organizations do not offer diversity training, such as unconscious bias training, during the onboarding process. Outside of onboarding, nearly half said they have not received diversity training since.

No segment (male, female, white, BIPOC) reported believing their association demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity. 

Changing these statistics are just the first of many steps to creating solutions to systemic inequalities. 

To see the rest of our findings and to fully explore the results of our Benchmarking Diversity in the Association Industry 2020 survey, click here.

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Ashley Neal joined the Sidecar team in March of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down life as we knew it. Having to adapt, overcome and predict the changes needed to survive in the new normal, Ashley now has the skills needed to juggle any obstacle thrown her way. A graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University in the field of Strategic Communications, Ashley spends her days balancing her work with her love of dogs. Taking her large pack of dogs to restaurants, hiking trails, vacations and even participating in dog shows and sports is the highlight of her weekends.

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