Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion

"In principle and in practice, ASAE values and seeks diverse and inclusive participation within the field of association management. ASAE promotes involvement and expanded access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level." — ASAE Diversity and Inclusion Statement

State Discriminatory Laws

ASAE is tracking legislation in numerous states that would effectively permit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, including:

Texas: In August 2017, a special session of the Texas legislature concluded without the passage of discriminatory legislation that ASAE and many in the association community were monitoring. Opponents of bathroom restrictions, including ASAE and numerous other corporate and hospitality interest groups, had argued that the proposals were discriminatory and would have had dire economic consequences for the state.

ASAE was an active member of the “Keep Texas Open for Business” coalition, which included the Texas Association of Business and major corporations in operating in Texas—Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Marriott, and United Airlines among them.

ASAE thanks its members and industry partners in Texas who joined us in opposing legislation that would deny public accommodations to members of the LGBTQ community. Convention and visitor bureaus, hospitality executives, and corporate leaders in Texas have been united in opposing legislation that we view to be discriminatory and contrary to our diversity and inclusion commitment.

This issue could emerge again when the Texas legislature reconvenes in 2019 or perhaps sooner, or in other states where associations hold meetings or conduct business. With the support of ASAE's board of directors, we will remain vigilant in opposing all legislation that we view to be discriminatory against segments of our community.

North Carolina: In March, lawmakers approved a compromise bill to repeal the state’s controversial House Bill 2, legislation that denied public accommodations to members of the LGBTQ community. The bill received bipartisan support and was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper that same day. The agreement returned the state to pre-HB2 status quo reading use of public facilities. The bill also prevents any local government from enacting its own non-discrimination ordinances until December 2020, a provision that had human rights groups lobbying legislators to oppose the bill.

ASAE is encouraged that the North Carolina legislature has recognized the damage that HB2 has done to the state’s economy and reputation. ASAE also reaffirms its support for our members, industry partners, and convention authorities in North Carolina whose efforts to promote the state have been hurt by this damaging law.

Tennessee: In April 2016, ASAE wrote Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in opposition to a bill that would allow mental health professionals to turn away clients based on the counselors' own "sincerely held principles." The American Counseling Association said the measure is in direct violation of the ACA's code of ethics and is an "unprecedented attack" on the counseling profession. ASAE also characterized the bill as discriminatory and said it could damage the state’s image as a welcoming destination for businesses, meetings and conventions, and tourism.

Governor Haslam signed the bill, arguing it addressed his two concerns: It did not apply if an individual seeking counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others, and it required counselors who feel they can't see a client due to their personal beliefs to coordinate a referral to another counselor or therapist.

Georgia: In March 2016, ASAE sent a letter to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal urging him to veto a bill titled the Free Exercise Protection Act. The legislation would offer protections to faith-based groups if they refuse to provide “social, educational, or charitable services that violate” their religious beliefs. Governor Deal vetoed the legislation, saying the bill did not reflect Georgia's spirit and welcoming nature.

Indiana: In March 2015, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation that many believed would allow businesses to discriminate against individuals based on sexual orientation. In a letter to Governor Pence, ASAE pushed for clarifying language and a clear antidiscrimination carve-out in the legislation. Only a week after the bill passed, Governor Pence signed a measure stating that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not authorize businesses or individuals to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, goods, or public accommodations to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, or military service.

Arkansas: Last year, ASAE sent a letter to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson regarding similar legislation passed by the state general assembly. Governor Hutchinson asked for changes to the bill that mirror federal law. He signed the legislation after a clear antidiscrimination carve-out was added.

ASAE is committed to diversity and inclusion practices in all of our meetings and events. Laws that permit discrimination are not only regressive, but also put ASAE members at risk of being denied service anywhere from restaurants to meeting and convention facilities, and they send a harmful message that fairness, equality, and the principles of our Constitution are secondary to personal prejudice.