WASHINGTON— The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the largest organization representing trade and professional associations and the professionals who lead them, strongly condemns legislation advanced on March 10 by the Florida state legislature intended to censor thoughtful considerations of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
More than 62,000 associations across the country play a significant role in adult education and training; they are on the frontline seeking to confront pervasive inequalities in hiring practices, leadership advancement, compensation, credentialing, and organizational culture.
While the Stop WOKE Act includes provisions aimed at instruction in Florida classrooms, the legislation would also directly apply to diversity programs in the workplace, as well as to certifications (where necessary for employment or engaging in a profession) offered by associations and private certification organizations. Under the legislation, corporations, associations, or other organizations requiring “as a condition of employment, membership, certification” DEI training or adherence to a code of conduct that includes DEI principles, for example, could be subjected to a lawsuit as a civil rights violation if these programs do not comply with the state-specified ideology that disregards the possibility of historic bias.
Beyond the immediate implications for Florida workplaces and for national associations with members or employees in the state, this legislation is regressive and sets back society in our collective quest for progress on issues that plague this nation. Successful 21st century organizations understand the value of creating an inclusive culture, and attention to DEI values provides important tools to help employees and others communicate and understand each other and become more aware of unconscious bias and other barriers to effective teamwork. When the Florida government gives license to ignoring the very real barriers that millions of employees feel in their workplaces and that women, people of color, gay and transgender people and other historically underrepresented groups experience in their professions, it sends a clear signal that the state is not interested in the views or experiences of diverse employees, or in confronting racial and gender disparities that permeate every industry and profession in America.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Vest, CAE, 202-626-2798, firstname.lastname@example.org
ASAE is a membership organization of more than 48,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Since it was established 100 years ago, its members have and continue to lead, manage, and work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines, from executive management to finance to technology. With the support of the ASAE Research Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge, and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession and provides resources, education, ideas, and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. Visit ASAE at www.asaecenter.org.