Study Reveals What Works for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Increase diversity in your membership and leadership with these ideas.

The "Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in Membership Associations" report, released at ASAE's 2011 Diversity & Inclusion Conference in February, offers ideas from association leaders on supporting diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. Commissioned by the ASAE Foundation, sponsored by Hyatt, and conducted by the North Carolina State Institute for Nonprofits, the report details the importance of leadership support for D&I initiatives. Researchers found that the participating associations, which emphasize D&I in their work, share a high level of comfort with change, conflict, and empowerment of others.

Below are ideas that associations in the study implemented to increase diversity within their membership and leadership. Some ideas worked for one association but not in another. The ideas in the lists are those most emphasized by study participants.

Effective Ideas

  • fellowships, scholarships, and internships for minorities seeking training in profession
  • annual diversity award for advocate in the field
  • free or low-cost conference and registration fees
  • online meetings
  • diversity committees with input from underrepresented groups
  • diversifying board to reduce resistance to other diversity initiatives
  • outreach and tracking of graduating students in field

Ineffective Ideas

  • programs that were too time-, money-, or effort-intensive to gain member backing
  • diversity initiatives that lacked specific training
  • targeted recruitment of underrepresented groups for committees and board
  • diversity education sessions
  • broad diversity statements without concrete actions
  • marketing diversity in advertisements
  • recruiting young members to increase other underrepresented groups

Find the full report and more resources to help you with D&I at your association at