Rachel Barlow
Convergence Coordinator, Dafne-EFC

Why do you invest your time & efforts in association work?

Multi-level stakeholder members organisations are fascinating. The myriad of relationships and diversity, interests and priorities make for a heady mix on a European or even international scale. I thrive on that complexity and the challenge of creating cohesion. 

Today’s civil society organisations face unprecedented existential questions, encompassing staff performance, member retention, financial sustainability and the need for their voice to be heard. I committed to this sector many years ago because acting together in a globalised society is the only way to bring about much needed change. The key to this is Women in Leadership.  

What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?

  1. Co-leadership in ambitious priority setting. 
  2. The practice of participatory democracy: grass roots consultation and structured deliberation with stakeholders. 
  3. High level commitment to making impactful change – hearts and minds together. 

What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?

  • Challenge gender in leadership. It will improve decision making! 
  • Start with the bigger picture and be more daring in articulating a vision for the sector. 

The associational sector is splintered and should coalesce around agreed priorities together. These should address the core of the rationale behind associations and not the means of showcasing such as evens management.    

How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?

As a leadership recruiter specialised in associations and NGOs, I have seen a pleasing rise in requests for female candidates.  Across my client groups, I have witnessed more careful decision making, more governance focus and greater attention to staff morale and well being. 

I am delighted that we have now voted to accept new leading women on to the Governing Board of the European Policy Centre – there are now more women than men on the Board, a first ever!