Renata Lerch is a highly experienced, hands-on non-profit leader with over 20 years of managing global teams. She has delivered successful marketing, business development, and customer and member engagement programs in various regions such as the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia. A published author, speaker, and board member, Renata’s expertise lies in global market development and Agile leadership. Her background is in Agile, Design Thinking, Project Management, and Systems Design frameworks.
Renata is a proud board member of the International Coaching Federation, the world’s largest organization for the global advancement of the coaching profession. Her passions include traveling globally with her family to experience different cultures and indulging in music and fitness activities for the mind, body, and soul.
What inspired you to work in the international association sector?
Working for associations is very rewarding, both from a mission perspective as well as the craft of doing business. I’ve spent many years working for large multinationals where we typically spend millions to generate the level of customer and member loyalty that associations see within their communities.
I love the passion and commitment of members and volunteers. It’s an incredible feeling when we create programs that help members from around the world thrive in their professional journeys. Experiencing their devotion to our brand throughout their careers is an incredible accomplishment for an association professional. Additionally, working on programs that enhance lives and create societal progress is much more fulfilling than solely generating revenue.
How do you/ your association #EmbraceEquity? Does giving a voice and a space to diverse groups make for better results? What are the challenges you encounter? Did you solve them?
Equity is about taking action to overcome obstacles and hindrances. Giving voice and space to diverse groups always leads to better results.
Diverse groups bring different perspectives, experiences, and expertise to the table, resulting in more creative and innovative solutions to problems. When people with different backgrounds and perspectives work together, they challenge each other’s assumptions and biases, leading to more critical thinking and better decision-making. This can help avoid groupthink, where a homogeneous group of individuals may overlook or dismiss important perspectives or ideas. Additionally, creating a space for diverse groups to share their perspectives and ideas can help build a sense of inclusion and belonging, leading to greater engagement, motivation, and satisfaction among staff and members, ultimately resulting in better outcomes.
Policies are an effective way to determine how equity is demonstrated within an organization. At ICF, we have created several policies and standards to support equity, both internally and throughout our ecosystem. Some of the challenges we face are lack of representation, communication barriers, and resistance to change, to name a few. We address these challenges by working hard to improve our communication messaging and channels, increasing outreach, improving access overall, and empowering people to be authentic.
How important are diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future success of associations? What initiatives, projects and ideas can you share that help others understand the real value of DEI?
Embracing diversity and creating a space for diverse groups can bring a variety of perspectives and ideas to the table, leading to better outcomes and a more inclusive environment. It is essential for the future success of associations for many reasons, including:
- Representation: Associations need to represent their members.
- Innovation: Diversity brings a variety of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table, which can lead to more creative and innovative solutions. This enables associations to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.
- Engagement: Associations that prioritize DEI are more likely to attract and retain members who value those same principles.
- Social responsibility: Associations have a responsibility to promote social justice and equity in their communities and industries.
At ICF, we create several opportunities for engagement, learning, and networking. Our strategic thinking and tactical processes have DEI embedded, making it an unconscious effort and second nature. The concept of DEI is integrated into all product and service development created by the organization.