Why do you invest your time & efforts in association work?
What is interesting and special about this kind of work? Well it has to be people and the opportunities to make a difference! I am inspired by others, the experiences and insights gained, but also by seeing the impact of what we can do together.
The association sector is a professional community where sharing and collaborating brings positive change.
What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?
Invest in relationships and build partnerships: transformation and change happen when people are invested in a shared vision, over personal objectives. Through collaboration within our sector and externally more can be achieved if there are shared values and objectives.
Your volunteer leaders: never forget that board or committee leadership is voluntary role, on top of multiple other commitments. Again, collaboration is key as well as looking at flexible working practices to support volunteers in their role. We need to ensure that opportunities are there for all and that we don’t disadvantage people from certain backgrounds or personal circumstances.
Relevance: associations need to stay relevant for their members and sector, which means they need a deep understanding of the diversity and needs within their membership. Rather than aiming for monetary gains, the association sector is focused on outcomes and impact, delivering value to its members, whilst acting responsibly to ensure the association’s assets are managed in line with it mission.
What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?
I think we should choose to recognise and challenge the privileges that are at odds with moves for greater diversity and inclusion.
We need to acknowledge where privilege influences the opportunities available and the capacity of people to seize those opportunities. If we lack diversity and inclusion, we need to get back to root causes to affect change.
How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?
You can probably tell from my previous responses that I think this is really important, but it is a work in progress.
I think my key piece of advice would be to seek out information, challenge your own perspectives, and look at your own positions of privilege and bias. With your own reflection you can then seek out more information, making sure it is diverse in its sources and people are critical to this.
Make sure you are an active listener and take time to reflect on courses of action. Get to understand the many ways in which a lack of equity, diversity and inclusion can affect people. Then you can look at this from an association perspective across governance, operations and activities, including conferences.
Lastly, be intentional and transparent, whilst creating safe spaces for difficult conversations.