Board Diversity Policy and Volunteer Model

bddivvolunteermodel

Board Diversity Policy & Volunteer Model – November 2015

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

In August 2014, the board of directors of ASAE approved a multi-year diversity and inclusion strategic plan that was developed by the Diversity + Inclusion Committee.

Our main goal is to be a credible model of D+I for our members by building our capacity in D+I while we assist our members with doing the same within their organizations.

D+I Proposal for Board Action (approved November 2015)

D+I Strategic Plan Goal 3: “Define and implement a strategy to increase diversity in ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation within CEO pipeline and volunteer leadership pipeline that reflects the changing demographics of the U.S. and our global society.”

In collaboration with Volunteer Relations, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee recommended three key actions to achieve the goal as stated.
Following the initial ASAE Board conversation in August 2015, and subsequent conversation in November 2015, we received Board support and adoption of recommendations listed below.

Governance and Volunteer Management

Recommendation 1 of 3: Introduce steps to cultivate diversity in ASAE’s Board Pipeline.

An association’s volunteer council/committee leaders can be a pipeline to the board. ASAE and other associations request demographic data from their membership and thus from applicants to board and volunteer leadership positions. The issue for many volunteer leaders is not whether to utilize demographic intelligence, but how.

ASAE’s D+I Committee sees a leadership opportunity here.

The D+I Committee collaborated with ASAE Volunteer Relations to draft a Quick Tips guide called “D+I in Volunteer Management and Governance.” This three-page guide serves as a tool for volunteer councils, committees, and staff liaisons seeking and supporting diversity in the volunteer leadership pipeline.

The D+I Committee will pilot the Quick Tips guide with ASAE volunteer councils and committees. Lessons learned will be captured. The Quick Tips tool will be adjusted over time so that ASAE and any other association can benefit from its application.

Recommendation 2 of 3: Introduce a qualitative Board application question related to D+I.

At ASAE, we are not seeking to diversify the board as a matter of filling a quota. The D+I Committee seeks to support the ASAE Board in applying a D+I lens to selection discussions about eligible applicants who have the range of experiences and interests that may best fit ASAE’s needs.

Therefore, in addition to demographic questions that are currently asked of applicants, we recommend adding a qualitative question on understanding and evidence of work in D+I.

Here is an example:

ASAE’s Commitment to Diversity + Inclusion
It's simple – diversity makes organizations more successful and communities more fulfilling. By actively cultivating a diverse community of professionals, we benefit from a vastly richer mix of ideas, perspectives and life experiences that expands our thinking and our possibilities. We are committed to building diversity of all kinds - on our staff, in our membership, and within the profession at large.

In what ways have you demonstrated a commitment to D+I in your work or association, and how will your D+I experience inform your contributions as an ASAE board member?

Answers to the question above provide the ASAE Leadership Committee with D+I data beyond the numbers. Leadership Committee members reading the answers can then reflect on the question: What mix of demographics and D+I experiences matters most in this Board selection cycle? This recommendation will be implemented by the Leadership Committee.

Recommendation 3 of 3: Supplement ASAE’s Board Matrix with diversity success metrics.

Assuming a pool of eligible applicants has the experiences and interests that fit ASAE’s needs, how is success defined in terms of Board composition?

According to Beth Gazley and Ashley Bowers’ What Makes High-Performing Boards, less than a third of associations have diversity requirements on board seats, and in those cases the requirements are often more focused on membership status and geography. (Less than 10 percent had requirements that focused on race or gender).

This recommendation is designed to support ASAE, and subsequently boards of member organizations, in taking a D+I leadership role by defining board diversity success metrics.

Specifically, we recommend the following actions:

1. Define ideal D+I metrics for success.

Here are sample macro-level D+I success metrics:

  • In FY’17, the ASAE Board seeks to ensure that at least x% of the Board has experience engaging and understanding the needs and norms of Millennials.
  • By FY’18, the ASAE Board seeks to ensure that at least x percent of the Board is made up of historically underrepresented groups in ASAE’s membership, and reach xx percent by FY’20.

Here are sample micro-level D+I success metrics for a 16-person Board:

Gender:
Ideal 50% male/ 50% female
Good 40% male/ 60% female or 60% male/40% female
Needs work Below 30% (e.g. 4 ppl)
Age:
Ideal 25% (e.g. 4 ppl) for each generation/age range (<35, 35-45, 45-55, 55+)
Good 15% (e.g. 2 ppl) for each generation, at a minimum
Needs work Above 40% (e.g. 6 ppl) or less than 10% (e.g. 1 person) of any generation
Race & Ethnicity (e.g., historically under-represented groups in ASAE’s membership: African American/Black, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, & Native American populations)
Ideal 35% (e.g. 5-6ppl) for all groups listed
Good 15% (e.g. 2 ppl) for the 4 groups listed
Needs work Above 40% (e.g. 6 ppl) or less than 5% (e.g. 0 or 1 person) for any group listed

Note: Either macro- or micro-level or both categories are appropriate Board considerations. Given ASAE’s current demographics and resources already allocated per audience, the Diversity + Inclusion Committee recommends that the ASAE Board prioritize the establishment of benchmarks for three dimensions—Gender, Age, Race & Ethnicity—for the pilot year.

2. Benchmark current Board composition against the Boards’ ideal D+I metrics for success.

What that looks like in practice is an aggregate report of the composition of the Board
that the ASAE Leadership Committee can use to discuss and inform selection decisions.

Example:

Demographic Dimension

FY’ ___ Baseline
(current composition)

FY’ ___ Benchmark
(ideal composition)

Gender

Female

30%

40%

Male

70%

60%

Age

<35

5%

25%

35-45

10%

25%

45-55

30%

25%

55+

55%

25%

Race/Ethnicity (historically underrepresented)

8%

35%

African American/Black

4%

5%

Asian American

1%

5%

Hispanic/Latino

3%

5%

Native American

0%

5%

Assuming a pool of eligible applicants has the experiences and interests that fit ASAE’s needs, the ASAE Leadership Committee will now be equipped with the following:

  • quantitative data on demographics of applicants
  • qualitative data on D+I experience of applicants
  • aggregate report on current and ideal Board composition success metrics

This information can be used to add a D+I lens to selection discussions and decisions.
Applying a methodological approach to board diversity discussions and decisions can help mitigate risk and address any member questions about the decision-making process used during any given year.

3. Monitor and measure progress over time.

As ASAE’s needs and goals change, the Board success metrics will need adjusting, too. Therefore, we recommend dedicating time for this practice and for celebrating gains.

Together, these recommendations set the stage for modeling board diversity.

Background

An association’s volunteer council/committee leaders can be a pipeline to the board. ASAE and other associations request demographic data from their membership and thus from applicants to board and volunteer leadership positions. The issue for many volunteer leaders is not whether to utilize demographic intelligence, but how.

The D+I Committee collaborated with ASAE Volunteer Relations to draft a Quick Tips guide called “D+I in Volunteer Management and Governance.” This three-page guide serves as a tool for volunteer councils, committees, and staff liaisons seeking and supporting diversity in the volunteer leadership pipeline.

The D+I Committee is seeking ASAE Board support to pilot the Quick Tips guide with ASAE volunteer councils and committees. Lessons learned will be captured. The Quick Tips tool will be adjusted over time so that ASAE and any other association can benefit from its application.

Goal

Offer “quick tips” for increasing and leveraging diversity in ASAE’s volunteer leadership pipeline.

Audience

ASAE staff liaisons and volunteer chairs and vice chairs

Quick Tips

Timeframe

D+I Consideration or Action

Before volunteer applications open

  • Staff liaisons remind volunteer chairs and vice chairs, and (if applicable) subcommittee leaders to start thinking about recruitment and succession planning for the group.
  • Apply a D+I mindset to volunteer recruitment: What support do you need from ASAE to attract new and diverse talent? What steps are you taking to cultivate future chairs and vice chairs among your current pool?

Before finalizing volunteer group descriptions

  • Do you mention diversity, inclusion, or culture in your volunteer group description or is that an addition you can recommend to your staff liaison for adoption?
  • Is your D+I message distinct from an EEO /anti-discrimination statement?
  • Does the message contain an explicit connection between D+I and the groups’ purpose? That way, it’s clear what D+I has to do with the job-to-be-done by the group
  • Is the placement of that D+I message toward the bottom of the page (think: “Other duties as assigned on a job description”) thus sending an implicit message of level of importance?

Applications Open

  • What steps are we taking to reach beyond who we already know?
  • Did we place applications in accessible places to the audiences we’re trying to attract?
  • Is there anything we may be unintentionally communicating about your groups’ openness to new and/or diverse groups of applicants? For example, when encouraging volunteers to reach beyond who they know, try to avoid saying, “but we want qualified applicants, too” as part of that message. It can feed into stereotypes.

Applications Close

  • Staff liaisons share all applications, aggregated report of demographics, and offer guidance on how to interpret demographic data
  • What messages about the groups’ D+I commitment do you want to share with applicants in the appointment letter?
Preparation for first face-to-face meeting
  • Any accommodations needed for the meeting?
  • Did the chair and vice chair encourage all volunteers to fully complete their member profiles, including dietary or other personal needs that might require ASAE accommodations to foster fullparticipation? Staff liaisons should follow up with chair and vice chair on incomplete member profiles
  • Did the chair and vice chair and staff liaison discuss roles, responsibilities, and expectations for a successful face-to-face meeting?
  • If the agenda includes an ice-breaker or intro exercises, are you prepared to facilitate discussions on identity?
  • Assess and discuss your comfort levels with conflict, starting/transitioning conversations about diversity, identity, etc.

During first face-to-face group meeting

  • Did the chair and vice chair personally welcome each member to the group?
  • Notice if there is an “only” (e.g. woman, Gen Y, etc) in the group.
  • Notice if clusters start to form (e.g. gender, age, race, etc) from the beginning.
  • What else do you notice related to group dynamics and potential for facilitating a culture of inclusion?
  • Are you using inappropriate humor (e.g. jokes about age vis-à-vis leadership decisions)?
  • Are you distributing praise equally? For example, when the vice chair shares an idea and you give them praise for it, do you do the same when other people give ideas, even if you do not agree?

After first face-to-face group meeting

  • Chair, vice chair and staff liaison informally check in with each other – did we fulfill roles, responsibilities, and expectations for an inclusive face-to-face meeting?
  • What do we want to start, stop, and/or monitor in the future?
Throughout the year
  • Reinforce the message and supporting behaviors that remind volunteers of ASAE’s commitment to D+I, and how that relates to them and their work on behalf of the organization.
  • How will you support each other this year?