Here are the top 6 moments from our recent webinar about building more inclusive organizations. 

As a marketer who puts together a fair share of webinars, they can start to seem like my kids — they’re hard work, you can always plan for the unexpected but they’re worth it in the end.  

And like kids, I’m not supposed to have a favorite, right? Well, I’m going to break that cardinal rule and say that our recent webinar, “Why Conscious Inclusion Matters,” is probably my favorite webinar I’ve been a part of.  

Partly, it’s because, as an Asian-American female, this conversation goes so far beyond a webinar topic for me. I’ve lived, learned, and worked in spaces that have been downright racist and misogynistic, and I’ve occupied spaces that have been places of genuine acceptance and celebration of my “otherness.”  

So when I was asked to help find speakers and shape this conversation, I was honored, excited and a little nervous.  

But our speakers, Scott Collison, President and CEO of Personify, and Maunda Land, MBA, CMP, CAE, President and CEO of LAND Consultants LLC, put me at ease and inspired me with their transparency, their drive and their empathy.  

It’s hard to choose some of my favorite moments and highlights from the webinar, but here are six moments that stand out the most. 

6 Highlights from “Why Conscious Inclusion Matters” 

1. Two leaders get real about their journey to conscious inclusion 

The webinar began with the announcement that Michelle Mason, President and CEO of ASAE, would not be able to present at the webinar, but that Maunda Land would be speaking instead. While Michelle’s presence was missed, Maunda brought her unique perspective having worked for over 15 years in association leadership. She is also an entrepreneur who founded her own consultancy firm and has acted as a leader, voice and advocate for a more diverse and inclusive world by lending her expansive knowledge and experience to helping build DEI programs for organizations like ASAE. 

Scott brings a mountain of experience in tech and shared that it was his resolution to find more purpose-driven work that led him to Personify. He also made a point to begin the conversation on conscious inclusion by saying that while Personify is not necessarily a “beacon” when it comes to DEI, he’s been doing a lot of listening, and the company is committed to continuing to learn and make meaningful strides to a more inclusive workplace and technology.  

In such an important conversation about our associations’ very real challenges about conscious inclusion, it was so great having two leaders that brought a wide range of experiences but also set an honest and hopeful tone immediately.  

2. The path to a more inclusive association is paved with proactivity 

People are talking about the significance of DEI and inclusion more than ever before, but many organizations admit that they’re just getting started on their commitment to change — and some don’t know where to start.  

When Maunda and Scott were asked what they would tell someone who was a bit stuck and didn’t know where to start with their diversity and inclusion efforts, they were encouraging. Maunda made a point to say that being a part of conversations like the one we were having during the webinar was the right way to start. 

And Scott shared that he believes a good — and essential place to start — is by moving from a place where you’re reactive to the requests and concerns of your community to a place where you’re proactively building spaces and opportunities BEFORE they’re identified as a problem. 

3. Check your habits to overcome your blind spots 

Part of moving from being reactive to proactive is to examine your habits. It’s easy to settle into a status quo where certain decisions and strategies are accepted as the norm and not questioned.  

But a big step towards building a more inclusive association is to ask what’s merely a habit and what’s truly valuable.  

Scott gave an example of how his team re-examined the idea of how internship programs are generally run. Normally, internships are granted due to a combination of connections from current employees and alumni associations.  

While those aren’t bad places to look for interns, Scott noticed how those practices and well-intentioned habits could further a homogenous community. If you’re pulling talent from a group of people who come from similar backgrounds, similar levels of education and similar perspectives, you’re losing opportunities to provide internships for different types of people, and your organization will suffer from a lack of perspective and talent.  

4. Embrace the discomfort 

You can’t have an authentic conversation about conscious inclusion without talking about the elephant in the room…which is the many elephants in the room that seem to arise as organizations develop and implement more inclusive strategies and procedures.  

Both speakers called for people to embrace the discomfort and to recognize that those feelings aren’t necessarily bad. Change requires honesty, vulnerability and humility, words that some people still believe should be kept out of the workplace to maintain “professionalism.” 

But progress simply won’t happen without very honest and uncomfortable conversations. And the more that you build trust and have difficult conversations, the easier it is to assume goodwill, listen and act in powerful ways.  

One of the other big takeaways from the conversation about discomfort is that, while certain conversations can get easier, it’s still important to understand and accept that there is a time and place for certain conversations. And, depending on what someone has going on in their life or what’s going on in the world around us, a conversation may be harder to have than at other times.  

But it’s still important to ask the questions, and it’s important to respect others’ boundaries and need for time or space.  

5. Data is essential…but it’s not perfect 

Scott and Maunda both shared that leveraging data has been an important part of helping their organizations understand the current state of their employees and members from a demographic perspective and to understand what measures will help their communities feel seen, celebrated and valued.  Data is also important to help measure the success of the programs and initiatives you develop.  

But, as powerful as data can be, you must approach it knowing its limitations.

I shared with the speakers that I’ve used sign-up forms and event registration forms that provided limited options when it asked me to self-identify my gender, ethnicity, etc. I’ve also been on the other end of collecting data to better understand members, and it was only after realizing that we had an incomplete picture of our members that we understood that we weren’t inclusively collecting data.  

6. Always be learning 

Listen, growth is great. But there’s something about the word “growth” that sounds task-oriented. People seem to attach the idea of growth to a specific number or goal. It sounds like a destination.  

But progress is different. Progress suggests a vision and a path. The destination is important, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. When it comes to how we think of creating a more inclusive world, we have to think in terms of the journey we’re all on together and how the work is never done.  

Maunda and Scott ended the webinar by calling for continued listening and learning if we hope to make any progress on our mission to conscious inclusion. They also shared some of their favorite authors, historians and thinkers that have helped them to better understand how to be leaders for diversity and inclusion.  

Here are some of the speakers’ recommended resources:  

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo  

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi  

Never Get Their Coffee by Lakisha Ann Woods 

From Third World to First by Lee Kuan Yew  

Decision-Making Research — 

Rabbit with a Red Pen – Conscious Inclusion Language Resources  

The Conscious Style Guide  

Be a part of the conversation about conscious inclusion

To see these top moments for yourself and to dive even deeper into how associations can work towards creating more consciously inclusive spaces for our members and teams, watch the full webinar today. 

And if you have any questions about how your data and other tools can help you on your diversity and inclusion journey, reach out to us. We’d be happy to chat with you.