The December edition of ASAE’s Stronger by Association podcast addresses Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the association community. Guests include Irving Washington, FASAE, CAE, Executive Director at Online News Association and Donte Shannon, FASAE, CAE, CEO at Association of Equipment Management Professionals, two of the co-founders of Texts to Table, a series of conversations with four Black CEOs, joining together to reflect on today’s political climate, focusing on race within leadership.
Washington and Shannon discuss how each handled the murder of George Floyd personally and professionally, and how the association community might change in the future. “This moment is also fundamentally about relationships. I think the reason why you saw a lot of those statements fall flat is that, people did not have relationships either with the people or the organization, and did not believe what you were writing was true,” said Washington. “If you look from a CEO perspective, this is a time for you to really test those relationships, and if you don’t have them you can’t build them overnight.”
“I really see The Power of A being able to push and change diversity and inclusion because there are so many associations who impact legislation, who are sitting in rooms with presidents of the United States, or are so closely tied to state legislators,” Shannon said. “That really is where change is going to start happening. We have to see associations doing more and being more cognizant of how they are coming to the table, what they are speaking about when they are at these tables.”
Janet Smith, president of the Ivy Planning Group, a consulting and training company that specializes in diversity, strategy and change management, also joined the podcast to discuss how organizations are sustaining DEI initiatives with meaning and purpose. “I don’t think we should start with the training piece until we are able to discern if we have a skill problem or do we have a will problem,” said Smith. “Quite often we move first to skill with training without really assessing, do we have the will to do this?”
The podcast also welcomed ASAE’s Cortney Whitlow, Manager, Meeting Registration & Industry Partner Engagement, who brought life to ASAE’s Black Moments in Film program which impacted the ASAE staff in immeasurable ways. Whitlow said, “We realized we needed an opportunity and a platform to learn, to raise awareness, and to really deepen our empathy. We realized that some staff were surprised by experiences that other staff had been through. They had never been privy to it. It was disheartening to know that your fellow staff person that you walk the halls with had gone through such traumatic experiences….We thought we need to broaden horizons and help people understand the realness.”
The podcast is hosted by Mary Kate Cunningham, CAE, ASAE’s SVP of Public Policy and Robb Lee, ASAE’s Chief Marketing and Product Strategy Officer, who also leads ASAE’s DEI work. ASAE’s Stronger by Association podcast can be found on The Power of A website or any podcast app.