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Breaking Barriers: The Path to Inclusive Associations

Updated: Apr 18

In a world that strives for progress and inclusivity, why do certain demographics still face discrimination and exclusion? In my latest podcast, “Breaking Barriers: The Path to Inclusive Associations,” I am exploring the persistent challenges of discrimination and prejudice as well as the urgent need for change within associations. Listen in to embark on this journey with me to dismantle outdated norms and foster true inclusivity in order to build a culture of belonging for everyone.

I received an incredible honor recently—being listed on a global roster of women advancing associations.

However, my elation quickly turned to questioning why we still find it necessary to intentionally separate and recognize certain demographics based on physical traits or background. Our society’s historical struggle with inequality, deeply rooted in centuries of male domination, continues to hamper progress in achieving diversity, equity and inclusion.

It seems like we have a long road ahead. Despite significant milestones like the Civil Rights Act and the women’s rights movement, I’m disheartened with the reality that even after all these years, we are still grappling with gender bias and discrimination. Don’t believe me that it exists? Give the podcast a listen, and I’ll share a few stories about women being denied opportunities and facing outdated organizational bylaws that prohibit their active involvement and growth within organizations. I’ll even share a personal story about a male CEO engaging in libelous behavior against me and my company.

You’ve heard me say it before, and you will hear me say it again… “Age discrimination is the last accepted form of discrimination”, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening to other marginalized populations. Associations must confront these issues head-on through critical conversations and self-exploration to foster a truly inclusive environment.

While my experiences fuel my passion for advocating for women’s and girls’ organizations and causes, not all women have that same privilege, and today, I challenge associations to go beyond superficial recognition and examine every aspect of your organization to ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging and has equitable opportunities.

Recognizing women who advance associations is a commendable step, and I am incredibly grateful, but it is not enough. Associations must commit to introspection, starting with their bylaws, boards, staff, and membership communities, expanding to their partners, vendors, event attendees, and so many other stakeholders.

Let’s work together to create organizational cultures that genuinely embrace and value individuals, irrespective of their race, gender, age, or background. The journey towards inclusivity requires a collective effort and a dedication to dismantling barriers and stereotypes.

It’s clear to me that the fight for true equality is far from over. Discrimination persists, but so does the hope for a more inclusive society. Associations can and should play a critical role in leading the way, transforming outdated practices, and fostering cultures of belonging for everyone. Join us in breaking down barriers, embracing diversity, and championing a future where equality knows no bounds.

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