An Executive Director's point of view
October 31, 2016: When religion does not belong
He wasn't told there should be no ceremonies at the beginning of a running event. No speeches, no announcements, no charitable pitches, no prayers, no national anthem.
The official starter should simply say something like, "Good luck runners. See you at the finish line," and blow the air horn, shoot the starting gun, or do whatever marks the start of the race.
Well, this minister said a prayer, and that ticked off a lot of runners. And he mentioned Jesus, and that offended many more people. Participants, many of whom were not Christian, believed they had come to an athletic event, not a church service.
Quite a few complaints appeared on post-event evaluation forms. Some of them were very surprising.
They can best be summed up by one participant who wrote, "I am Christian. I believe in God and I believe in prayer. But not at races."
Associations should adhere to that policy. Invocations, benedictions, prayers, moments of silence, and saying grace do not belong at association events.
Religious observance and practice is a private, personal matter, and should remain that way. It should not be injected into association events, even if you think a majority of attendees won't mind.
Stick to the subject matter of the association. In most cases, that will not include religion.
November 21, 2015: The audience is changing
June 10, 2015: Speaker diversity
We recruited six speakers - three men and three women. Diversity was very important, as the majority of the audience was female, and they weren't thrilled about listening to men all day long.
Well, all three female speakers canceled the week prior to the event but promised to send substitutes. They did - they all sent men.
I made a bigger deal than I would have about the lineup when we kicked off the meeting. I didn't want the audience to think that program planning had just been a "guy thing."
Diversity - whether based on gender, race, age, or anything else - is not just symbolic. It tells the audience who you are and who you care about.
So take diversity seriously.
May 27, 2015: For men, too
Men should think about that, too.
Family matters are the responsibilities of both mom and dad.
April 21, 2015: Executions
It has nothing to do with the legality or morality of capital punishment.
Doctors simply believe their mission is to cure people, not kill them.
March 03, 2015: The only one in the room
Here are some reasons:
1. People don't always want to be the only one of their group in the room. Having one person of color, or one woman, or one young person, or one non-Christian, or one gay man or lesbian, does not create diversity. It creates tokenism and fails to provide the "diverse" member of the group with the same supporting community the majority enjoys. And that "diverse" member may often be outvoted.
2. People don't always feel comfortable in a group when they know their only reason for being there is their demographic difference from the others.
3. People don't want to be pigeon-holed and expected to explain what "those" people believe. They want to be treated like everybody else.
4. One person does not represent an entire population segment. One person cannot, and may not want to, speak for everybody of their race, gender, age, religion, or sexual preference. And their views are not always reflective of those groups.
Diversity should be something that happens naturally, not something that is forced. If everybody on an organization Board hails from the same cultural group, there may be a problem with the selection process. The association should fix that, not just shove different kinds of people into leadership and then claim to have achieved diversity.
Board diversity is not just about displaying a "diverse" demographic head count, either. It's about creating a decision-making process that routinely includes people with different backgrounds and different perspectives, allowing the association to make better, and more effective, decisions.
February 10, 2015: When women speak
November 13, 2014: Men who don't think
June 01, 2014: Is it the right thing to do?
But I don't recall ever being told that it was wrong.
What if racial discrimination was not bad for business and was not illegal? Would it then be an acceptable practice?
Before engaging in any activity, first ask yourself if you are doing the right thing.
If discriminating against people on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, or sexual preference is not the right thing to do, then you should not do it.
No matter what.
May 11, 2014: Blame the men, not the women
Unfortunately, one of the recommendations offered for closing that gap is for women-focused non-profits to teach girls and women negotiating skills.
But blaming women for being discriminated against is wrong. Instead, men (who make most of the decisions about promotions and leadership), should be taught how to practice gender equality.