By Lynn Harvey, EdD, RDN, SNS, SNA President 2017-11-02 03:10:18
Leadership Means Tackling the Tough Topics SOON AFTER I HAD BEEN ELECTED TO SNA’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS as vice president, a member approached me, expressing her urgent hope that I would “do something” about the lack of diversity among SNA’s leadership. It’s no secret that SNA’s Board is composed mostly of white women in their middle years and that this has been the predominant demographic for some time. As a white woman in her middle years, I feel acutely conscious of this imbalance, especially as the tenor and volume of conversations about discrimination in our country are on the rise. I’m not here to tell you that I have the answers or that we will “solve” this problem before I leave office next summer—as much as I’d like to make that happen. I simply want to use this space and this opportunity to respond to that request that had been made to me and to the many unspoken appeals that surely resound among our membership. I can, with great confidence, assure you that SNA leaders are neither casual nor complacent when it comes to confronting this issue. SNA is not alone in taking a hard look at diversity and inclusion (D&I). In a recent study of association executives, a vast majority indicated that their organizations viewed D&I as part of their association’s core values, but nearly half conceded that they did not have an action plan to specifically address D&I initiatives. SNA is right there with both of these majorities. D&I was a core agenda item of our October Board meeting. We had a frank conversation about frustrations expressed by members of color, men and younger professionals. We reviewed current efforts, especially by the Leadership Development Committee, to identify and engage a diverse range of future leaders. We acknowledged our own frustrations with perception-as-reality and the obstacles that rise when less than 5% of our 57,000 members makes the effort to vote in our annual national Board election. There are no easy answers to these dilemmas at SNA or society at large. But we won’t just throw in the towel. We’ll keep the conversations going. We’ll keep striving to prioritize D&I in our governance and our programming. I’ll also ask something of you: Get involved. Participate. Volunteer. Vote. At press time, SNA had just announced the slate of candidates for the 2018 Board election (http://tinyurl.com/SNAElection18-SNMag). Mark your calendar to vote February 15. Be a part of the solution.
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