New DEI Statement and Implementation Plan Light Path Forward for Associations Council

As AM&P Network’s Associations Council continues to grow and evolve, we are rededicating ourselves to the values, goals and initiatives that have helped us serve members like you over the years. Perhaps nowhere is that more important than ensuring all our members are represented, welcomed, and heard through our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

To reaffirm our commitment to progressive change, we are unveiling a new DEI statement and implementation plan.

“I am thrilled that we are taking steps like this to better serve and support our members,” says Diane Rusignola, Associations Council advisory board president and senior editorial director at Nareit. “The association publishing industry has evolved significantly over the past year. Some of our companies have added new and specialized team members, pivoted publications, launched new products, and made other changes to better fit our members’ lives. Changes like this are so important for all of our missions.”

Our new statement reiterates the Council’s commitment to anti-racism, eliminating other prejudices, and to elevating equity in all areas of our community.

“As we stand up against inequality, we will actively honor all voices from marginalized groups or communities. In service of our association members and industry service partners, we are responsible for ensuring that the Associations Council is regularly making progressive change toward diversity, equity and inclusion.”

— AM&P Network Associations Council Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

This new statement represents the culmination of the latest efforts of the DEI Initiative that started last year and is being led by Randy Townsend and Kaylen Tucker. The initiative is focused on dedicating ourselves to five pillars: collaborative opportunities, knowledge development, member experience, organizational policy, and representation.

“This is a long-term initiative with several stages — looking within the Associations Council organization and thinking about some of the elements: the programming, topics we cover, the reputation that we have — looking at every aspect,” says Tucker, associate executive director of communications and editor-in-chief of NAESP. “I think a next stage is being able to share recommendations and how other professional organizations can do the same.”

The Associations Council aims to advance our DEI goals through action on a consistent and ongoing basis. As we begin this initiative in 2021 and 2022, those actions will include an initial eight-point plan: this DEI statement; our new Equity Award, to be presented in its inaugural year on June 16 during the EXCEL Awards; and continued content development; as well as new work on collaboration with the ISP community; training for volunteer leaders; membership surveys; an equity audit; and creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

“This past year has brought a tremendous amount of attention to social injustices that have been occurring for decades, centuries even, for people of color,” says Townsend, director of publications operations for the American Geophysical Union. “This has generated organizational letters — sounds of support. We have had a lot of great talk that sounds like what we need to hear.

“What I would like to do with our initiative is to take a look at those letters — ‘This is what you said, stand by and believe. What’s the follow through?’” he says. “Because the commitment to the execution is going to be key. How’s it going to stand up? Despite what occurs there, are you going to stand by the commitment because it was who you say you are or just the politically right thing to do at the time?”

One of the great strengths of the Associations Council is the wide variety of professions and industries we represent. Our DEI efforts represent one of many steps we’re taking to support and empower our members to face the challenges of the day.

“We represent through our colleagues, a block of professionals in organizations that cover many topics,” Tucker says. “I’m representing school principals, Randy’s in the geophysical union — we’re people of all things. So for us to come together and start to think about how to get at that business imperative, not just about people of color or individuals in pain, but that hostility is actually hurting your business.”

Townsend says these are changes that will not happen overnight. “It can’t be one and done,” he says. “There need to be strategies put into place — a way to maintain the effort and keep the conversation going. It needs be a true cultural change.”

This is why Townsend says allies in association publishing are so important. “It’s not enough to just add some diverse faces to a magazine and hope people will come to you. We need people reaching out, offering a hand. Someone needs to be going out and telling people ‘We want you to join us. And not just to join us, but to be heard, to be part of what we’re building here.’”

“Nothing is going to change if no one is talking about it,” he says. “If it’s not at the table, it will get left behind. It doesn’t have to be as blatant as ‘Why don’t we have any Latinx in the room?’ That’s an important question, but the consistency of having the conversation is just as important.”

You can join the conversation, starting with our new DEI statement, which you can find here.

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