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News: Associations News

Importance of EDI for associations

12 September 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Olivia Palmer
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Work skills of the future will depend on cross-cultural competency - the ability to engage, listen, learn and work with someone who is different from ourselves. EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) is a key priority for associations, as Bola Fatimilehin, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the Royal Academy of Engineering and Roy Gluckman, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, tell Louise Clarke.

Engineering is vital to the wealth and wellbeing of the UK and the profession seeks to ensure it properly reflects the society it serves, taking action to attract engineers from increasingly diverse backgrounds

“Having diversity within the top tier of organisations helps ensure Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is owned and driven at leadership level, whilst at the same time  providing role models to inspire, attract and retain a more diverse cohort of members and  registrants,”  says Bola Fatimilehin.

“Business case evidence for D&I is growing and the engineering profession is responding by taking action to capitalise on its benefits – for engineering this is about attracting talent and leading innovation.”

The D&I Progression Framework provides a tool for science and engineering professional bodies to discuss, plan and progress D&I. It acts as a starting point for action planning around things like governance and leadership, fellowship, conferences and events, education and employment. It has also helped kick-start a bench-marking exercise to set a baseline for D&I activity across engineering and science.

EDI competency is clearly in evidence in the engineering professions. How can other membership bodies assess their EDI competency?  Roy Gluckman suggests five ways of doing this.

1. Assess the demographic makeup - race, gender, disability, sexuality etc - of leadership, staff and association members.  Does the association leadership group represent the demographic of their constituency?

 2. How robust are your association’s policies, processes and rules and do they encourage and promote EDI? Avoid barriers to entry that exclude certain diverse identities from the association. How is recruitment, retention, mentorship, promotion, discipline, dismissal and succession managed?

3. Employee engagement surveys and member satisfaction surveys with an EDI section. Note that questions will need to be sensitively drafted to uncover relevant information.

4. Is your association growing? Research shows that growing organisations often have higher EDU competencies than organisations that are not growing.

5. How many EDI related complaints do you receive and how are they dealt with?  Complaints can be a sign of a robust organisation where people feel safe to speak out. What matters is that complaints are acknowledged, addressed and resolved in a transparent manner that promotes accountability.

“Associations need to begin adopting meaningful, impactful and sustainable EDI strategies for the longevity, success and growth of their organisations,” adds Roy.

“One of the striking differences between corporate EDI imperatives and those of associations is that associations are not driven by a profit motive, but by the need to remain relevant to a changing member base.

“So the need for EDI is driven by people and their actual needs, rather than a spurious profit motive. As such, I foresee associations adopting EDI processes much quicker and more meaningfully that many corporations.”

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, The Science Council will be speaking about the importance of EDI: ‘How to be the voice of your industry and successfully represent all of your members’, at the Associations UK Congress in Manchester in December. For more information go to


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