Infusing DEI into AIHA’s Board Nominations Process
AIHA’s Board of Directors plays a critical role in the association. The Board is the “face” of AIHA, establishes the organization’s strategic direction and goals, and monitors progress toward reaching those goals on behalf of the membership. Candidates for Board positions are recommended by the Board Nominating Committee (BNC); historically, we have looked for candidates who possess various desired attributes. These include a record of distinguished service and the potential for further contributions; demonstrated performance at the highest level in scientific, industrial, public sector, or educational communities; a commitment to devote the time necessary to perform Board duties effectively; and demonstrated expertise in the profession.
Over the past several years, issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become prominent in our society. In the association space, there is a good deal of information about how organizations like AIHA can better infuse DEI into our Board nominations processes. Over the summer, a Board working group retained the services of an outside governance consultant, AMC – Association Management Center, which has a long history of working with AIHA on multiple strategic planning projects. The following are a sampling of some of the adjustments we are making to our Board nominations process based on AMC’s recommendations:
1. We’ve created a Board recruitment matrix that details an array of demographic factors and strategic skillsets reflected by each current Board member. The BNC will use this tool to identify any gaps as it scores candidates to ensure we remain a diverse Board.
2. In all correspondence about nominations for Board candidates and openings on the BNC, we note, “AIHA encourages candidates to apply who will advance the diversity of our Board.”
3. On the Board candidate application we are asking two new questions: “What will you do to advance the diversity of our Board?” and “Share examples of how you have advanced diversity, equity, and inclusion in your ‘home’ organization/employer or in a volunteer capacity.”
4. For both the Board application and the BNC call for volunteers, we are asking a series of questions related to diversity. These questions are optional, and any information collected will be used strictly for internal purposes.
5. With respect to the composition of the BNC, for two of the four at-large positions, we are seeking members who can serve a two-year term (instead of one). Having the terms of some at-large members carry over into the following year will help ensure a smooth transition of knowledge.
6. For the interview stage of the Board nominations process, we’ll schedule two members of the BNC to participate on the calls with each candidate (instead of one).
7. When we get to the final scoring phase, we’ll institute a blind review process (where the BNC will not be able to see the names of the candidates)
Beyond modifications to the nominations process, AIHA’s Board is committed to exploring other ways to integrate DEI into our operations. As you may have seen, we are forming a new LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group. We’ll also be engaging various volunteer groups as we set out to update our core value statements, our Diversity and Inclusion policy, and our strategic plan to ensure DEI is appropriately reflected. This is an ongoing journey that we hope will engage many of you as we grow and evolve in this space. Look for more on DEI in the months ahead, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have ideas about how we can do more.