Weren't we all traumatized by some aspect of exclusion portrayed in the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" holiday cartoon? From Rudolph not fitting in with his nose, Hermey told to forget dentist goals and act like other elves, stereotyping the snow-creature, to the Island of Misfit Toys. In a half hour we learn differences can be embraced, let goals change your direction, help can come from many sources, and different does not mean misfit. Big lesson: reaching out to embrace differences makes things better for everyone.
Sue Pelletier of Association Meetings magazine and blog wrote 17 Ways to be More Inclusive with association meetings, including:
"1. Send the right message. Make it obvious on your conference program, your Web site, and in all your other materials that your organization does not discriminate ...
9. Be inclusive in your language. Instead of a spouse program, offer a partner or guest program. Say “international and U.S. attendees” instead of “foreign and domestic.” Use “different abilities” instead of “disabilities."
10. Ensure that your speaker lineup mirrors the diversity of your membership, including the younger members you want to attract ..
11. Consult a world calendar before booking meetings to ensure that they don't conflict with an important religious or cultural holiday ...
17. Consider including tracks on diversity and and inclusion issues in your attendees' professional arena in the conference ... "
Inclusion needs to happen throughout association activities ... from meetings through leadership. When you see Rudolph this holiday season, remember he can guide your sleigh.