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by Callie Castro, CAE, KCSAE President
We all know that the world surrounding us, and our associations, is in a constant state of change. And as association professionals we must be willing to adapt and able to convince our leaders of the importance of this adaptation. Without it, many of our groups may struggle to keep up with the demands and expectations of our members.

Foresight is one way to create these adjustments to our normal status quo. According to ASAE, foresight is a systematic, multi-stepped process for identifying, critically analyzing, and acting on potential futures. Future-focused activities like environmental scanning play a key role in the foresight process. Foresight can be used by association leaders in strategic planning and strategy development, anticipatory learning, risk management, and innovation and business development.

Your KCSAE board continues to look at ways it can conduct business in a meaningful way. We have been discussing the ASAE Foundation’s, ForesightWorks, on a high level over the last several months to ensure that we are focused on what is to come. We identified our top nine drivers that included diversity and inclusion, mentoring, microlearning, next gen professionals, virtualized meetings, empowered women, shifting environment for content, marketing & advertising transformation, and new forms of work. The board plans to drill down further into these over the next year, taking the conversation to a deeper level in discussing how our top 3-4 topics directly apply to the work and future of KCSAE.

I want to focus on one of these topics, empowered women. KCSAE has a membership that is 69% female and of the CEO members of KCSAE, nearly half of those are women. I know my current association, and I’m sure many of yours, is seeing a shift in membership demographics with many more women choosing to go into the field. As associations we have a dual role in this – both internal and external – to see how best we can support our women members and women industry professionals.

Externally, we must be prepared to promote the women of our industry in the workplace and to discuss and defend gender equity in policy decisions. We must be willing to take a stand to support the continued advancement of women in the industry. We must back up our women members to help them achieve their desired professional goals. We must also continue looking forward to how the increasing number of women in our industry as well as the political scene may impact the association.

Internally, we must ensure that our association leadership also reflects these changes. And if it does not, why is that? We need to look at our leadership structure to make sure it is accommodating and inclusive. Many women, particularly younger women, will be required to find a balance of association involvement, career demands, and family obligations. As such, it is important that associations look to create opportunities that welcome and engage these members. In addition, it may take some coaching to get some of the “old guard” to recognize and acknowledge the potential differences in leadership and discussion styles. This diversity should be welcomed and valued in our associations, but unfortunately for some, it may take some time to fully realize this.

At KCSAE, we have discussed what this might look like for our group. This includes potentially having more women speakers on the program and creating more family-friendly meetings (as it relates to timing and delivery). This also includes making sure that our women members feel welcome and included in regard to their participation and involvement (and potentially working with those who manage them to secure support for participation).

It is our goal that we will be able to take the outcomes of these foresight conversations and produce successful and meaningful resources for our members to continue to satisfy and engage the Kansas City association community. Of course, we welcome your input.

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