Strategic Objective #6: Increase the Diversity of Membership
This year, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) celebrates 50 years of addressing cultural and linguistic diversity, and ASHA continues to reap the benefits of these efforts with a broader understanding of member perspectives, as well as those of patients and
clients. Ultimately, this increased understanding leads to an enhanced ability to serve members’ needs, to the betterment of all. ASHA’s half century-long commitment to diversity and inclusion continues through the work of Strategic Objective 6: Increase the diversity of the membership.
ASHA identified diversity of the membership as a strategic objective for a number of reasons. A more diverse membership, along all dimensions of diversity, is a more engaged and empowered membership, willing to innovate, speak up, take risks, make their
needs known, and participate in the development of innovative solutions, all to the benefit of the discipline and the professions. Increased diversity among service providers is also linked to improved outcomes, and lessens health care and educational disparities. Greater diversity can result in an organization
that is better able to serve an increasingly diverse constituent base, resulting in loyal members who look to their association first for products, services, and resources to aid them in their careers. Last, but certainly not least, it’s the right thing to do.
ASHA’s sustained efforts over many years to increase racial and ethnic diversity have resulted in progress toward reversing the underrepresentation of some groups within the discipline. The recruitment of underrepresented populations involves building interest, providing information
and resources, building a pipeline, and sustaining those in the pipeline. ASHA’s recruitment efforts to date provide us with this model, and it continues to be effective.
ASHA recently undertook a new recruitment effort to further diversify, in partnership with members. A cross-functional staff team developed five brochures that target individuals from five distinct underrepresented racial and ethnic populations: African American, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander,
Asian Indian, and Native American. The goal with each was to connect with individuals from that unique community who were exploring careers. Multicultural Constituency Groups (MCCGs) represent each of those audiences, and ASHA staff met with the president of each group to get an understanding of what their
members wanted from the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology. We then received feedback from other caucus members to get their ideas on what would resonate with individuals from their group. We discussed everything from career goals of their community’s youth, to careers parents hoped their children would
explore, to colors and shapes they associated with their community. Focusing on inclusion of pictures of ASHA members from those underserved populations, we developed a first draft of the brochures. After additional feedback from members, the brochures were updated to
include three targeted messages that resonated with each audience and two testimonials from individuals from that community on why they thought a career as an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist was a great career.
ASHA purchased a mailing list of high schools with a diversity of over 75% of the unique racial and ethnic group for the brochure, and sent the guidance counselor of each school the brochure with a cover letter explaining why the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology would
be good careers for their students. A similar communication was sent to the audiologist or speech-language pathologist who worked in the school, asking them to talk to their school’s guidance counselor about CSD careers and the campaign.
ASHA is already receiving requests for brochures and more information, and will send additional brochures and tabletop displays to professionals to promote audiology and speech-language pathology to diverse students at career fairs and other venues. (To order any of these brochures,
a Career as an Audiologist or Speech-Language Pathologist.)
Overall, ASHA has mailed 13,000-plus brochures already, along with a cover letter and an order form. And because this project cost less than $11,000, including printing and postage, it’s really proving to be an effective and efficient way to reach these audiences. Future enhancements could include
designing brochures in other languages, such as a Spanish version, to demonstrate ASHA’s commitment to Spanish-speaking professionals, clients, and communities. This is part of a more comprehensive communications plan to promote these careers to new, diverse audiences. The plan also includes using
innovative digital paid search methods and targeted social media campaigns to reach these audiences through the online platforms they frequent.
Transformational changes like increasing the diversity of the membership take time. The expectation is that it will take at least 2–5 years to increase these individuals’ awareness of the discipline and benefits of our professions, followed by another 6–8 years to build a pipeline of
diverse professionals in training who matriculate into audiology, speech-language pathology, and speech-language-hearing research careers. Increasing diversity is a strategic objective that benefits everyone, from existing members, to future members, to the public at large. We are excited about this
transformational work, and hope that you are as well!
ASHA Awards and Milestones
ASHA’s Value of the CCCs Campaign Wins Fifth
ASHA’s Value of the CCCs campaign recently won Gold in the Marketing Campaign of the Year – Corporate Reputation/Professional Services Category of the
American Business Awards program. It is the fifth award the campaign has won since it launched in 2015.
National Office Staff Updates
New ASHA Staff Since March 2019
- Eric Masten, Director of Federal Affairs, Education
- Gabriel Amadi-Emina, Motion Graphics Designer
- Cynthia Baur, Data Registry Associate
- Jerry White, Director of Federal Affairs, Health Care
- Amy Hasselkus, Associate Director, CE
Individuals Who Have Left to Pursue Other
- Heather Kramer, Business Process & Portfolio Manager
- Sue Flesher, Associate Director, Accreditation Services (retired)
- Tom Jelen, Director, Digital Communications
- Shannon Morey, Director, State Health Care & Education Affairs
- Abe Zemicheal, Business Systems Analyst