Contributed by Crystal Wallace, CAE
A strong desire to feel a sense of belonging, to be treated fairly, and to recognize and embrace our differences: These ideals are at the core of who I am as a person and to the organization that I’m proud to support today. CAI is dedicated to promoting equality and opportunity in all aspects of community association living.
In August, CAI’s Board of Trustees adopted a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement to encourage a broader conversation with our members and related organizations, including CAI chapters, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB), and the Foundation for Community Association Research.
Following numerous events in 2020 that brought racial discrimination to the forefront, an internal staff team at CAI started meeting to discuss how we could acknowledge and embrace our differences. We’ve discussed personal circumstances and have engaged in difficult but necessary conversations to find ways to bring change and broaden our perspectives and, in turn, help our members in community associations across the U.S. and around the world do the same.
I am fortunate to live in a very diverse community outside of Washington, D.C., where my family is exposed to various cultures. My daughter is growing up interacting with people of different races, family structures, religions, and other aspects of identity.
Growing up in a suburban community with little diversity in the Midwest, I wasn’t as lucky as my daughter. When I went to college and moved to different cities as an adult, I was amazed to learn about other cultures and the diversity of people’s experiences. This is one reason I was drawn to the D.C. area and why I’m proud to be part of the CAI community.
The purpose of community associations is to bring people together, strengthen neighborly bonds, promote a sense of belonging, and build a place where we can connect. CAI’s goal is to achieve a prosperous housing model and advocate for policies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who live and work in community associations as we seek to listen, learn, and understand each other regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, ability, and other aspects of our identity.
CAI and the Foundation have already developed some fantastic resources that support our initiative, such as the Creating Harmony in Diverse Communities report, the Diverse and Inclusive Communities Guide, articles in the May/June 2021 issues of Common Ground magazine and Community Manager newsletter, education sessions presented during CAI events this past year, as well as on-demand webinars. However, we know there is more we can do to benefit our communities and our members.
Our next step is to convene a member-driven diversity, equity, and inclusion working group to develop a strategy for CAI, its affiliated organizations and chapters, and the community association housing model. The goal is to solve practical problems such as language and cultural barriers, discuss new ways to bring diverse voices into our communities and leadership roles, create a sense of belonging, and cultivate a culture of learning and sharing that also can be reflected in the associations we serve.
We have work to do, and we recognize we do not have all the answers on this topic. If you are interested in participating in a working group to further explore initiatives within CAI, are willing to share your community or company initiatives, or even just want to share a great book, article, podcast or resource, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crystal Wallace is CAI’s senior vice president of membership and chapter relations.
>>Access resources to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in community associations.
CAI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
Adopted Aug. 18, 2021
Community Associations Institute is committed to making diversity, equity, and inclusion a core aspect in our membership, on our staffs, and within the community association housing model at large. We firmly believe in the unique strengths of every individual and that diversity makes organizations more successful and communities more fulfilling. By actively cultivating diversity, we benefit from a vastly richer mix of ideas, perspectives, and life experiences that expand our thinking and our possibilities. We strive to foster a culture of discovery, innovation, and service as we continue to focus on our mission to build better communities.