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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Talking Points for Private Clubs

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of the National Club Association (NCA) developed talking points and a DEI blueprint as a guide for clubs to use in their own DEI efforts. These documents are a starting point for clubs and should be considered, customized and used in a way that’s appropriate for each organization’s unique needs and situations. These resources were carefully designedto spark conversation among members of club boards, staffs and leadership teams to begin the process of moving toward a strong, DEI environment. NCA thanks the members of the DEI Committee for their work on this project and looks forward to continued conversations and work on DEI in the private club industry.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Talking Points for Private Clubs

As club leaders think about the landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion from a global perspective, it includes club members and club staff. These connections can be identified as internal stakeholders and also includes the board of directors. Additionally, we need to include external stakeholders such as vendors and community members.


Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability, or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin and political beliefs.

Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive club promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds and ways of living of its members and staff.

Equity provides the means and prospects for proportional representation in our critical four categories of staff, members, vendors and community. For example: opportunities to level the playing field. It further ensures that all stakeholders (internal and external) feel valued, respected and welcomed in their ability to participate and contribute to the club.

Why DEI is imperative

As you consider where we are at this moment in time, the reality is that our society has forever changed and those changes will only continue to expand when we think about such demographic areas as population age, population growth, millennials, minorities, women, ethnicity, gender, education, income, marital and disability status, education, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and others that may or can be considered as primary dimensions of diversity and contribute to our identity. While those things impact DEI, they only represent an exceedingly small percentage of the things we need to consider when we think about how DEI impacts our environment from a club perspective. Areas that impact our value systems, such as our choice in music, friends, family, neighborhood, religion, beliefs media/TV/internet and other factors that contribute to who we are, become equally as important as they change over time.

As members of the National Club Association (NCA) and at our respective clubs, we cannot solely focus on demographic diversity. This limits our ability to see people as full persons and it makes it easier for us to label people and stereotype.

This also makes it easier for us to marginalize and discount others and the possible contributions they can make that will allow us to get better. DEI is not a zero-sum game where some win and others lose. DEI is a positive-sum engagement that enhances the ability for all of us to benefit from the rich and myriad experiences that are a part of the human experience, and we all contribute to the human experience regardless of factors that we have no or limited control over due to demographic considerations.

There can be no denying that people who have been marginalized in our society due to purely demographic issues, such as the color of their skin, have suffered from systemic racism and their ability to be afforded the ability to compete for opportunities on an equal basis has been compromised.

While we cannot rectify these past transgressions, we can and must learn from the past to make things better for the future, which will allow us to build a stronger club community and strengthen relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Also, we affirm that more needs to be done to support others so we can increase our ability to widen the scope and breadth of our team members. In that regard, we must be “exclusively inclusive” in our efforts to look for internal opportunities to allow people to contribute to our growth and understanding of issues regarding DEI, and we must continually examine our processes to ensure equity for all as we move forward. Further, we must expand our reach so that we put ourselves in positions where we can meet people where they are by moving outside the confines of our local club environments. We must create positive interactions with external stakeholders that will allow us to narrate a more positive and inclusive message that will bring in people who represent something different than what we have seen in the past. By valuing diversity, we recognize the meaningful contributions that disparate groups have made to our society, and we welcome them into our clubs.

Key Takeaways

  • Demographic issues impact DEI, but DEI encompasses more than issues of race and gender.
  • There is diversity in each of us and a more global DEI perspective concerning looks at it from a perspective of humanity and values.
  • Having discussions about DEI and the historical impact of systemic discrimination is hard but it is needed if we are to move our institutions forward.
  • We (NCA and its member clubs) must increase awareness by helping to provide the tools, resources and information that will enable clubs to act on matters of DEI for the betterment of our clubs, and our internal and external stakeholders.
  • We value diversity when we acknowledge the contributions of all, and we look to include a wide variety of people and perspectives in our environments.

Reasons People Resist Acceptance of DEI:

  • F.E.A.R. (Fantasy Experienced As Reality).
  • A sense of a lack of control or participation in the process.
  • Lack of information and/or limited exposure to people who represent difference.
  • A desire to retain the status quo.
  • A misunderstanding of the key components of DEI and the benefits it brings.

The Benefits to be Derived From DEI:

Diversity can benefit us in a number of ways including, but not limited to:

  • Improves decision making.
  • Promotes creative thinking.
  • Enhances self-awareness and social development.
  • Increases our knowledge base.
  • Provides opportunities for the utilization of multiple perspectives.
  • Provides the opportunity for deeper interaction and engagement with diverse populations.
  • Broadens our customer pool and therefore benefits business growth.
  • Elevates our standing in the communities around us and that we serve.

DEI Financial Considerations/Inducements and Business Sustainability

In order for clubs to survive, they must be able to meet their financial measurements that will allow them to keep the doors open and provide the environment that induces members to continue

to seek the services they provide. Financial stability is essential to any club, but no club can survive in the manner they used to, especially given our changing demographics. While clubs traditionally have not been truly diverse, this is changing, and every club needs to emphasize the importance of building mutually beneficial longterm relationships with their community, vendors, staff and members, which will ensure ongoing business viability.

An increased emphasis on DEI creates the conditions for an “exclusively inclusive” environment that will allow NCA and its member clubs to have an infinitely more sustainable model. This will ensure increased business viability as it exposes more individuals to member clubs and the benefits of membership and increased involvement in them. This will provide an opportunity for more divergent streams of thought that more closely and better reflect the interests and needs of a wider constituency. It is vital that we understand that the focus on DEI will continue to grow over time and words such as belonging, awareness, allyship and others will continue to expand this concept.

Key Takeaways

  • Financial stability is essential to all member institutions, but a purely financial focus is not a sustainable long-term model given the changes we are experiencing in our society.
  • By any measure, a more diverse environment is a key component in creating a more engaged community (staff, members, vendors and other stakeholders).
  • DEI is hard but necessary work that will continue to evolve.

Ways to Enhance Acceptance of DEI:

  • Get to know people as people and learn their stories.
    • Share your story with others.
    • Display empathy and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.
    • Challenge your assumptions and biased/negative viewpoints of self and others.
    • Get comfortable with and embrace discomfort.
    • Speak truth and don’t be afraid if you don’t have all the answers.
    • Create an environment of understanding.
    • Normalize the discussion about DEI by incorporating it into your daily routines and creating an environment of understanding and curiosity.
    • Ensure DEI training and professional development .
    • Keep team members informed—communicate, communicate, communicate.

Levels of Valuing DEI

As with most things in life, we are available for the things that we value and the priority we place upon them, and DEI is no different. There are four levels of valuing DEI in our lives and workplace as follows and how we show them to others impacts their ability and desire to do the same.

Tolerance This is when we put up or endure something because of a myriad of reasons or pressure (real or imagined) we believe are connected to an issue. Tolerance is not where we need to be as it is a poor window dressing for real involvement, connection and support of DEI. Further, if tolerance is the baseline criteria used to value DEI, it will be seen as hypocritical, and it will hasten the demise of the enterprise as people will see through it and withdraw from the enterprise.


This is when we acknowledge and give credence to issues of difference that result from adherence to principles connected to DEI. While it is a step up from tolerance and points us in the right direction, it is the minimal level of recognition that we must demand from all club stakeholders. It is the bridge that begins to consider the contributions of others and how we can benefit from them.


This is when we are open to the differences present regarding DEI and we see the person(s) contributions as worthwhile. Further

we support these differences by being an active voice for others as we have been invited in as an ally for those who have traditionally been marginalized.


This is when we undergo the exceedingly difficult and hard work to truly and deeply understand and respect points of view that are different from our own and we openly and actively support those viewpoints whenever needed. When we celebrate DEI, we commit to the interdependence that we need to act upon the larger web of human life that connects us all.

A graphic representation of the levels of valuing DEI is shown below.