Any strong community works best when it represents all of its members. The board of directors in your HOA or condo association is no different. As elected members of a community, your board should strive to reach a proportional representation of all residents.
What is diversity in a community association?
We might think that diversity is self-explanatory, but the world is shifting and what is meant by “diverse” continues to change. In the case of your HOA, condo or community association, diversity can mean any and all of the following: race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, age, renters vs. owners, abilities, etc., etc. When thinking about creating a more diverse BOD, you have to open your eyes to the full spectrum of diversity,
The first hurdle: candidates
For too many associations, finding willing board members is no easy task. People have busy lives and adding a volunteer position on the BOD to their plate is a big ask. So often the roles of board members go to the first warm up to fill the seat. This can make diversifying the BOD difficult. So, the first hurdle to jump over is recruiting new board members. We created some tips for recruiting new members which you can implement.
The second hurdle: the “Old Guard”
What you often find on boards is a holdout of the residents who have lived in the community the longest and been serving on the board for years. These members can be valuable to a community because they know the ins and outs of running the board and managing the association’s needs. However, it’s rare that these old guards are diverse and fully representative of the community they serve. Perhaps for this reason, among others, Florida has issued a statute that limits consecutive terms to 8 years. It was issued in 2018, so we are still in the process of witnessing how this statute will affect diversity on the BOD.
Get involved and diversify!
One of the reasons the old guard remains in place is because there is not enough education about the role of directors on the board and there is not enough involvement from the community. Educate yourself on the BOD and their jobs, attend board meetings, find ways to get involved in the community. And, most importantly, when election season comes, make sure your name is on the ballot.
Community associations live and survive on the strength of the board. The BOD needs to represent the community as a whole if it is to fulfill its role as a democratic exemplification of the association. Honor diversity on the board and you honor the whole community. Honor the community and the community grows stronger.