Best Practices for Recruiting a Diverse Association Staff

These suggested hiring best practices can be used as guidance when recruiting a diverse association staff.

Early Recruitment Guidance

Tips to keep in mind when beginning the recruitment process:

  • Focus on necessary required skills when creating a job post. Only use degree requirements when it is required for the role to avoid creating artificial barriers.
  • When considering hiring family of existing staff, or existing staff for new hires, be aware this behavior can limit diversity, and that you may not be accessing a diverse pool of qualified candidates.
    • Consider eliminating referral programs for staff hires, friends of staff may not represent the most diverse pool of qualified candidates.
  • When looking to hire Interns – consider reaching out to a variety of colleges to reach the largest, most diverse candidate pool.
  • Consider reaching out to various minority professional groups that specialize in the role you’re seeking to fill (ie. Association of Latino Professionals in  Finance/Accounting, National Black Public Relations Society, etc.).
  • Include Association DEI statement in job posting.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Sample Job Descriptions

Who on your existing staff will be responsible for your association’s DEI initiatives? Or is your association looking to hire a staff member dedicated to the association's DEI initiatives?

These sample job descriptions are written specifically for association staff roles dedicated to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Use them as guidance or as a template when creating DEI positions for your association. 

Best Practices for Chief Staff Recruitment

As Associations work to improve diversity in association leadership roles, associations can consider the following considerations when recruiting a chief staff.

Position Requirements

  • Many local and state associations are currently working to improve diversity in leadership roles, committees, etc. If recruitment for AE positions is only targeted towards those who are currently in leadership roles within a real estate association/with real estate experience, your pool of candidates will not be as diverse.
  • Explore whether real estate experience is a requirement. Non-profit/association management, fiscal management, people management could all be requirements for the position and would allow candidates from outside of the real estate industry to apply.
  • Require leadership experience and not collegiate experience—10 years of successful leadership and management at an association has more tangible, applicable outcomes than a 4-year Bachelors’ Degree.
  • Ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion expectations/initiatives/business outcomes are a part of the job posting. Regardless of who is hired, DEI will need to be one of their priorities so should be a bulletpoint(s) in the job posting.
  • Expanding the search beyond real estate executives to those with association management experience will also allow the position to be posted on a variety of job boards to attract more candidates. Indeed, LinkedIn, ASAE are great job boards for associations that are not using a recruiter.

Screening and Interviews

  • Don’t be afraid to pivot. If you are screening resumes and see that candidates are not meeting your expectations or are all too similar, make changes to the job posting and where you are posting the job to get a more diverse applicant pool.
  • Ensure that the screening/interview team is not homogenous—but has diversity and representation. Panel interviews provide an opportunity to ask someone to join for their unique perspective—ask a key staff person, member who may not be as involved, Diversity Committee Chair/Member, etc. to join the interview team and ask their question(s). Their position and viewpoint in the association may be different than others on the interview team and will help to ensure that candidates are able to speak to differing perspectives/those who may not be as bought in/those who may not be as engaged.
  • If you only invite one type of person/one type of experience to interview, then you are limiting your ability to select the best possible candidate for the role. Ensure that you have a diverse pool of qualified candidates who are invited to interview. Not sure if a candidate checks all the boxes? Invite them to interview to learn more!
  • Be direct. Ask questions about DEI to better understand the candidate’s perspective. Share what initiatives the association is working on. Share what challenges the association is facing and ask the candidate how they would approach. Hiring an AE who does not think DEI is a priority will not help move the association forward, so find out in the interview.



The REALTOR® commitment to diversity and equality is perhaps the strongest in real estate, going even further than the federal Fair Housing Act.