Leaders in the Art of Civil Discourse

Finding a common purpose with others is a hallmark of associations, a community of leaders practiced in the art of civil discourse. Associations have their roots in America’s founding, and over time, we have perfected the art of working together so that industries, professions, and individuals can succeed to their fullest.

Today, association professionals are champions for all those who rely on civil discourse for the good of society. Through our ingrained ability to collaborate, we set an example for others who must to come together to achieve meaningful results. Associations are valuable resources for policymakers who also need to consider the needs of diverse constituents and achieve the best results for the good of all. Through civil discourse in the political arena, people from different backgrounds, cultures, and points of view can bring a varied perspective to problem-solving. Even while their constituents sometimes have opposing needs, officials can learn to be inclusive and open to listening to voices other than their own.

We have drafted a brief statement of commitment to let the 116th Congress know that we are here to help and are rooting for them to work together to solve our nation’s pressing problems. Below are just a few examples of our community’s work that demonstrate what can be achieved through collaboration and civil discourse. Learn more about how associations strengthen America and the world.

National Confectioners Association

The National Confectioners Association is the trade organization that protects and promotes chocolate, candy, gum, mints, and the companies that make them. Members of the industry, many of whom are fierce global competitors, work together in a remarkably collegial manner through a voluntary leadership initiative to help people manage their sugar intake while enjoying their favorite treats. The Partnership for a Healthier America is validating and reporting on the progress that NCA and its member companies are making in providing consumers more information, options and support. Their work together is helping people make informed choices, and ensuring that policymakers, nutrition
professionals, and the public understand and appreciate the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Learn more at AlwaysATreat.com.

National Waste & Recycling Association

Members of the National Waste & Recycling Association unify around the issues of public and professional safety, as society relies upon their services and professionals for good public health. Together, the competitors work hard to bridge divides, knowing that what’s good for the public also is good for the industry and its members. They abide by antitrust compliance, share ideas about safety, and build relationships around the making lives better and safer. Because their profession is one of the top 10 deadliest, NWRA members actively work with legislators to help pass “move over laws” for cars and have even worked with first responders, who also are affected by these laws, in a coalition at the federal and state levels. They also align on international issues, including, for example the export of U.S. recyclables to China, to help find creative global solutions to an ongoing and growing societal problem.

NAM/Manufacturing Institute

The Manufacturing Institute is the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The NAM’s diverse membership of 14,000 manufacturers small and large in every industrial sector and in all 50 states overwhelmingly cite the inability to attract and retain a quality workforce as their top concern. Unifying these businesses, many of which are competitors, are the industry-wide goals of bridging the skills gap, addressing the workforce crisis and bringing more underrepresented groups into manufacturing. 

The Institute is dedicated to supporting the manufacturing workforce of today and growing the manufacturing workforce of tomorrow. It does so through a variety of programs designed to excite, educate and empower with a particular focus in four key areas: women, veterans, youth and lifelong learning. The Institute’s STEP Women’s Initiative empowers and inspires women in manufacturing;
Heroes MAKE America builds a mutually beneficial pipeline between the military and manufacturing; and MFG Day helps excite the next generation about modern manufacturing careers. Find more about these programs and other Manufacturing Institute initiatives here.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Language Association

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is one of the pioneers of fostering civil discourse among its membership. Because its audiology and speech-language pathology members are communication professionals, the organization believes that they can and should set a particularly strong example of promoting and practicing civil discourse. And because a membership survey revealed
that over half of respondents had experienced uncivil discourse in the previous 12 months relative to their professional lives, ASHA moved to strengthen civility awareness and resources, and to continue to promote cultural competence as important aspects of the work of audiologists and speech-language pathologists.

As a starting point, ASHA compiled civility-related tools, templates and resources for public discussions and on social media in a digital toolkit. Members use these tools to cope with online environments that don’t reflect ASHA’s standards of professional conduct or promote the cultural competency principles ASHA espouses, and to model the respectful ways in which we can agree to disagree. The tools can help members to conduct themselves civilly and professionally on open and private social media channels, and also to promote civil discourse in all conversations.

ASHA also won three ASAE Power of Associations Summit Awards, the industry’s highest honors to showcase how associations can strengthen America. In 2018, ASHA earned the award for its collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization, to strengthen the knowledge and build capacity of professionals and institutions that address communication disorders in the areas of speech, language, swallowing, hearing and rehabilitation in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2014, ASHA was honored for its diversity recruitment programs, designed to ensure a more culturally competent workforce and respond to the
growing and changing population with communication disorders. And, in 2007, the Summit Award was given to ASHA for its early hearing detection and intervention initiative to promote hearing screenings of newborns at birth, as congenital hearing loss has been described as the “invisible disability.” In addition to vastly increasing the number of newborns screened at birth, the number of states with laws or
statewide voluntary programs for early detection and intervention of hearing loss has grown dramatically thanks to their efforts.