Diversity Policy


BNI is an organization of business professionals. As such, Members, as well as their Visitors and Substitutes shall treat all meeting participants, (including Members, Visitors, Substitutes, potential applicants, and meeting facility personnel such as wait staff), each other, their clients, and members of the public with courtesy and civility and conduct themselves in a professional manner in the course of their business. It is essentially professional misconduct to engage in conduct a member knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of; race, physical attributes, sex, religion, national origin, politics, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to membership in our chapter. Any misconduct mirroring or similar to the above, when seen, heard, received or observed shall be reported to the Membership Committee AND the Leadership team for possible corrective action. At a minimum this should consist of constructive, critical feedback. Ideally it would result in a recognition, acknowledgement, apology, and no future occurences from the offending party.

A diverse chapter membership is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Respecting individual differences will benefit the working relationships between members and the opportunity for business growth within additional segments of the population.

Respecting diversity in visitors, substitutes, members, and leadership is more than simply acknowledging differences in people. It involves recognizing the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness. Additionally, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination can result in preventing new members from joining, loss of member effectiveness, can harming working relationships, can damage morale, can cause members to leave the group, and can lead to complaints and legal actions against the group or BNI as a whole. Lack of diversity in the greater membership and specifically leadership can be a turn-off to potential members, essentially preventing the growth of a more diverse group, and possibly prevent growth into new markets.

Furthermore, diversity is not just about differences among groups of people but differences among individuals. Each individual is unique and does not represent or speak for a particular group.

It is a goal of the Brunswick BNI chapter to recommend and make a conscious effort to recruit and select a diverse slate of volunteers for leadership and decision-making roles, not only during the annual ‘changing of the guard, but also to fill positions as they become vacant during the year. These positions include, but are not limited to the Leadership Team, the Membership Committee and the Visitor Hosts, as they are the first people to welcome visitors into the meeting.

Substitute Policy

In accordance with BNI national policy, our chapter welcomes substitutes to stand in for our members on the rare occasion when the member must be absent. A member may use substitutes up to three (3) times in a six (6) month period.

Our chapter recognizes the value of substitutes for several reasons. A qualified substitute can professionally represent our business when we cannot be at the meeting. A qualified substitute has the potential to become a customer for our members and they may become a prospective member to our chapter. We frequently have other visitors and guests attending, perhaps interested in joining, and they’ve been invited to a meeting of fellow professionals – it’s important that we keep it professional.

Ideal substitutes may include our employees, clients/customers, vendors, or professionals from within our business and personal networks who can speak thoughtfully and respectfully about our business. Members of other BNI chapters are also welcome substitutes. While occasionally a minor child may need to attend our meeting due to childcare issues they do not qualify as substitutes in a professional business meeting. A member will be counted as absent if their substitute is deemed unqualified by the chapter Vice President.

As an added inducement to substitute, s/he is welcome to mingle and gain introductions to our members during the open networking portion of the meeting. If they own, or are employed by a business, they are welcome to bring business cards to leave on the front table. This potentially provides great value to their business in exchange for substituting for a member. They also gain a free breakfast and the opportunity to learn more about local professionals in the area. If there is no conflict with another members seat, the President may invite the substitute to stand and provide a brief (less than 60 second) introduction of who they are and what business they are in once the regular members have given their Sales Manager minutes.

While finding qualified substitutes may sometimes pose a challenge, it is in the interest of our group to discourage “professional substitutes” and/or those who may appear to others to represent unfilled seats in our chapter, as they potentially gain the benefit of attending our meetings without ever making a commitment to join us. This can also be confusing to new members and other visitors, and may discourage potential invitations to those who may be interested in filling that seat. While the same substitute may over time attend more than one meeting to represent a chapter member during the Sales Manager minute portion of the meeting, they will only be welcome to stand and introduce themselves two times without making application to join the group. Other opportunities shall be limited to open networking and follow up with individual members outside the meeting.

The responsibility to invite a qualified substitute lies solely on the member who will be absent. If a member must be absent, we encourage them to request suggestions for substitutes from other members, but the group does not have a responsibility to provide substitutes.

Dues/Meals Policy

BNI Brunswick Chapter provides a full breakfast and rents a function room at The Brunswick Hotel for our weekly meeting. To pay for the expense of meals and room rental, the chapter levies a quarterly fee in addition to regular membership dues. The precise number varies depending on the number of members in the chapter at any given time. The cost of the meals and room rental cannot be divided by any members, even if they choose not to enjoy the meal.

Our host requires that we pay their invoices on or before the first of the month in which the invoice is generated. To ensure we have funds in our bank account, we collect dues payments for the quarter forthcoming.

Timely payment of quarterly dues is essential to be sure we maintain good relations with our host. An announcement about quarterly dues will be made three weeks before the beginning of the new quarter and will continue each week until the new quarter begins.

Members are expected to bring a check for quarterly dues on or before the beginning of the new quarter. Members who are repeatedly late with quarterly dues will be referred to the membership committee.

The quarterly dues are structured such that qualified visitors to our chapter do not need to pay out of pocket to visit our group. A qualified visitor is any business person age 18 or older who is eligible to join our chapter according to BNI policy. Members who bring visitors who are not eligible to substitute for our members or join our group may be asked to pay for the expense of that visitors meal.

You can pay for your meeting dues on-line by Clicking Here.

Meeting Cancellation Policy

Due primarily to facility staffing and facility safety issues, BNI Growth Partners will NOT meet if Brunswick schools are delayed or cancelled due to weather. We will also not meet if the Leadership Team is notified with less than 24 hours’ notice that The Brunswick Hotel cannot host due to some other event or circumstance.

School cancellations are posted by 6 a.m. on local television and radio stations. You can also sign up for text alerts through http://wgme.com/station/text-alerts and possibly other outlets.

A Brunswick ‘early release’ day will NOT impact our meeting, nor will cancellations of surrounding towns.

If Leadership is notified more than a day in advance that The Brunswick Hotel cannot host, or if any other event would cause a cancellation the group email list will be utilized to inform everyone of a venue move or cancellation based on the particular circumstances at the time.

If you’ve invited visitors PLEASE let them know as soon as you know.