Random thoughts, curated sporadically.
We typically design HR programs for the majority. After all, it makes sense - why spend the majority of your time designing and developing programs for the minority of employees? Except those minorities are the lifeblood of a diverse workforce. And therein lies our dilemma.
An inclusive culture is a culture for all, not some. It means that you don't simply focus on a few underrepresented groups and build programs that are exclusively for them. You need to go to extremes. Why? Because minorities are extreme dwellers. They live on the edges of your traditional talent pools as the 'few' rather than the 'many'.
We would be lucky as individuals to not be in the minority at some point in our working lives. Stuff happens. And it can happen at unexpected times. Some less explored examples of 'stuff happening' may include when you experience:
1. a physical disability
2. a difficult pregnancy
3. a relationship breakdown
4. the care of elderly parents
5. financial hardship
6. the death of a loved one
7. the challenges of living alone
8. fertility treatment; or
9. a mental illness.
There is general a lack of conversation around these intensely personal experiences; particularly when examining the potential impact they may have on someone's ability to perform at their best. And this lack of conversation often means that the 'real life' stuff can remain unnoticed at best, and ignored at worst.
As with any market segment (customer or employee) you need to understand their experiences intimately in order to design effective solutions. What is it like to have fertility treatment? What challenges do you face when living alone? What would make life easier when caring for elderly parents? These questions are qualitative. They seek to provide you with a rich understanding of the needs of your fringe dwellers.
It is obvious that regardless of whether these life events are short-term or long-term, HR programs that support these experiences are central to the creation of cultures of inclusion; cultures that enable the attraction, development and retention of diverse talent and diverse thinking.
And that's a bit extreme.