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HR has the biggest opportunity to create a more equitable workplace

A commonly-shared designer’s proverb says, "To design for everyone is to delight no one" 

But when it comes to creating policies for diverse and equitable workplaces, this is not the case.  


No matter the size of a business, its employees will have a wide range of skills and needs. For HR managers who are trying to promote equity, while also meeting employees’ individual needs, this is a complex problem. Luckily, says Liz Ramey, Chief of Staff at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, the solution is simple. It starts with zooming out. 

On the newest episode of Just One Q, Liz reminds us that people have so many intersecting identities that we can’t possibly develop specific policies that will address them all. In some cases, there are even legal boundaries that limit policies that target particular identities. Instead, she argues, we should create flexible, expansive and empathetic policies. 

So what kind of policy qualifies? The ones that  are designed expansively. Overall, this means thinking about  needs that all employees share, and meeting those needs. 

What does this look like in practice?

  • Expanding bereavement leave to include non-blood relatives, chosen family and any relationship that is meaningful to the employee 
  • Opening up family health-care benefits to include all dependants; not just children 
  • Offering more holistic employee development benefits. For example, in addition to pointing employees toward a conference, reimburse  fees and travel costs and help them clear their schedules so they can participate. 

Liz Ramey notes that organizations can support marginalized and equity-seeking groups by investing in ERGs, gathering resources and sharing these resources with employees. 

By creating policies that give employees a say, your organization can show employees that they are supported and valued. Moreover, flexible and expansive policies can improve your company culture and attract high-performing employees. 

As we strive for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, we must acknowledge that it will always be a work in progress. But with creative thinking, HR can use policy to  advance your company closer to true equity than it’s ever been before.

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