I have a good friend who is attending the annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference in Atlanta this summer. He received the invitation below from Robertson Interactive, who will be a vendor at the event. As you can see, they are giving away a diamond necklace and purses as an incentive to stop by their booth.
The only problem is that their invitation is not inclusive. Forbes Magazine recently reported that 71 percent of HR managers are women. At some point I imagine it may officially become a non-traditional occupation. While Robertson Interactive may be effectively targeting the majority of the attendees, they overlook another key portion of their constituents. The organization could have easily included and incentivized the male attendees, but the back of the postcard did not mention that participants could win a prize for their mother, wife, sister or daughter.
My friend has continued to receive invitations from vendors during the past several days. Some have advertised generic prizes, such as an iPad. When he forwarded me the invite below, I realized that some vendors may be considering the men after all (although I wonder how many female attendees are interested in this).
Unfortunately, however, more evidence surfaced to contradict this hypothesis. He received an email from SHRM announcing an exciting opportunity at the event: mini-manicures. Here is a screen shot of the invitation.
I cannot point to any surveys, but my guess is that the male attendees will not be lining up for this event. I have demonstrated before that gender inequity runs both ways and that exclusion in the workplace is challenging. But to see it from an organization whose very mission is to encourage organizations to recognize and include employees is disappointing. If anyone should be championing inclusion, it should be SHRM. After all, equal opportunity and diversity are some of the most cherished values of human resources. What would happen if an equal opportunity to participate was encouraged and expected? What if the event planners or vendors creatively implemented strategies to reach everyone? What if this philosophy spilled over into all areas of the workplace? I wonder.
What do you think? Are the above examples problematic?