Not too long ago we were at a meeting where a hospital administrator was talking about their Patient Advisory Council and the goal of engaging a diverse cross-section of patients. As she talked with some excitement about planning for a full-day retreat with the members of her advisory council, we couldn’t help but think about what a challenge (if not an impossibility) such a retreat would pose for working parents, the single mom, the hourly employee who punches a clock, and for anyone who doesn’t control their own daily schedule.
The message here is that if you truly want to engage a diverse group of people, you need to be attentive to the realities of their lives and their schedules, not yours. While WE love morning and mid-day meetings (and facilitate many full-day retreats), meetings at those times often rule out participation by hourly employees, parents with young children, teachers, and high school students.
So, as you establish your advisory council, start by recruiting those who have the LEAST flexibility in their lives and schedules. Plan meeting times to accommodate THEIR schedules, and you will be demonstrating that you really do want to engage them and hear their voices…and they’ll be much more likely to attend too!