Minor Help, Major Impact: How those in the majority can help minorities

It is refreshing to see the increasing awareness about issues related to racial and gender minorities in the professional world. Discussions about these topics have become commonplace at conferences and on magazines, blogs and social sites. It is my firm belief that our society as a whole, and certainly our professional worlds, can only benefit by becoming more inclusive, more supportive and less prejudiced.

In my own world, I try to be helpful by educating myself and participating in relevant events and discussions. When I do, it is clear that I am not alone: a few years back I remember being one of only two or three guys attending a session on women in the workplace, or being one of only a handful of white people attending a lecture about police brutality against racial minorities. Today, these ratios are getting much better.

However, when I participate in some of these events I can’t help but feel that there is a lot of talk but not much action. Talking about these issues is important as it raises awareness and educates the general public. But sometimes it feels as though only two options exist: be a passive participant, or become an engaged activist. Faced with this choice, most people will opt for the passive participant role because of the commitment that activism requires and some of the risks it can entail.

This situation reminds me of the problem faced by many products, as first eloquently described in Geoffrey Moore’s seminal book, Crossing The Chasm. When a product is introduced into a marketplace, it is at first embraced by Innovators, and next by Early Adopters. The chasm, as Moore first described it, is the gap that exists in order to reach the first truly large market segment: the Early Majority.

One of the main obstacles to crossing the chasm is friction, meaning any obstacles to adoption by the general public. A common term used in the start-up world to describe products that are successful is frictionless: remove obstacles to make the product as easy to adopt as possible. This might mean reducing the number of clicks required to purchase an item, or simplifying the registration process for an app.

I believe that the support of racial and gender minorities in the professional world is now at the Early Adopter stage. What is needed is a way of removing as much friction as possible, allowing individuals to support initiatives without having to make too much effort. In other words, we need to attract the Early Majority. And that is why I decided to create minorhelp.com.

What I wanted was a list of simple things that I could do, actions that I could adopt as part of my daily habits, that would show my support for all types of minorities in the professional world. If I could then share these ideas with others, as more and more people embrace them, the impact can start to be significant. In particular, it is my hope that these ideas will appeal to the Early Majority, those who are willing and able to support our cause if it’s made relatively easy.

The initial list of ideas on minorhelp.com came in part from my own experiences, but were also inspired by individuals I have met or heard speak. And as the word spreads, I hope that others will contribute to the list of suggestions. I also have a number of ideas on how to turn the site into a community and help it grow. For instance, people could create a minorhelp.com account, “sign up” for one or a few of the actions, get daily or weekly reminders about them, and then update information so that they can see their own progress, while we could track — and showcase — the overall impact. We could have friendly competitions, voting for new ideas, stories and photos submitted by members giving specific examples.

It’s been fun getting this started, but I will need help to keep it growing. If you are an Early Adopter who is willing to do a bit of extra work, whether it’s by helping spread the word, helping to improve the site and add features, or think about other ideas, please drop me a line through email (paolo at minorhelp dot com), Twitter or Facebook.

It’s the kind of #minorhelp that can have a #majorimpact.

This blog first appeared on the Minor Help Blog on October 3, 2015

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