Affinity Circles, Resource Groups and Networks

Many companies with successful diversity programs offer opportunities for people with similar interests or backgrounds or demographics to form affinity circles – also called resource groups or networks. Often these circles include one for up-and-coming women. The goal is to increase engagement of employees and create a company culture that is more open and balanced. At the CSCMP global conference, a session on “Diversity Programs that Gain Competitive Advantage,” one of six sessions powered by AWESOME, included as a panelist Imelda Laborde, Director, Human Resources, Alcoa Forgings and Extrusions. She offered the following suggestions to boost the effectiveness of affinity circles:
•   Find a passionate leader
•   Invite others to join the circle
•   Survey members as to what they really want and need
•   Get a top executive as a sponsor
•   Plan activities in line with what the members want – some common ones are programs that feature company leaders, involvement in recruiting efforts, participation in community projects.

Another panelist – Meghan Murray, Principle, PwC – said her company’s groups are “focused on how we are going to help people continue to find a voice and continue to find more meaningful leadership and levels of responsibility within the firm.”

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