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.”