Margaret Rivera, AstraZeneca’s senior manager of diversity, helps oversee 16 successful employee network groups. Here are her tips for making such affinity groups work:
1. Don’t force it. “Companies . . . should understand that the most successful employee groups often start out as grassroots organizations — they are volunteer organizations,” she counsels.
2. Make sure they’re tied into the overall diversity strategy.
3. Get support at all levels of the organization. “Having senior leadership invested in them is very important,” Rivera recommends.
4. Establish guidelines and processes, and determine what resources will be provided. “General operating guidelines should be established and each group of employees should prepare charters along with a mission statement,” Rivera advises.
5. Make the groups open to all employees. “Promoting inclusion is very important,” she says.
6. Provide ongoing guidance and support: “In our case, each of our groups has a senior leader assigned as their sponsor,” Rivera suggests.