How to Start a Resource Group

January 11, 2014 3:13 pm

By Barbara Frankel

How to Start a Resource Group

Photo by Shutterstock

1. Decide which one or two groups are most important to your business needs.

  • Most companies start with women and Blacks because those employees are most readily identifiable.
  • Avoid having a “multicultural” or “people of color” group because different racial/ethnic demographics have different needs.

2. Create a charter template that will be consistent across all current & future groups.

  • Include relevance to your company’s business needs (recruitment, engagement, retention, promotion, marketplace/sales).
  • Ensure that charters include annual goals and metrics to assess success.

3. Call all your groups “resource groups,” not affinity groups or networks.

  • Make sure their titles connect them to being part of business solutions.
  • Titles should be inclusive (“LGBT and Allies”) so anyone feels comfortable joining.

4. Find executive sponsors.

  • Sponsors should come from the highest level of the company (usually CEO’s direct reports) to ensure that groups have credibility and that senior management is aware of activities.
  • Sponsors should be cross-cultural whenever possible and should undergo cultural-competence training.

5. Find group leaders.

  • Look for talented people who are not already identified as high-potentials.
  • Give them leadership and cultural-competence training and let them use the experience to develop new skills/areas of responsibility.

6. Present group business plan to senior executives/D&I Council.

  • Set up realistic goals that dovetail with business priorities (recruitment, engagement, cultural competence).
  • Establish schedule for group leaders to meet regularly with senior executives.

7. Establish internal communications plan to attract members.

  • Make sure messaging of top-leadership support and inclusivity is clear.
  • Organize virtual and off-shift meetings so hourly and remote workers can join.

8. Set up consistent rules for all groups.

  • Allow them to meet during the workday.
  • Create funding mechanisms (diversity department, executive sponsor, fund-raising).

9. Be clear on time commitments.

  • Meet with group leaders’ supervisors to ensure that they are on board.
  • Establish membership and leadership criteria.

10. Evaluate progress with metrics.

  • Set up quarterly and annual goals and review with group leaders.
  • Report back to senior leadership on progress.