Archived: How to Start a Resource Group

By Barbara Frankel

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 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.

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