How Can We Start Resource Groups Based on Generations, Disabilities?

What are the best practices and research related to forming disabilities affinity groups?

Q: We are in the beginning stages of forming a disabilities affinity group. Would you be able to point us to best practices/research related to disabilities affinity groups?

Second, we are also in the beginning stages of forming a generational/new professional/young professional affinity group. We'd like some best practices/research on what other companies are calling similar groups. Would you be able to provide us with some information?

A: Forty-four percent of DiversityInc Top 50 companies have generational resource groups. This number is up from 40 percent in 2009. No companies had generational-resource groups in 2005.

The approaches to generational groups vary, depending on the specific needs of your company. When we say varied, we mean some companies have one "generational group" that is focused on generational communications, talent development and planning for Generation Y to step into leadership roles. Some companies have a specific need for on-boarding and retention and may focus their group specifically on Generation X or Y. Some companies might have an aging workforce or concerns around retirement transition, eldercare or succession planning and may focus the group on boomers and beyond. Some companies have both. The most successful groups communicate across generations and don't restrict membership to one group. For example, a Gen X group would be open to older members who want to learn more about Gen X.

Seventy-six percent of DiversityInc Top 50 companies have a resource group for people with disabilities. This number is up from 70 percent in 2009 and 48 percent in 2005.

Important to the disabilities groups—we have seen—is to have it be inclusive of "friends." This may increase membership as employees who may have invisible disabilities and/or feel isolated or uncomfortable sharing might be more inclined to join. It is also always important, for every group, to have outside advocates. Advocates help bridge communication gaps and, to an extent, provide additional exposure or credibility.

Also relevant here is a mention of some of the more innovative groups found in the DiversityInc Top 50, including groups for telecommuters, parents, military and caregivers. Caregivers groups and disabilities groups often have overlap and sharing of information. Veterans groups and disabilities groups also have overlap.

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