Do you know "Women in Mobility" of Wiener Linien, the "Erste Pride Network", or the "Black Googler Network"?
These are communities in companies that connect employees with common interests, backgrounds or origins. They provide a platform to share experiences, learn from each other, and support each other.
Affinity groups are a fascinating way to create deeper relationships between employees and companies. This works when the values of the group and those of the company match. Intrinsic motivation, commitment and loyalty are created. This creates retention and enthusiasm for existing employees and attraction for new talent.
So it's no wonder that the list of companies that rely on affinity groups in employer branding is long: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are just as much a part of it as the Austrian Post AG, A1, Red Bull, Wiener Linien, Erste Bank or the Vienna Insurance Group. They have all recognized the power of commonalities.
At a Glance: Why Are Affinity Groups So Successful in Employer Branding?
Affinity Groups strengthen the feeling of belonging and identification of employees with your company.
They are a decisive factor in attracting and winning talent. On the one hand, if they themselves belong to one of the groups, and on the other hand, because diversity signals an attractive working environment.
They promote a diverse and inclusive corporate culture.
Groups that belong together are often structured in associations, organizations, or initiatives and can therefore be targeted in communications with specific messages.
Giving communities a breeding ground to emerge within the company is absolutely promising. It is a modern way to develop an employer brand that goes beyond advertising and communicative appearances to create real attractiveness for employees.
But it's also not that simple. It requires that the company is willing to take suggestions and ideas seriously and wants to develop further.
How Can Communities Be Built in the Company?
Review your company's world of values. Where does the company stand today? Which values are lived, and which are devoid of content?
Establish a set of values that are lived authentically in the company and can be credibly confirmed by employees.
Identify communities that match your values to the company's world of values.
Find out whether these communities already exist in the company. These can be parents, women, athletes, people with a migration background, representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and many more.
Identify representatives of these communities who are already working in the company.
Recruit them as contributors and start working with them to shape this community.
Define a clear agenda for the community. Work together on goals and tasks as well as common communication channels and exchange opportunities.
Mc Kinsey studied the power of affinity groups (called Employee Resource Groups in the paper) in 2022 and concluded that "Employees today associate their jobs with meaning more than ever before. They want to be involved in building and evolving policies, practices and procedures - especially around diversity, equality and inclusion. Employees want to be heard and know that their voice matters. They want to be involved in finding solutions.
The opportunity for organizations is clear: position their Employee Resource Groups as idea generators and drivers of change. If well managed and adequately supported, they can become powerful promoters.