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Your employee networks – making an even greater impact

In the last few years, I’ve met many passionate people working in employee network groups who are championing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in their organisations.  As well as adding immense value by bringing this important space to life in visible ways, many team members enjoy the opportunity to meet and work alongside like-minded people on an area that is meaningful to them.

Based on my work in DEI both within organisations and now as a consultant, I think there’s an opportunity for these amazing groups of people to have an even greater impact on building positive workplace cultures and environments.  Below are my top tips to consider, whether you’re starting a new employee network, or managing an existing one.  

1. Connecting networks to your organisation’s strategy

It’s critical that your DEI networks can see a clear link between their work and your business goals.  Ensure they are up to date with your organisation’s strategy and other supporting plans (e.g., DEI and People & Culture strategies).  Even better, involve them in building them! Your networks are generally well connected within your organisation so can provide real on-the-ground insights.

2. Having visible and committed sponsorship

Each network must have a sponsor in your organisation who can be their champion, ideally a member of your senior leadership team.  This is not just a figurehead role; sponsors need to be actively involved including ensuring their work gets appropriate visibility and support, helping to remove roadblocks, attending some meetings, helping to make budget available if required etc.

3. Having a clear purpose and agreeing how they’ll work together

It’s important your networks have a clear purpose that they own and can articulate. This will provide a guiding light for which areas to focus on, and ensures their activity makes sense, and has impact, in the wider business context.  Teams also need to spend time together agreeing how they’ll work as a team.  Network members are typically volunteering their time over and above their ‘day job’, so clarifying expectations, responsibilities and support systems is crucial.

4. Recognising network members

It’s crucial that network members are acknowledged for their contribution in terms of the time they invest, as well as their willingness to share personal stories for the benefit of a more inclusive culture.  A great way to ensure their efforts are acknowledged is to include their DEI work into personal goals for the year and recognise them appropriately in performance reviews.

5. Coming together to amplify impact

If you have more than one DEI network, there may be opportunities for them to work together to leverage their collective resources.  Bringing together the richness of their own experiences and backgrounds, networks can combine to lead certain initiatives that touch many people across an organisation, such as supporting people with caring responsibilities or championing tailored wellbeing solutions.

6. Thinking beyond moments in time

While supporting individual days, weeks or events can make a significant contribution to an organisation’s culture, I’ve started to see some employee networks building plans that extend beyond these moments in time.  Examples include mentoring programmes to support new team members, writing leading-edge policies, and contributing to business development conversations by sharing personal experiences.  There is so much scope here, so I really encourage your networks to start thinking beyond the annual DEI calendar.

I have significant experience supporting organisations to set up successful employee networks. It’s an area I’m passionate about so if I can help your people make an even bigger difference, please reach out to me on  I’m always keen to have a chat!

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