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Participation in employee-led groups is growing globally as the groups evolve and expand from their traditional focus on demographic similarities to include a wider range of group types, cross-group pollination, and outreach to interested allies. At the same time, D&I leaders are finding new ways to align the purpose of these groups with the company's overall business strategy. Employee groups are helping to build communities across groups and inclusion beyond groups, and many organizations are discovering new ways to keep these groups from stagnating.
Employee groups (EGs), also known as employee resource groups, affinity groups, networks, or councils, got their start in the 1960s and have grown rapidly in popularity since. Today, approximately 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies integrate employee-network activities into their diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy.1 Many large organizations in North America (US and Canada) offer some type of EG, and for the past decade, interest has continued to increase in other regions. Documented benefits of EGs include supporting key talent processes (such as recruiting of diverse candidates, leadership development, and high-potential employee identification), advising on product development and marketing, and building new partnerships both inside and outside the organization.
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