Attorneys and other professionals who work flexible schedules can experience a sense of isolation from their co-workers that can come from limited face-to-face meetings as well as a decrease in hours. Affinity groups – groups that bring together those with shared identities, interests, and experiences – can help prevent this isolation and lead to increased career advancement and satisfaction.
In fact, Affinity groups can be created around any underrepresented group of individuals such as members of the LGBT community, members of a particular race or ethnicity or those working flexible schedules, but have most commonly been created for women in law firms. Creating an Affinity Group is an excellent way to build community and provide employees with a support system of others who share similar identities or experiences.
There’s Strength in Numbers
The most important aspect of an Affinity Group is to build a community and a space for fellowship, allowing individuals with shared interests and goals to come together regularly. Members of an Affinity Group are stronger together because they can work together to address common challenges and unite around common opportunities. While meeting face-to-face with group members is ideal, virtual meetings can be considered if the group members are spread apart geographically. It’s important to note that members of the Affinity Group can include those who don’t share the identity of the group, but who support it (for example, men who support the goals of a women’s Affinity Group or leadership who act as “champions” for the group).
Professional Development Opportunities That Are Not One-Size Fits All
Different groups of professionals need different types of professional development and training. Affinity Groups are ideal for ensuring that members are receiving adequate professional development and training geared towards the advancement of the particular needs of the diverse group.
A Win-Win for Individuals and the Firm as a Whole
Affinity Groups can be used to monitor the progress of the underrepresented group within the larger community. Leaders in the firm can turn to the Affinity Group for guidance and to hear concerns and ideas for solutions relevant to the particular group. This allows the firm’s leadership to address issues that can impede business, affect the culture of the firm, and challenge its commitment to diversity.
Contact us for more information and advice on forming an Affinity Group.