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CHICAGO -- Affinity groups are growing in the CPG/retail industry due to their ability to provide new insights and productivity from within organizations, according to a new report from the Network of Executive Women.
The study, "Affinity Networks: Building Organizations Stronger Than Their Parts," includes interviews with affinity advocates from Procter & Gamble and Safeway, as well as results of a NEW affinity networks survey conducted earlier this year with Sheryl Koning of Koning Associates.
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Two-thirds of companies responding to a NEW survey have women's affinity networks at their organizations, and many have specialized women's affinity networks, including groups for senior management women, women in sales, and women of color.
"This best practices paper is a key initiative in providing support to our sponsors and fostering change in our industry," said Helayne Angelus, NEW president.
"Affinity networks are an increasing part of the corporate landscape, and it's easy to see why," the report states. "They require little investment except time and understanding, and provide a multitude of benefits in return. Affinity groups help recruitment and retention; increase morale; provide insights into diverse markets; build bridges to outside communities; reduce grievances and litigation; and empower employees. Affinity groups build bonds between network members and the larger organization and improve coordination among network members themselves."
The 2,500-word report features advice for establishing and advancing affinity networks, including: Engaging the support of management; spreading affinity networks beyond headquarters to involve field offices and even home-based employees; recruiting "passionate people;" identifying each network's purpose and goals; and enlisting understanding sponsors or advisors to guide affinity groups.
The Affinity Networks Report is the third in a series of best practices white papers published by NEW. Earlier reports have focused on gender diversity in management and women of color in management. For information visit www.newonline.org.