UK: Diversifying Your Network Potential

Last Updated: 18 December 2012
Article by Ama Afrifa-Kyei

I'm sitting on the train home thinking of the topic I will blog about - diversity networks. What purpose do they really serve and are they worthwhile?  Looking around the carriage, there are so many different people, and I wonder if any of them belong to a diversity network or group?

Working in the City, I believe having diversity networks within the workplace is important, because people should feel a part of or have an affinity to something – whether it's a shared sense of purpose, or an opportunity to connect with like-minded people.

At Deloitte, where I work, we have nine diversity networks which cover faith, multicultural, lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT), parents and carers, and disability & mental health. With more than 4,000 members combined, our networks help to build bridges between Deloitte employees and communities outside the firm.  Supported at partner level, each of the networks has a leader, and group who help manage the network, volunteering their spare time to create an inclusive workplace culture.

Participation is not confined to just the members of each network. They're open to all - everyone can take part in, and contribute to the development of them. It's an open forum for all employees to share, learn, network and enhance diversity and inclusion within the firm.

As network lead for Deloitte's Multicultural network, I'm often faced with the question; 'how can we connect with our network members effectively and include other people from within the firm and clients?'  We do this by arranging interesting and exciting activities, initiatives and events to help educate other people about the network, and to also give our members a chance to speak to other people within the firm with similar beliefs or views.  Being multicultural is in the firms DNA; our network has a host of different ethnic and nationality groups, so catering to all is not an easy task.

There is a shared responsibility between myself and the Multicultural network committee team to consistently raise the bar in what we deliver to the network to ensure that apathy amongst members is minimal and that we don't lose touch with them. However, there is also a responsibility for members of the Multicultural network to utilise the opportunities offered and be proactive in navigating their personal and professional development as a result of being member of the network.

As our networks grow from strength to strength, it's clear that their purpose and value is influential to the firm's diversity strategy. They help drive and shape the firm's diversity and inclusion agenda.  The networks are constantly involved in employees working days, for example, hosting events internally, for clients or graduate recruitment events. The majority of diversity networks at Deloitte are involved in mentoring programmes, either internally or as part of the firm's community investment, or both. 

If you believe that diversity and inclusion are priorities for talent management and building an inclusive culture in the workplace, diversity networks can play a pivotal role in shaping this precedence and creating a more inclusive workplace.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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