A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about how her huge company has a pretty strict face time requirement at the office. As a parent she felt it really limited her upward mobility at the company, and she felt somewhat like she didn’t have a voice in the matter. So we began pondering: how do you start a special interest group at your office to give people in a similar situation a voice? Do you think starting such a group puts a target on your back (as in, you want to work on Easy Street, not Real Life)? Do you think it’s better to band together with other working parents — or couch such a group’s interests in terms of “women’s interests” — or a more general work/life committee?
(Some offices even have work/life committees, of course — which sometimes leads to pretty comical comparisons of things like “making it a priority to go to a Katy Perry concert” vs. general parenting, or “Katy Perry concert” vs. labor and delivery. I swear I am not making that up, that was actually a comparison used in a law firm memo.)
Some tips for starting your own affinity group, such as one for working parents:
- Look for the opportunity. Whether you call it a group for working parents vs. a women’s group vs. a work/life group may be based largely on who your biggest allies/co-founders might be.
- Note of course that the bigger your company, the more the presence of such a group is going to make a difference in recruiting/press. For example, if you can get your company recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of the best companies for women, or if you can differentiate your company from another fungible office environment (Big Law firms, for example, all look largely the same to many lawyers who don’t really know what their focus will be), that’s a good thing to play up when forming it.
- Realize that it may be more work — for no extra money. I think this is the biggest issue for most working mothers. Will it lead to advancement? Will it lead to an increase in salary? Or should you just shut up and play the game until you have the power to change things by yourself, without the aid of a group?
Ladies, are you members of such groups — what do you like or dislike about them? Have you formed your own group? How did/does it look, and what tips would you give to someone else?
- How to Launch a Women’s Affinity Group in Your Office [Career Girl Network]
- How to Start a Working Parents Group in Your Office [Care@Work / Care.com]
- How to Form a “Working Moms Posse” at Your Office [Mindful Return]
- Let’s Do Lunch [Fit Pregnancy]
Psst: we just covered professional organizations over at Corporette.