Employee networks are an incredibly powerful way to engage people in equality, diversity and inclusion. They play a key role in supporting employees, but how do you go about setting them up?

1. Consult with senior leadership

Before setting up an employee network, ensure that all management teams are fully engaged, onboard and supportive. Buy-in from a senior level will encourage employees to join and allow the networks to have gravitas when speaking out on and tackling issues of inequality and inequity.

2. Elect a Chair

Employee networks are run on a voluntary basis, so finding someone who is passionate about supporting the network, who will be able to host initial events and liaise with senior leadership will, ultimately, determine its success.

Your Chair may benefit from coaching if this is not a role they have previously filled. Tell Jane provides coaching workshops to assist in the first stages of chairing an employee network and helping the individual to feel confident in their new role. Get in touch to find out more.

3. Create a communication plan

Effective communication between employee networks and senior management ensures that issues raised are addressed in a methodical and structured manner. Communication plans should include a network ‘Champion’ or ally who fully supports the network and is able to liaise with the Board or other senior staff about its work. It is important the Chair and Champion have regular meetings to ensure effective communication.

4. Speak to other networks

Your organisation may already have networks for other protected characteristics. Encourage members to find out about what they do, what works well and what doesn’t. Networks may also explore joint initiatives, such as International Women’s Day, Pride or Black History Month.

5. Spread the word

Use internal communication channels to share information about the employee networks and ask for volunteers. Internal channels such as newsletters, intranet highlights, team meetings are vital in recruiting members. Be sure to also share information throughout the year through these channels, as well as through induction programmes and annual company-wide events, to ensure each network communicates its work effectively.

Our seasoned CIPD-qualified HR practitioners at Tell Jane are on hand to support in setting up employee networks within your business. Email hello@telljane.co.uk to find out more.

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