Employee affinity groups
At the University of Washington, employee affinity groups are groups of employees based on shared social identities and characteristics, including allies who support those identities. Affinity groups are typically created to support, promote and foster a sense of community and belonging within the organization. Participation is voluntary and may include attending meetings, social events and other activities that allow members to connect, network and learn from one another.
Employee affinity groups align with the following goals of the UW’s Diversity Blueprint:
Goal 1: Cultivate an accessible, inclusive, and equitable climate
Goal 3: Attract and retain diverse academic personnel
Goal 4: Attract and retain diverse staff
The Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity (OMA&D) and UW Human Resources (UWHR) partner to support employee affinity groups at the University of Washington. This shared responsibility is to provide leadership oversight, mentorship, equitable funding, marketing, events support and to ensure adherence to university policies. OMA&D holds primary responsibility for the affinity groups that were formalized as part of the Leadership, Community and Values Initiative in 2007 – 2008. UWHR holds primary responsibility for affinity groups approved in 2023 onward following the process outlined below.
Process for approval
Timing of Review: Requests to approve new affinity groups will be considered by the OMA&D and UWHR every two years in advance of the state’s biennium calendar.
Request Submission: Employees requesting recognition for an affinity group should submit a written request to email@example.com by May 31 of the biennium year close (calendar years 2025, 2027, etc.). The request should include details about the group’s purpose, its unique contribution, alignment with UW Diversity Blueprint goals, data-driven need based on local census data or climate surveys, and steps taken to gauge community interest, including if they have confirmed a UW leader (typically a dean, chancellor, vice president or vice provost) to serve as executive sponsor and other founding members who are committed to establishing and sustaining the affinity group.
Review Committee: A review committee made up of representatives from OMA&D and UWHR will assess requests based on the following approval criteria:
- The purpose of the group aligns with the University of Washington’s Diversity Blueprint goals: Goal 1: Cultivate an accessible, inclusive, and equitable climate; Goal 3: attract and retain diverse academic personnel and Goal 4: Attract and retain diverse academic personnel.
- The group serves a unique need that is not currently being addressed by existing affinity groups.
- The group has documented that there is a data-driven need for the proposed affinity group through local census data, climate assessments or other higher ed affiliated survey.
- The group has a clear plan of action for establishing and sustaining the group, including identifying potential members and an executive sponsor if one hasn’t already been engaged.
- The group has demonstrated significant community interest in the establishment of the group.
Approval: If the request is approved, the employees will be provided with guidelines on how to establish and sustain the group, as well as training on compliance with University policies on non-discrimination and harassment and the use of University resources.