Action Categories

Affinity Groups and Networks Baker Tilly


Create a more inclusive and connected environment in an era of multi-generation workplaces and highly distributed teams.


We use “data for good” to understand our workforce and develop a realistic plan to foster inclusion and belonging. For example, the majority of our workforce are Gen X and Y. Understanding this influences how people learn, the way we communicate, and how we work. Another example is non-majority representation where our actions tie directly to decreasing turnover. Data review gave visibility to three focus areas: gender, ethnicity and age. GROW (Growth and Retention of Women) and SOAR (Supporting Opportunity, Advancement and Recognition) are existing signature initiatives that align to gender and ethnicity; NexGen is a new focus area that considers generational differences. These focus areas declare our intention for a more inclusive and connected environment. They shape how we communicate, collaborate, connect, prioritize and measure our results.


GROW, SOAR, and NexGen focus areas have national committees aligned with a national steering committee chaired by our CEO. Together they formulate and execute strategy. Our three focus areas provide the framework for Team Member Networks – groups formed by team members for team members around common interests and attributes. Team Member Networks foster a sense of belonging. In addition to common interests – from rock climbers to movie buffs to Jeep® enthusiasts – Team Member Networks also form around common attributes. This might be a network of new moms or dads returning from family leave, an LGBTQA network, or an Asian-American network. Team Member Networks are powerful because they are personal. This structure addresses distributed teams where locally there may not be critical mass but virtually team members can still find each other and connect across the organization. Technology enable networks such as video and a forthcoming communications and collaboration social enterprise platform.


Alan D. Whitman


We do not view diversity, inclusion and belonging as a program or something we ‘have to do.’ We genuinely believe that this is who we are. Because this is who we are, we take a holistic approach to embed the philosophy and practices of diversity, inclusion and belonging into all aspects of our business – from strategy to operations. This includes the way we recruit, how we develop and promote team members, how we serve clients, how we run projects, and how we treat each other. Day in, day out. This is not easy to do. It is much easier to roll out a program as ‘evidence’ of our commitment. However, we are not interested in scratching the surface. We want to effect change for the long run – in our firm and in our profession. Team members who have a true sense of belonging is more important than statistics. An open and curious mindset is more important than written policies. We use diversity, inclusion & belonging as a lens to make everything better.

Alan D. Whitman
Chairman and CEO
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