Just got an invitation for a female network at my company. Am I the only one who does not fully agree with professional networks at work only based on gender? And if you like these kind of networks can you maybe explain why? I am trying to get a more nuanced view on this

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Don’t join then :) but for me it’s been helpful to have a group that is targeting content to part of my specific needs/experience. The ERGs I’m a part of are a make up of me and I get a little something from each. Not particularly feminine or girly, but I am undeniably a woman and while all our experiences are different there are certain aspects that are universal or at least shared

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We have that at my firm. I like the idea simply because there are things that are difficult to discuss with male bosses or peers. For example, I can freely ask a female boss (who I know has my back) how to deal with a male boss that doesn’t like my straightforward tone. Most male bosses wouldn’t be very helpful precisely because... statistically they don’t get shit for being straightforward/blunt. I think the base case is at every firm you’re free to network with anyone by just looking them up on the directory and pinging them. You can also leverage your own professional connections to reach across the gender line. But the female network, I simply consider it to be a place where females/those IDing as females can be intentional about sharing/giving advice on experiences that statistically don’t pertain to men.

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I really appreciate your comment. And I definitely appreciate having strong female mentors. I was lucky enough that my first performance manager at my old firm was exactly that. This network specifically is for young women at my firm so there will be no senior women there. I guess I just have a hard time with networks that are excluding in nature. But I appreciate your points and I think I will try to go to the first event (virtual) before deciding whether this is something I want to participate in or not.

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I personally love such groups. Apart from what BlackRock 1 mentioned, these groups also help you find peers or juniors. With peers, I have been able to ask for help about general culture, policies that impact us especially women friendly policies (such as access to free sanitary pads in case emergency), dealing with difficult bosses (because they are in the same situation right now as opposed to a mentor who may have faced it a while ago), dealing with casual sexism etc. This group is also a life-long connect where I have stayed in touch with people who moved out of the organisation and support each other throughout your career. However, I do agree this doesn't have to be necessarily gendered. With juniors, this helps me hone my skill as a mentor. I am quite new at this and having people who reach out to you for advise, where you can share your experiences is life changing. It also makes you think and reflect on your experiences so far and what you want to change.

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It's a completely valid point. Several of these networks or groups only meet in March. So you are right, they shouldn't be gendered. But I suggest you can check one out. If you don't like it, you don't have to participate again. If you do, attend more.

I've gone back and forth on this quite a bit actually. Early on, I think these groups are great because they usually are formed around minorities at a company to help them come together and find their voice. They are a peer network to share simar concerns, be heard, and get advice. (Not population minorities but company minorities. That's an important distinction.) After a while though, I think they sometimes lose their purpose and the create and perpetuate an "us" vs "them" mentality that's not always healthy. Meaning that women's issues, for example, are not something that should only be attended by women. But because it's by this group, men usually don't attend or do so because they are concerned about optics more than the issue being discussed... Long story short, I no longer join or attend. I know some people still consider them personally helpful, but I think there are other ways of creating that community while also creating a more inclusive and understanding workplace.

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I like your idea of checking it out first. Assume positive intent .

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