I was in a meeting at work where the use of affinity groups to disseminate marketing material and bolster volunteerism was discussed. I'm not sure either one of those things is cool, but here it was, being discussed by people with big heads and degrees in this stuff. They were saying that it is OK to market the Firm as "the right firm for Latin Americans" to Latinos and the "right firm for African Americans" to African Americans through the unconventional, more word of mouth distributions by the affinity groups formed at the Firm. Is that genuine, or is it misrepresentation?
Volunteerism was discussed because people in a certain affinity group, it was said, will have a stronger tendency to sustain volunteer activity that directly benefits people with whom they identify. Is that really volunteerism after all, then? And, we know that the effort was supported as free marketing by building goodwill in the affinity group communities.
Here's the thing: should these activities be encouraged and supported by the Firm? Aren't affinity groups tools of exclusion rather than inclusion? And, tacitly, my group, the white male group, is excluded from having an affinity group. Are these groups as a whole a manifestation of man's modern need for Othering?