The power of community: 4 examples from around the globe

What makes a community powerful? Can one community change a person’s life?
How do companies and brands around the world make a difference?

Let’s have a look at four different communities that have been meaningful to their members or have cultivated greater impact around their surroundings.

Engineering students
Engineering students building projects for disadvantaged communities. Engineers Without Borders | Photo: This is Engineering

Fostering an inclusive workspace

The 1960s.
A group of African American Xerox employees gathered to discuss race-based tension in the workplace. The group later formed into the Black Employee Caucus, the first Employee Resource Group (ERG) in the world, with support from the Xerox CEO at the time. Today, ERGs are found in 90% of Fortune 500 companies.

ERGs are internal organization groups aimed to encourage a diverse and inclusive workplace. They operate in accordance with the organization’s values and goals, and are usually led by volunteer employees. Groups are usually created around a common affinity such as gender, ethnicity, religion, or a shared interest. Through the groups, underrepresented employees receive personal and professional development opportunities, and often tackle wider challenges at their local communities.

With 35,000 Google employees (“Googlers”) who are participating in the company’s ERGs across 52 countries, Google is a global leader in the field.

Some of Google ERGs groups include the Black Googlers Network which supports the Black community at the company, the Disability Alliance that connects Googlers affected by disabilities, and the Greyglers, which gathers the company’s elder employees. Women@Google, who promote gender equality, is the largest employee network in the world.

Why is it powerful? Let’s take the Black Googlers Network for instance. They create opportunities to increase connectivity and build community through meetings. Moreover, they launched a summer intern outreach program connecting interns from underrepresented groups with engineers for open conversations and fun events.

Are you dealing with employee engagement?

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Motivating individuals to maintain a healthy life

Operating in more than 60 cities in the world, Adidas Runners is a running community with daily events and activities at no cost. Individuals over the age of 18 are welcome to join various activities, from running to strength and nutrition, where they receive guidance from coaches and experts in these fields.

Behind this global community is a holistic approach for healthy life, according to the company. It combines setting the right mindset to achieve each one’s goals, adjusting the nutrition lifestyle, support in getting the motivation, advice of how to run and avoid injuries, and of course, getting the gear (not surprisingly).

Each local community offers inspiration to individuals to kick off and start running, and helps them with building accountability to persist in their runs, when they face challenges. The sense of belonging around the common goal of running is a key factor. And according to studies, when you share your goals and progress with others, your chances of accomplishment are higher.

Adidas Runners
Inspiring individuals to take responsibility for their own health. Adidas Runners. | Photo: Adidas

Collaborating online

What can people accomplish when they come together?

Open-source communities have proven this for a long time: from the content management system WordPress (where this blog is actually written), to the operating system Linux, and the version control system, Git.

Open-source communities offer the ability to any individuals with common interests to join projects and collaboratively build them, whether it’s a project for the community or beyond. While the GitHub Community is the largest community of developers who share their code and collaborate, it is worth mentioning the Stack Overflow community.

Through the Stack Overflow website, professional and devoted developers upload technical questions and help others with answers by responding and vetting the answers. Users receive badges according to their contribution, and one can gain a reputation by contributing. With more than 100 million monthly visitors, it’s a great space to receive fast answers to daily technical challenges.

In 2021, Stack Overflow launched Collectives, similar to Reddit’s focused boards. The Collectives are branded sub-communities, where companies can organize and sort certain technical languages, products, or services, and extract data such as engagement and common questions.

Since early 2022, the community also offers companies employer branding solutions through the Talent section, to engage with technological talents.

What else can we learn from open-source communities?

Get inspiration about decision making in communities from open-source cases

Supporting communities beyond borders

Started in France in the 1980s, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) implements engineering projects for the benefit of local disadvantaged communities and individuals.

Today, there are various EWB organizations around the world; non-governmental organizations that implement these projects. Many of these organizations are members today of the association Engineers Without Borders International, which helps them collaborate, exchange knowledge, and create shared and cross-organizational projects.

The educational method behind the organizations is volunteer students who get experience by learning and practicing technical and nontechnical skills through building projects. Teachers are supporting the students while they work with their beneficiaries and local community partners.

Projects include creating electricity through off-grid renewable energy, developing filters to provide clean water, building toilets, connecting communities to the internet network, reducing pollution, and others.

And what’s the impact? EWB Australia and its thousands volunteers, for example, have been working in 18 countries, contributed to 12 SDGs, and worked with 64 community organization partners.

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I believe that a powerful community is one that gives value to its members and serves as a place where they feel belong. When community members get together, magic happens and its sparks are felt beyond the community and touch many more.

Which communities make you say “Wow!”? Are you taking a part in a community that is meaningful for you? Comment below or let me know directly. It’s always inspiring to learn about what a group of people can achieve together.

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