Companies Worldwide are creating and funding Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in order to bring together and leverage key groups in the workforce. Whether you’re just starting out with ERGs or contemplating how to keep the momentum going, read on for tips on what you should be doing to maximize the value of your ERGs.
Let’s start by defining what an ERG is?
ERGs also known as Affinity Groups are a powerful solution for organizations wishing to improve diversity and inclusion among certain underrepresented groups. ERGs, sometimes called business resource or affinity groups, are voluntary employee-led groups formed around individuals with certain common characteristics—such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or other demographics—and social and advocacy goals within an organization.
How can ERGs be formed?
In response to a specific diversity and Inclusion Issue uncovered in the organization
as a result of a request by members of a certain group who would like representation
or simply out of a sense that it’s the right thing to do in order to give a group a voice
Now it is important to note, how do you grow an ERG?
We all know that socializing is an important factor, and a great opportunity for members of the organization to create community. However, ERGs are not a social club, their main goal should be to offer education and opportunities of advancement to the group they represent. This is also a great way to break biases and stereotypes regarding this specific population. Every ERG should offer the four Cs of advancement:
It is important that executive sponsors of the ERGs emphasize and work alongside the ERG to help position them both internally and outside of the organization. The more the ERG makes itself known, the more it’s members feel they’re a part of something important, and the more prospective members want to be involved.
How to leverage ERGs?
1. Introduce ERGs during the onboarding process. New hires are looking for ways to feel included in a new work environment. Sharing information about available ERGs is an excellent way to develop a sense of belonging.
2. Align the ERGs with the companies DEI-B goals. Interested in increasing minority leadership in the workplace? Share with the current ERG leaders the strategic plan and allow them to curate a session about leadership development within the ERG and report back to you their ideas. This may result in a new ERG group being formed that aligns with this particular part of the company plan.
3. Encourage ERGs to invite outside speakers for professional development and/or invite employees to speak within the organization who have a unique perspective or experience to share. This can serve as inspiration for other employees who are considering their own professional development goals. Employees also now have additional ways to network.
4. Contact your HR department if there is an ERG that you are interested in starting. After you have identified how your ERG will align with the company goals, the HR department can help you identify a sponsor and promote the group.
Tough it’s useful to build ERGs around common characteristics, it’s important to remember that individual employees may have to pick and choose between several but relevant ERGs they can participate. Our company has been supporting ERG groups within large corporations with Speakers, branding, logistics and project management. Allowing them to focus on the vision, and our team taking from their plate the heaviness of the work. If you are looking for support to help elevate and position your company’s ERGs, make sure to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Make sure to check out our post on how Employee Resource Groups can be Your Company’s Strategic Ally.