For many businesses, the pandemic triggered a variety of changes, including a major shift to remote work. Some of the companies had been long practicing this approach, others — had to adapt on the go. Anyway, we can admit that working from home is here to stay and has become a new way of normalcy.
The pandemic has upended just about every aspect of your business — including the work you’ve put in to build your organizational culture. Doubling-down on virtual employee resource groups can help protect company culture in times of crisis.
According to a survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, 37% of organizations are encouraging ERG leaders to communicate the concerns of their group during the pandemic. At the same time, the survey reveals, 37% of companies admit they’re not leveraging their ERGs right now. Here are 5 ways virtual employee resource groups can benefit your people and your business while building a remote work culture.
DEI work is already complex as it is, requiring dedicated capacity, time for ongoing learning, a cultural commitment to improvement, and a willingness on behalf of the organization to change both practices and overall paradigms.
In exploring remote DEI, NOTA Inclusion has identified several key opportunities on why ERGs matter even more in a remote workplace.
Employee resource groups keep people connected
ERGs plug into issues employees care about, like diversity, equity, accessibility, and social justice. Today’s employee resource groups often serve companies by holding leadership accountable. Whether remote or in person. ERGs are also ready-made spaces for connection, networking and learning.
They create a forum where people from different departments and geographies can strike up unexpected alliances. In that sense, they also address two deep concerns of employers as they look toward a remote-work future: that connectedness and morale will fall off a cliff as people continue to work cloistered in their home offices, and that innovation will suffer without workers from various departments randomly and organically striking up conversations.
During the pandemic, ERGs became safe spaces (metaphorical rooms) where people could connect and replenish their relationship with other colleagues. Whether bonding over an identity connected to race, gender, orientation or shared interests like climate change activism or mental health. ERGs made room for black employees to find refuge in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and they also worked with leaders to gain education on how to take action. Resource groups became critical channels of communication and have a huge ability to make positive impact on building an inclusive remote culture.
Employee Resource groups can create opportunities for Professional Development
ERGs offer unique opportunities for employees to network with people outside of their function and at different levels of leadership. Participants can share L&D resources and ask questions about how to move forward in their career. ERGs also can forge mentorship relationships, which are harder to come by in a virtual environment.
While it’s clear virtual employee resource groups can help break down silos and promote organization wide inclusion, it’s also important to look for ways the ERGs can expand and intersect. That could mean facilitating subgroups or even creating an Intersectionality ERG. But whatever you do, don’t eliminate ERGs in an attempt at unity. If you do, you’ll run the risk of demoralizing and isolating your most engaged employees.
Nota Inclusion has built a process that facilitates and creates intersectionality between all of your ERGs. We have led this process with global organizations as well as national organizations, and the outcomes are outstanding. Regardless of geographic location, the experiences many employees have within the company, more specifically of those running ERGs do intersect. For us our goal is to always find that intersection and support ERGs by creating a year long program in line with that intersection. If you are looking for support, mentorship or an agency to help drive that intersection reach out to us via email at email@example.com for more information.