How Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can impact your diversity, equity and inclusion mandates

Ten Thousand Coffees Team -
June 8, 2022

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has become a focal point for companies today because it's good for business. While many have DEI programs in place, a recent SHRM report suggests that most have implemented ineffective, dated strategies that don’t deliver concrete results. If you find your organization in a similar situation, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can make a difference. 

What’s An Employee Resource Group (ERG)?

Employee resource groups are employee-led initiatives aimed at fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Participation in an ERG is voluntary, and they are normally endorsed by an executive sponsor. While the executive sponsor isn’t a direct contributor, they support the group by using their influence to promote the group, and also offer a connection to company leaders and access to budgets.

ERGs are generally organized around common identities, interests or cultural backgrounds. They support underrepresented employees by broadening their professional networks and by opening doors to mentorship or sponsorship opportunities they might not be exposed to. They also give an opportunity for employees to collectively voice key messages and issues across their organization. 

The Role ERGs Can Have In A Company

Tactically, ERGs can address a range of issues such as improving the work experience for underrepresented employees, creating a safe space for open and free dialogue, and building an inclusive work environment for all employees.

In hybrid work environments where a large proportion of employees could be working remotely at any one time, ERG networks provide an outlet for open dialogue and community building. In any corporation, it can be easy for marginalized groups to feel isolated since many people don’t look like them – ERGs help create an inclusive environment that ensures underrepresented employees feel like they belong. 

ERGs also provide a platform for companies to spearhead coordinated, rapid responses to major social events that impact their employees. When racial protests swept across the US in 2020 due to George Floyd’s murder, Salesforce was able to rapidly set up a Racial Equality and Justice task force to address four key areas - people, philanthropy, purchasing, and policy. It was Salesforce’s employee resource group for Black employees, BOLDforce, that provided guidance to the task force.  

But ERG networks help solve another key issue that many underrepresented employees can’t overcome on their own, the networking and relationship gap, which is closely tied to how a company can achieve its diversity, equity and inclusion goals. 

How ERGs Can Help Your DEI Goals

ERGs are an important part of a winning corporate DEI strategy, as they help attract, retain and promote diverse talent into leadership positions. Many companies have DEI goals and mandates, and ERGs are a means to achieve them.

For example, hiring managers and leaders can heavily rely on trusted informal networks to promote, recognize and recruit talent. If you’re not part of those networks, it can be difficult to gain exposure to career advancement opportunities. Unfortunately unconscious biases and nepotism create barriers that make it a challenge for underrepresented employees to gain exposure to the same advancement and hiring opportunities as their white coworkers.

In a recent webinar hosted by 10KC, Anissa Thompson, Managing Director of Software and Platforms for Accenture, explained that ERGs are what has made their DEI programs successful, “At Accenture, we not only have employee resource groups (ERGs), but we make sure they have the support they need to be able to thrive, and the right access to leadership…we need different people to access those important networks.”

Overall, ERG networks play an important role in making diversity and inclusion programming a part of everyday work life. To create meaningful change, it’s critical for HR, DEI and business leaders to create safe spaces for underrepresented employees at their companies. ERGs provide this opportunity.

Learn more about what Employee Resource Groups can do for you

Whether you’re new to ERGs or have a program in place already, we can help. Visit our DEI solution to learn more about how we can help you build a DEI program that drives engagement, promotion and retention.

Webinar

How Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can impact your diversity, equity and inclusion mandates

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has become a focal point for companies today because it's good for business. While many have DEI programs in place, a recent SHRM report suggests that most have implemented ineffective, dated strategies that don’t deliver concrete results. If you find your organization in a similar situation, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can make a difference. 

What’s An Employee Resource Group (ERG)?

Employee resource groups are employee-led initiatives aimed at fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Participation in an ERG is voluntary, and they are normally endorsed by an executive sponsor. While the executive sponsor isn’t a direct contributor, they support the group by using their influence to promote the group, and also offer a connection to company leaders and access to budgets.

ERGs are generally organized around common identities, interests or cultural backgrounds. They support underrepresented employees by broadening their professional networks and by opening doors to mentorship or sponsorship opportunities they might not be exposed to. They also give an opportunity for employees to collectively voice key messages and issues across their organization. 

The Role ERGs Can Have In A Company

Tactically, ERGs can address a range of issues such as improving the work experience for underrepresented employees, creating a safe space for open and free dialogue, and building an inclusive work environment for all employees.

In hybrid work environments where a large proportion of employees could be working remotely at any one time, ERG networks provide an outlet for open dialogue and community building. In any corporation, it can be easy for marginalized groups to feel isolated since many people don’t look like them – ERGs help create an inclusive environment that ensures underrepresented employees feel like they belong. 

ERGs also provide a platform for companies to spearhead coordinated, rapid responses to major social events that impact their employees. When racial protests swept across the US in 2020 due to George Floyd’s murder, Salesforce was able to rapidly set up a Racial Equality and Justice task force to address four key areas - people, philanthropy, purchasing, and policy. It was Salesforce’s employee resource group for Black employees, BOLDforce, that provided guidance to the task force.  

But ERG networks help solve another key issue that many underrepresented employees can’t overcome on their own, the networking and relationship gap, which is closely tied to how a company can achieve its diversity, equity and inclusion goals. 

How ERGs Can Help Your DEI Goals

ERGs are an important part of a winning corporate DEI strategy, as they help attract, retain and promote diverse talent into leadership positions. Many companies have DEI goals and mandates, and ERGs are a means to achieve them.

For example, hiring managers and leaders can heavily rely on trusted informal networks to promote, recognize and recruit talent. If you’re not part of those networks, it can be difficult to gain exposure to career advancement opportunities. Unfortunately unconscious biases and nepotism create barriers that make it a challenge for underrepresented employees to gain exposure to the same advancement and hiring opportunities as their white coworkers.

In a recent webinar hosted by 10KC, Anissa Thompson, Managing Director of Software and Platforms for Accenture, explained that ERGs are what has made their DEI programs successful, “At Accenture, we not only have employee resource groups (ERGs), but we make sure they have the support they need to be able to thrive, and the right access to leadership…we need different people to access those important networks.”

Overall, ERG networks play an important role in making diversity and inclusion programming a part of everyday work life. To create meaningful change, it’s critical for HR, DEI and business leaders to create safe spaces for underrepresented employees at their companies. ERGs provide this opportunity.

Learn more about what Employee Resource Groups can do for you

Whether you’re new to ERGs or have a program in place already, we can help. Visit our DEI solution to learn more about how we can help you build a DEI program that drives engagement, promotion and retention.

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