Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are informal communities of employees within corporations that are formed as minority or underserved groups. The groups formed in each organization can vary but most converge based on race, gender, abilities, stages of life among other factors in attempts to group people based on dimensions of identities.
Although there are different levels of people engagement within ERGs, the best insight into an ERG is from the employees engaged within the ERG. Depending on how the company structures the ERGs, the leaders and/or participants are the few employees that are responsible for executing initiatives. The membership includes every employee that falls into the ERG category regardless of their even participation status.
If you are not directly engaged with an ERG and just observing from the outside, it’s easy to categorize an ERG as a “social” and “extra-curriculum” network. However, even without active participation in an ERG, the ERG group can generate actionable insights for business leaders and executives to build a more inclusive organization.
Here are 6 insights “from the minds of ERG leaders” and tips on how your organization can act on them:
- “I am Exhausted” : Your ERG is not your DEI strategy or your DEI team. ERGs can be partnered with different functions and are ideally an extension of the existing DEI team and strategy. Having ERGS do all the unpaid work of building inclusion across your company is a setup for failure for the employees and for the organizations. Get a headcount to support ERGs operations. Paying the ERG or giving a bonus without taking action to reduce their workload is not healthy or sustainable for your ERG volunteer leaders.
- Revise how your organization supports the groups.
- “This is not my Day Job” : Does your Employee want It to be? Think highly engaged employees, development plan, and engagement opportunity. Not all passionate ERG members and leaders want to quit their day jobs and work in DEI full-time. But for those that desire the shift, are you providing that opportunity? What is your retention plan for highly engaged employees?
- How can you provide the right developmental path and a succession plan that shows your employees you care ?
- “Tell that to my manager” : Having an employee performance review that does not recognize or acknowledge the ERG experience as a value add or worth rewarding means you continue to communicate to the managers and the teams that ERG work is like a side hobby that keeps them busy. The insinuation is that they have too much time on their hands for “ERG stuff”.
- Educate people managers on supporting ERG engagement and suggesting participation in specific events for employee development.
- “Not Sure this is all appreciated anyway” : Appreciate your ERGs, Reward your ERGs. Include your ERGs in strategic discussions, task forces, and initiatives where they can truly contribute. Compensations conversations are on the rise. Think outside the box when it comes to appreciation.
- Rewards, Career opportunities, Development opportunities, Vacation time can all be great ways to appreciate your ERGs.
- “Wish we had more data” : Share data that shows where the need exists and also communicates what differences the ERG initiatives are making.
- The data can be a motivation for the ERGs and a guide for strategic direction.
- “Wonder how everyone else is navigating their ERG” : ERG can be hard work but it doesn’t have to be lonely. Leverage External Partnerships that support ERGS overall and your specific groups. What actions can be taken?
- As an organization, you can partner with DEI organizations with specific ERG-focused activities and events such as Catalyst, ERG leadership Alliance, RISE. They provide external data and benchmarks to guide and shape your ERG strategy and support your journey.
- As Individual employees, if you are looking for a space to connect with other ERG members from different companies Join the Linkedin Group “Community of Global Employee Resource Groups”. Connect with ERG members from other companies and join facilitated monthly live calls focused on ERG’s best practices and discussions.
There is a lot more to each of these comments and the impact can vary based on the industry and location. If you need help, supporting your ERG programs, events, developing program strategies reach out for ERG consulting to [email protected] or via LinkedIn and let’s chat.