Employee Resource Groups

The fundamental aim of an employee resource group is to support underrepresented employees in the workplace. To achieve this, ERGs foster diverse, inclusive, community-centric workplaces that provide personal and professional support to members.

Understanding employee resource groups

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led teams whose objective is to create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

Those involved in employee resource groups tend to share common traits such as gender identity, religious affiliation, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, parental status, or some other demographic characteristic. ERGs can also be set up for employees in specific roles such as remote employees or working parents.

While ERGs work to represent those whose needs may be less accounted for in company policies, they are by no means exclusive.

Employee resource groups help underrepresented members connect with others in the organization, share their culture or values with others, and raise awareness around important issues.

Studies have also shown that the diversity ERGs advocate encourages radical innovation since employees feel more comfortable sharing ideas.

How to create an employee resource group

Here is a brief look at the steps required to create an ERG:

Assess employee interest

Before an organization commits to an ERG, it is important to determine whether there is sufficient employee interest to maintain one.

Questionnaires or employee demographic data can be useful here.

Obtain executive buy-in

ERG leaders must be able to explain the purpose of the group to executives and use data to prove there is sufficient need.

They must also create a plan for how the ERG will be run to secure funding for activities.

Define the ERG’s mission

Like a company mission statement, one or two sentences should clearly and concisely state the purpose of the ERG and why it matters.

Recruit members

Aside from obvious candidates, leaders must also decide whether the ERG will accept allies.

These are members who do not identify with an underrepresented group but who are nonetheless passionate about diversity and inclusion.

Host the first meeting

This is a good time to establish goals, decide on the causes the ERG will support and brainstorm ideas for activities or events.

While there are no formal rules in an employee resource group, it can be prudent to nominate a leadership committee to manage the group – especially once it reaches a certain size.

Maintain organizational support

To ensure the longevity of the ERG, it must have the continued financial support of senior management.

Group leaders must be able to work collaboratively with their superiors to explain how the ERG is impacting the organization for the better.

Employee resource group examples

We will now conclude by mentioning three companies that utilize ERGs in the workplace:


With over 170 nationalities represented in its workforce, Hilton has nine employee resource groups which the company calls Team Member Resource Groups (TMRGs).

Groups exist for various minorities and there is also support for military veterans and those with visible or invisible disabilities.


Telecommunications company AT&T considers ERGs to be “the cultural lifeblood of our organization with 26 groups comprised of almost 89,000 members.

Groups include Faith@Work to foster religious diversity and FACES, established in 1985 and otherwise known as the Filipino American Communications Employees. 


Banking and financial services company HSBC utilizes ERGs to facilitate open discussion of workplace issues and create a culture that celebrates diversity.

Examples include the Nurture group for caregivers and AHERG for those with African heritage.

Key takeaways

  • Employee resource groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led teams whose objective is to create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. While ERGs work to better represent those who may not be accounted for in company policies, they are by no means exclusive.
  • To create and sustain an ERG, there must be sufficient employee interest and support from the organization. Once these points have been satisfied, the group should develop a mission statement, recruit members, and host meetings to discuss objectives and plan events or activities.
  • Some well-known companies that provide support for multiple ERGs include HSBC, Hilton, and AT&T. In addition to racial minorities, there are also groups for military veterans, caregivers, and religious diversity.

Read Next: OKRSMART Goals.

Connected Business Frameworks and Concepts

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this type of leadership can lead to increases in work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness of the team.

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leadership is based on the premise that leadership responsibilities and accountability are shared by those with the relevant skills or expertise so that the shared responsibility and accountability of multiple individuals within a workplace, bulds up as a fluid and emergent property (not controlled or held by one individual). Distributed leadership is based on eight hallmarks, or principles: shared responsibility, shared power, synergy, leadership capacity, organizational learning, equitable and ethical climate, democratic and investigative culture, and macro-community engagement.


Micromanagement is about tightly controlling or observing employees’ work. Although in some cases, this management style might be understood, especially for small-scale projects, generally speaking, micromanagement has a negative connotation mainly because it shows a lack of trust and freedom in the workplace, which leads to adverse outcomes.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was developed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow. His hierarchy, often depicted in the shape of a pyramid, helped explain his research on basic human needs and desires. In marketing, the hierarchy (and its basis in psychology) can be used to market to specific groups of people based on their similarly specific needs, desires, and resultant actions.

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a tool that helps businesses prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance, named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, the matrix helps businesses and individuals differentiate between the urgent and important to prevent urgent things (seemingly useful in the short-term) cannibalize important things (critical for long-term success).

Moonshot Thinking

Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles, by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.

Lightning Decision Jam

The theory was developed by psychologist Edwin Locke who also has a background in motivation and leadership research. Locke’s goal-setting theory of motivation provides a framework for setting effective and motivating goals. Locke was able to demonstrate that goal setting was linked to performance.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg’s two-factor theory argues that certain workplace factors cause job satisfaction while others cause job dissatisfaction. The theory was developed by American psychologist and business management analyst Frederick Herzberg. Until his death in 2000, Herzberg was widely regarded as a pioneering thinker in motivational theory.

Lessons Learned

The term lessons learned refers to the various experiences project team members have while participating in a project. Lessons are shared in a review session which usually occurs once the project has been completed, with any improvements or best practices incorporated into subsequent projects. 

Growth Engineering

Growth engineering is a systematic, technical approach to the improvement of conversion and the user experience. Combined with business engineering it helps business people build valuable companies from scratch.

Retrospective Analysis

Retrospective analyses are held after a project to determine what worked well and what did not. They are also conducted at the end of an iteration in Agile project management. Agile practitioners call these meetings retrospectives or retros. They are an effective way to check the pulse of a project team, reflect on the work performed to date, and reach a consensus on how to tackle the next sprint cycle.


Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”

Cog’s Ladder

Cog’s ladder is a model of group development. The ladder was created in 1972 by Procter & Gamble employee George Charrier to help management at the company understand how teams worked to make them more efficient. Cog’s ladder is a model of group formation and behavior that is used to help businesses understand how a team can work to achieve its goals.

GRPI Model

The GRPI model was created by American organizational theorist Richard Beckhard in 1972. Although the model is almost 50 years old, its simplicity and effectiveness mean it is still in use today. The GRPI model is a tool used by leaders to diagnose the cause of team dysfunction and increase productivity, quality, and efficiency through four key dimensions that cause conflict: goals, roles, processes, and interactions. 

High-Performance Coaching

High-performance coaches work with individuals in personal and professional contexts to enable them to reach their full potential. While these sorts of coaches are commonly associated with sports, it should be noted that the act of coaching is a specific type of behavior that is also useful in business and leadership

OSKAR Coaching

The OSKAR coaching model was developed in the early 2000s by organizational theorists and authors Paul Z. Jackson and Mark McKergow.  The OSKAR coaching model is a solution-driven method used for managerial coaching in the workplace. In their book titled The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change Simple, the pair layout a framework to help coaches implement training sessions that are focused on solutions and not on problems.

Training of Trainers

The training of trainers model seeks to engage master instructors in coaching new, less experienced instructors with a particular topic or skill. The training of trainers (ToT) model is a framework used by master instructors to train new instructors, enabling them to subsequently train other people in their organization.

GROW Model

Though no single individual can claim to have created the GROW model, writers Graham Alexander and Alan Fine together with racing car champion John Whitmore played a significant part in developing the framework during the 80s and 90s. The GROW model is a simple way to set goals and solve problems during coaching sessions through four stages: goal, reality, options, and will (way forward).

Ulrich Model

The Ulrich model helps large or complex organizations with many business units organize their human resource function. The Ulrich model was named for management coach David Ulrich after the release of his 1996 book Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering Results.

Read Next: SWOT AnalysisPersonal SWOT AnalysisTOWS MatrixPESTEL AnalysisPorter’s Five ForcesTOWS MatrixSOAR Analysis.

Read Next: BiasesBounded RationalityMandela EffectDunning-Kruger EffectLindy EffectCrowding Out EffectBandwagon Effect.

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