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:
- Hilton – 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.
- AT&T – 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.
- HSBC – 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.
- 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.
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