We’re fortunate to live in a time when there is more focus on workplace diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) than ever before. However, just talking about the impacts of DEI&B isn’t enough. That’s where Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) come in, to help take actionable steps towards more a more inclusive workplace.
What are Employee Resource Groups?
These are voluntary, employee-led groups in the workplace that aim to foster a diverse and inclusive environment. They’re often led and participated in by employees who share a certain characteristic or demographic like race, gender, or and allies may be invited to join the ERG as well. The goal of the group is to support personal and career development and provide a safe space within the workplace for these employees.
Note that different organizations have different names for ERGs. Some call them business resource groups or affinity groups. There are also terms like inclusion resource groups or network groups. Although the naming conventions might be different, the end goal of all these groups is the same: to foster inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.
What’s the benefit?
There are many great reasons to have an ERG in place at your organization. Employee Resource Groups can:
- Provide a safe place for employees. ERGs help workers who share a common experience feel connected. Everyone can be comfortable and open to sharing their experiences regarding work and improvements they would like to see.
- Improve work conditions. Practical benefits that might result from an ERG include building gender-neutral restrooms or making disability accommodations more accessible. These, among others, allow employees to feel less stressed trying to discover these resources on their own.
- Identify potential leaders. ERG members can identify emerging talent that could otherwise go overlooked thanks to unconscious bias.
- Make workplace issues transparent. ERG members who might otherwise feel uncomfortable sharing grievances or frustrations will feel free to do so, allowing issues to be tackled collaboratively
- Benefit your company’s reputation. Improving your DEI&B efforts through an ERG makes your organization more attractive and appealing to candidates seeking workplace diversity.
How does an ERG get started?
If your organization doesn’t already have an ERG, anyone can start one. Management should encourage their creation so that anyone can step up to lead an ERG they are passionate about. The supervisory team should fully support and fund an ERG, and then invite employees to participate either as a member or an ally. Continued support and celebrating successes can also help drive momentum to bring amazing benefits to your company.
Ready to Jumpstart Your DEI&B Efforts With Great Talent?
Diversity starts with the people on your team, but does not end there. It takes continued work to ensure that your employees are feeling not only heard, but taken seriously. If you’re looking to fuel your diversity efforts, check out our free e-book on DEI&B in the workplace.