Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
In order to continue to succeed companies are increasing their focus on improving diversity within their business and their approach to reach diverse communities and clients. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are one way that employers can create a more diverse and inclusive work environment. ERGs are voluntary groups that are led by employees and unite employees based upon common affinities, interests, demographics or backgrounds. ERGs can also go by a variety of different names such as a business resource group, employee network or team member network.
ERGs should be more than just a social network for employees. They are an opportunity for a diverse group of employees to be brought together and operate like a think-tank around ways to improve the workplace. When creating ERGs in your business you should be mindful about what these groups have the ability to accomplish for themselves and your business. Businesses need to make ERG participation a commitment from the employer as well, ERG participation has to be rewarding for employees in order for them to continue to be engaged and involved. Some examples of engagement models that could promote participation would be models that offer employees the opportunity to advance their leadership skills, gain organizational visibility, provide access to senior executives and make meaningful workplace changes based upon the efforts of ERGs.
There are several clear benefits to the organization of promoting and supporting ERGs. They connect people from across the organization and from the top down. ERGs unite people based upon common threads regardless of their department or role. Improved connections help increase workplace satisfaction and higher levels of engagement. These groups also create opportunities for employees to connect and meet one another in a way that they may not be otherwise able to during a work day. It allows employees to share about their common experiences and build relationships.
ERGs can also help solve complicated problems and propose new solutions for an organization. Diversity groups within an organization can bring minority groups together and they can discuss their sense of workplace culture and belonging. ERGs can give employees a forum to discuss the challenges they’re facing in the workplace and brainstorm ways to improve inclusion. ERGs have the ability to change the organization for the better, and an ERG at Fidelity Investments was able to do just that by implementing a business case from an ERG that resulted in Fidelity creating its first Office of Accessibility. Fidelity Investments was able to use its access to associates in ERGs to be able to have access to new and innovative ideas.
If you create meaningful support for ERGs in your organization you will be able to realize the benefits of improving diversity within your organization across multiple dimensions. ERGs are a chance to empower your employees and create a resource for your organization as it continues to evolve.