A focus on diversity and inclusion are major indicators of a healthy, successful work environment. One key to a more inclusive workplace is allowing your team members to come together as their authentic selves. A great way to do this is by encouraging your people to take part in various Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
Nearly 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs. But keep in mind, the impact of ERGs goes far beyond business objectives like employee retention and increased productivity. These kinds of robust, meaningful DEI initiatives open up space for peer-to-peer mentorship, unique partnerships, and give new employees a great way to get comfortable during the onboarding process.
So–what is an ERG? ERGs, also known as affinity groups, are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. These groups give employees who share a common interest or relate to one another on any level of identity (sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, etc) the space for a shared experience.
It's especially important to facilitate this kind of interpersonal interaction on a workplace level. ERGs give employees a voice, increase team-wide cultural competence, boost employee engagement, and enrich individual perspectives.
By providing platforms for your team members to come together, you are making it clear that your organization is committed to DEI and the overall well-being of your employees.
"Organizations need to challenge our collective thinking on ERGs. ERG's are not clubs, extra curricular work or hobbies. Fighting the status quo is a choice, a hard choice to make. History makes pushing for change an even harder choice; when groups have fought for their rights, violence and punishment has often followed.
Providing ERGs prevents feelings of isolation and offers chances to take action by empowering groups to use their voice. It says that we as a company are open to learning and doing something about the lack of equity in society that leaks into the workplace. As a member of an ERG you’re less likely to be singled out and “punished” (not promoted, corrective action, being fired) for speaking up. ERGs are strategic cultural advocates, retention tools, and resources that help educate companies." - Cherie Caldwell, Head of DEI (Salesloft)
Focused on employee well-being? Take time to highlight your team's accomplishments with employee spotlights!
Now that you know the basics, let’s talk about starting your new ERG! Read on for 5 of our favorite examples and how to start your ERG toolkit.
1. Sankofa at Shipt
Shipt’s very first ERG, Sankofa, is dedicated to creating space for cultural exploration and empowerment.
This group’s mission for ERG members is to “connect and empower employees of African descent through cultural exploration and community building.”
Sankofa’s purpose is to create a safe space for Black team members and allies while serving as a space for shared learning and advocacy through various erg activities.
2. Women at Microsoft
At Microsoft, women-identifying team members come together to share their experiences as employees and leaders in the tech space. Across its various chapters, ERG members not only use this as a networking space but also work with outside organizations to provide mentoring, community outreach, and other professional development opportunities.
Women@Microsoft defines its mission as “working to break the gender gap in technology and empower women to bring their whole selves to work.”
3. PRISM at Synovus
PRISM is Synovus’ LGBTQ+ employee resource group.
At Synovus, team members aren’t required to personally identify with the group they are interested in joining. The goal of PRISM and Synovus’ various ERGs is to create a safe space for sharing information, driving engagement, and empowering employees to develop and share diverse perspectives
4. Salesloft's Employee Resource Groups
At Salesloft, Head of DEI, Cherie Caldwell is committed to the organization’s various ERGs. As part of her DEI strategy, Caldwell acts as executive sponsor of ERGs focused on advancing and advocating for initiatives across Black, LGBTQ+, and female team members at Salesloft.
5. EnableIn at LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a fantastic example of ERGs done right! With over 10 ERGs currently in place, LinkedIn has provided its employees with a clear commitment to fostering a safe and comfortable work environment.
EnableIn is LinkedIn’s group for team members with disabilities dedicated to “generating awareness, driving inclusive engagement, supporting accessible platforms, and championing economic opportunity for people with disabilities and invisible illnesses.”
Inspired by these organizations but not sure where to start? That’s okay!
As with any initiative, ERGs become more refined with time. Before you get started, consider how proposed ERGs align with your organization's mission and ensure that you have buy-in from leadership.
Most importantly, remain committed to your ERGs. Once you get started, you’ll likely find more and more team members interested in getting involved. Keep track of important dates, check in with ERG leaders, and maintain a calendar of upcoming events. Remaining unwavering in your support and facilitation of ERGs is key to their success!
Use Cooleaf's DEI calendar to help keep track of ERG activities year-round!
Your employee resource groups will provide space to practice the imperfect and become comfortable with newness. As you get started, you’ll learn how to achieve sustainability through best practices. The important part is remaining true to your mission statement, creating space for your team members, and listening to their feedback along the way.
Want to learn more about how Cooleaf partners like Shipt and Synovus use our platform to power employee engagement? Talk to us!