An employee resource group (ERG) aims to provide a safe, supportive space for those who share certain characteristics (e.g., LGBTQ+, Asian American, single parents) and their allies - which strengthens diversity & inclusion at a company, and benefits overall business goals. They’re getting more and more popular at companies across industries and have become valuable tools for employee development, engagement, retention, and recruitment.
When creating or maintaining an ERG, Human Rights Campaign says that “it is important to consider the support you will need, possible negative reactions, and the goals of the group.”
Whether you’re trying to start an ERG for women, veterans, or Latinx employees, here’s a game plan for getting it off the ground.
1.Talk to your HR and Diversity & Inclusion Departments
Make sure to research the policies that you’ll have to adhere to when creating an ERG. Your human resources and/or diversity & inclusion departments should be able to guide you. Are there policies in place for forming an ERG specifically or an organization like it? If not, ask if you can work with them to create some.
2. Put together a leadership team
ERGs, like any organization, will function best with a team divvying up responsibilities and working together to create strategies and reach collective goals. Find others who are passionate about being part of this ERG (including allies who aren’t technically members of the group being supported).
Positions you should focus on filling include founding/executive team and subcommittee (e.g., events, marketing, budget, policy advocacy) roles. And create clear job descriptions, so the officers will have more clarity on how to best fulfill their duties.
3. Lean on other ERGs leaders
If there are existing ERGs, you should definitely avoid recreating the wheel, by seeking advice on best practices from those who’ve gone before you. Most likely, their leaders will be more than happy to share about their journey from idea to reality.
4. Clarify your mission and goals
In order to maximize your group’s success, you’ll need to have a starting roadmap, as well as defined goals and ways to measure progress. The best way to do this is to work with your leadership team to create a mission statement and determine short- and long-term goals.
Examples for a women’s ERG:
To help women succeed, thrive, and have a strong community at ABC Company.
● Start discussions with company leaders on reviewing internal gender-related disparities regarding pay and promotions
● Set up quarterly recruitment events focused on attracting more women applicants
● Create mentorship program for women at the company
● Help company increase number of women employees by X%
● Help company achieve equal pay for all genders
● Convince company to improve maternity and paternity leave and benefit policies
5. Clarify membership rules and target audience
It’s crucial that membership policies abide by legal and company rules preventing discrimination. For instance, membership should be open to all employees, regardless of background.
Make sure you’re targeting potential members inclusively when thinking of who belongs in a certain category. For example, if starting an ERG for single parents, you should remember to include foster parents, legal guardians, and caretakers, as well as allies.
6. Find an executive sponsor
Your executive sponsor will act as your group’s main liaison to the company’s decision makers. It’s important to find someone who’s committed to being a champion for your causes and preferably has a passion for them.
7. Look into potential inter-group collaboration
Research what other employee groups exist at your company. These could prove to be great partners for your ERG for various initiatives and long-term goals.
8. Dealing with pushback
In some cases, employees might not be supportive of ERGs, which focus on one particular population. In this case, the best way to make your case for your ERG is by sharing data that educates them on why a particular group needs special support and how your ERG would also benefit other employees and the company as a whole.
9. Create a good recruitment strategy
You want to make sure to use the right channels and tactics to draw in the right people. Here are some ways to get the word out in effective ways.
● Talk to your internal communications dept about how they could possibly help advertise your ERG
● Create a buzz by letting people know through word of mouth, and ask them to spread the word
● Post fliers in common areas, if that’s allowed.
● Post on internal message boards
● Ask other ERGs or employee groups to advertise among their members
10. Start off on the right foot
A great way to draw people in to your new organization is to throw a kick-off event. Maybe you can get your executive sponsor and some other company leaders from your organization to say a few words at an inaugural ERG party - where you can plan some fun activities and offer refreshments.
Please share this post with your networks using hashtag #nextplaymentoring. You can email me at Charu@nextplay.ai if any of this resonated with you - and especially if you have a mentorship success story to share!