Employees at Desert Financial are bringing new employee resource groups (ERGs) with meaningful missions to the company in order to develop cultural bonds, safeguard mental health, and stoke professional development. Each ERG was voted on by employees in order to find themes that accurately represent their desires to grow and learn. We spoke with the appointed leaders of the three new ERGs, also selected by employee votes, to learn about how this new program benefits all employees.
What is an ERG?
According to Great Place to Work, employee resource groups are “voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve.” ERGs are led by members of a company who care about the initiatives of the group. ERGs are often centered around cultural characteristics, but they can be formed around gender, topics or employee interests.
Desert Financial’s new ERGs allow time for co-workers to collaborate cross-functionally where they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do so. The program allows workers at all levels to connect around a centralized topic through in-person events or virtual meetings. The entire process is driven, led, and supported by employees who are passionate about connecting with others. Employees across the state have joined the three newly formed ERGs at Desert Financial that are the Mental Wellness Advocates ERG, the Professional Development ERG, and Multicultural ERG. Each ERG has an executive sponsor that took the lead in getting the groups initially set up, helping them elect their leadership team and define their purpose, and will continue to serve as their advocate. Read on to meet each sponsor and learn about how each group at Desert Financial is staying true to its mission.
Mental Wellness Advocates ERG
Mission: To provide a safe and supportive space to focus on mental health and to provide resources and awareness for all employees.
Denise Sierra, Executive Sponsor of the Mental Wellness Advocates, shared that the new program serves a major purpose in providing a safe place for those interested in mental health and wellness to share resources and support each other. The new program will magnify the voices of employees across branches and throughout the company’s subsidiaries. This way, the concerns of individual workers are less likely to fall through the cracks.
ERGs drive connections in the workplace by bringing teams together to discuss important ideas and topics. Within the Mental Wellness Advocates, employees share tips for avoiding burnout and connect around open discussions relating to their personal experiences with stressors. One of the missions of this particular ERG is to provide compassion and support for people who feel like they are struggling with mental health. Another major purpose for the Mental Wellness Advocates is to eliminate the stigma around prioritizing mental health.
“Employees are going to find a safe space to share and be open amongst each other and know that they’re not the only ones struggling with mental health,” Sierra said.
Sierra also shared that this ERG is a safe space for communication and that in the future it will help create tools for every employee.
“I really would like to see the group be able to provide resources to employees whether they’re in the group or not in the group,” Sierra said.
Sierra wants to see the resources available to employees in the ERG extended to their family members and loved ones as well. She believes that even though mental health challenges may not affect all of us personally, it’s likely that someone in our circle of friends and family is impacted. Desert Financial continues to add benefits for employees and their families to grow personally and professionally.
Professional Development ERG
Mission: To support the professional growth of our employees while promoting a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and providing access to valuable learning opportunities.
Bernie Chavira, Executive Sponsor for the Professional Development ERG, says that each ERG makes sure that employees have their voices heard in a way that motivates the company to do better and act on new initiatives. A Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce comprised of leaders across the organization was initially formed to provide perspective on DEI initiatives that would enhance the companies’ culture and promote diversity and inclusion. This group developed an organization DEI plan and then surveyed employees to gauge ERG interest. The Taskforce also provided a guidebook for the Executive Sponsors to help the ERGs get established.
Chavira says, “Being that it’s built, run and set up by the employees themselves, the first benefit I think I see is the sense of empowerment.”
The group’s priority is to provide and suggest resources for professional development. At times, chances to interact with senior management or attend events at the corporate office can seem unattainable to employees who are not located near the headquarters. In-person events and virtual meetings within the ERG provide a solution where employees can express their needs and be equally heard. There are also opportunities for mentorship where two employees can develop a relationship that mutually benefits both parties. The group made it a priority to create value for the mentee and the mentor. The group has also applied to have a Toastmasters chapter at its corporate location.
Mission: To promote and highlight the knowledge and differing multicultural perspectives amongst the employees at Desert Financial Credit Union, Define Mortgage Solutions, SwitchThink Solutions, and Desert Financial Wealth Services.
Tina Miller, Executive Sponsor of the Multicultural ERG, says that her new group was manifested through multiple employees’ requests to get more involved in the community.
“There’s more opportunity for more community. One of the things that our company and our employees embrace is opportunities to be out there and represent ourselves within the community,” Miller says.
Miller also said that one of her group’s goals would be to ensure that the cultures at the company would receive recognition during specific cultural awareness months. By putting a spotlight on diverse cultures, members of this group expect to learn more about each other. Some employees stated that they wanted to become more educated through conversations because they felt like they had a lot more to understand about the cultures of their co-workers. Other employees wanted to share their unique experiences with race to inform co-workers that may not share the same personal narratives.
ERGs are just one aspect of the benefits employees enjoy while working at Desert Financial. Other benefits include incredible health benefits, 100% tuition covered at ASU, 12 paid holidays, parental leave, and more. All of this is combined under one award-winning culture. To learn more about working at Desert Financial and to find their current career openings click here.