Your business is always looking for ways to build a productive and encouraging company culture. Developing shared values and purpose amongst coworkers can be accomplished in many different ways. One promising option is an Employee Resource Group (ERG) which this article will discuss in depth.
What Is an Employee Resource Group?
An ERG is typically a volunteer group led by employees who share a particular commonality. These commonalities could be anything from ethnicity to religious affiliation to a specific interest. Typically, these groups are a safe space for their members. They serve to promote member wellness and career growth.
Employee Resource Groups have been present in organizations for years but are not always fully supported by workplaces. In order for group members and companies to reap all the benefits of ERGs — there must be intentional company-wide support.
The Importance of Employee Resource Groups
Employee Resource Groups, properly executed, encourage inclusivity and promote diversity within the company. Many ERGs invite allies to join their groups or support in some way without infringing on the ERG “safe space” benefits. These groups provide a platform and a resource for employees that may otherwise be marginalized or silenced. Moreover, these groups can function as an in-house think tank that produces innovative insights.
A company can take novel ideas and plans from ERGs and implement them company-wide. For example, adding more gender-neutral language in company spaces or dedicating specific areas for pumping for those who recently gave birth.
Benefits of Employee Resource Groups
There are many potential benefits to an ERG. However, the opportunity they provide for growth cannot be overstated. When individual employees grow, the whole company grows. There are also many specific benefits that ERGs provide both to employees and the organization as a whole.
Employees in ERGs often experience many benefits, and the group can be credited with many in-office accomplishments, including:
- Culture: Improving work culture for marginalized groups
- Growth: Professional and personal growth and development
- Resources: Members from various departments provide support and resources
- Leadership: ERGs provide leadership opportunities for promising members
A business can take full advantage of its ERGs to identify gaps in business strategies and governance. There are also many specific ways organizations can benefit from ERGs, including:
- Insight: Specialized ERGs provide information on the company as a whole and growth opportunities
- Improvement: Members can discuss and innovate on company solutions and pain points
- Alignment: Groups forge relationships between business and diversity strategies
- Recruitment: Prospective employees view ERGs as evidence of a positive company environment
Types of ERGs
Businesses are filled with diverse employees who all contribute to a healthy, innovative environment. There exist a multitude of different types of ERGs, but the following are some of the most common types.
- People with disabilities
- Culture or ethnicity
- Gender identity minorities
- Sexual orientation minorities
- Age minorities
- Working parents and guardians
Employee Resource Group Guide on Implementation
All ERGs are sponsored by their organization. This means that every employee resource group has the company’s support, and communication is encouraged between leadership groups. An organization can go about establishing ERGs in several different ways, but there are some commonalities to consider.
- First, consider the size of your company. If you have a company of a few dozen employees, then you may want to consider forming a diversity council as there may not be enough individuals to form a true ERG.
- Second, develop standard practices. Perhaps a diverse leadership board can develop a standard set of policies for proposing a new ERG.
- Third, set aside resources. Your organization needs to support your ERGs directly. For smaller companies with less capital, this can be in the form of renting a dedicated room for meetings. For larger companies, this can be in the form of a monetary fund for ERG programs.
- Fourth, set ERG goals. This doesn’t mean that the company dictates the goals for each ERG but makes a standard that each ERG should set goals for itself. This could vary from a goal of creating a safe space to direct, actionable growth within the organization as a whole.
- Fifth, regular check-ins. Neither an ERG nor an organization will benefit from a lack of dialogue. Establish regular times for information sharing and communication between ERG leadership and the organization as a whole.
BestCompaniesAZ Supports ERGs and Diversity Inclusion
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