July 18, 2016 BestCompaniesAZ

Supporting a Culture of Inclusion: Vanguard’s Crew Resource Groups

By Lee Vikre | @LeeVikre

Vanguard doesn’t have employees or associates – they have “crew members”. To build a confident, tightly-knit team, Vanguard has created Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) to support a culture of inclusion. CRGs allow crew members with common perspectives to come together and focus on trust, respect, and fairness. These groups help crew members across the organization form meaningful relationships through service, teamwork, and education.

Through CRGs, crew members can engage in thought-provoking learning experiences and connect to a robust professional network. Each initiative promotes an inclusive environment and offers crew a variety of ways to develop personally and professionally. 

We caught up with Cici Lew, the Arizona leader of Vanguard’s LEAP (Leadership and Engagement for Asian Professionals). Like many ERG enthusiasts, Lew participates in more than one group. In addition to LEAP, she also is a member of WILS (Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success) and VBPN (Vanguard Black Professionals Network). Her thoughts illustrate the advantages of ERGs for employees as well as provide insights for employers that seek to build diversity.

BCAZ: Why did you decide to get involved in LEAP?
CL: I wanted to connect with those like me and set an example through mentorship and programming to help them engage in our company culture and professional development. I’m always interested in learning and I find that our CRG programming produces the best content, speakers, and open discussions.

BCAZ: What types of activities does LEAP focus on?
CL: Professional development, networking, cultural awareness, and onboarding.

BCAZ: Does LEAP have executive sponsors? Do you interact with senior leadership as part of LEAP?
CL: Yes, they attend the majority of our events, including networking events on a Saturday at dim sum across town. Our CFO travelled to Arizona last year to attend our all day dragon boat race at Tempe Town Lake. He cheered on our two boats, hung out with our teams and families all day, and celebrated with us for dinner afterwards.

BCAZ: What potential impact does CRG leadership have on careers?
CL: As the AZ LEAP leader, I’ve had many opportunities to connect and work with senior leaders in the Pennsylvania headquarters that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. The CRGs also create a network for when you’re exploring the next step in your career, to overviews, as well as advocacy. My leader was a strong advocate on my behalf when I recently applied for my current role.

BCAZ: Is there a formal or specific mentoring process within your CRGs?
CL: We have a buddy program where any new LEAP member can get paired with a more tenured LEAP mentor or leader.

BCAZ: What sorts of experiences have you had by being part of the CRG?
CL: I’ve never felt as connected to a work group as I have during dragon boat. The engagement, team camaraderie, enthusiasm, and all working towards one goal is unmatchable.

BCAZ: Why have you enjoyed working for your company?
CL: Vanguard gives me an opportunity to do what I love! I mentor crew by sharing my experiences, fill needs by coordinating professional development programming, and connect crew to grow both their personal lives and professionally.

BCAZ: Why do you recommend your company as a good place for diverse candidates to apply?
CL: Vanguard values inclusion and continually works toward making sure I can bring my whole self to work.

Award-winning companies like Vanguard understand the value of supporting diversity. Learn more about their Scottsdale office and current career opportunities.

About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.