In recent years, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have gained significant attention as effective tool for promoting diversity, inclusion, and employee engagement in the workplace.
ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that unite individuals with common interests, identities, or backgrounds. These groups have become an essential part of modern workplace culture, providing a supportive environment for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for their needs.
In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of employee resource groups, how to start an ERG, and tips for making your ERG successful.
What do Employee Resource groups do?
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) first emerged in the 1960s and 70s as a way for minority employees to connect and support each other in the workplace.
Initially, ERGs focused on providing a safe space for employees to share their experiences and advocate for their rights. Over time, ERGs expanded to include a wider range of employee interests and identities, such as gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities.
Today, ERGs are a common feature of many workplaces, and are recognized as a valuable tool for promoting diversity, inclusion, and employee engagement.
Some of the key functions and activities of ERGs may include:
Providing a supportive community for members
ERGs provide a space for employees to connect with others who share similar backgrounds or experiences, and offer a supportive community for members.
Advocating for the needs of members
ERGs may advocate for the needs of members within the organization, such as promoting inclusive policies or addressing workplace issues.
Promoting diversity and inclusion
ERGs play a key role in promoting diversity and inclusion within the organization, by providing education and awareness around issues of diversity and advocating for more inclusive practices.
ERGs may provide professional development opportunities for members, such as mentoring or training programs, to help support career growth and advancement.
Three reasons you should invest in Employee Resource Groups
Here are some reasons why you should invest in Employee Resource Groups, backed by research:
Employees who feel included in ERGs are 35% more likely to report feeling proud to work for their company, and 39% more likely to report being loyal to their company (Deloitte, 2018).
ERG members report higher levels of career satisfaction, and 73% of companies say ERGs have positively impacted professional development and leadership opportunities (Forbes, 2020).
Increased Diversity and Inclusion
Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians (McKinsey & Company, 2015).
Examples of employee resource groups
In case you’re just getting started, here are some examples of common employee resource groups in Indian organizations:
Women's Leadership Network
This ERG is focused on promoting gender diversity, inclusivity, and professional development for women in the workplace. The group provides a supportive network and opportunities for mentorship and career advancement.
This ERG provides resources and support for employees who are parents, with a focus on balancing work and family responsibilities. The group provides a supportive community and networking opportunities for parents in the workplace.
Diversity & Inclusion Council
This ERG is focused on promoting diversity, inclusivity, and equity in the workplace, with a focus on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and disability. The group works to identify areas for improvement and to develop strategies for creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Skill Development Network
This ERG is focused on promoting skill development and career growth for employees, particularly those from underrepresented communities. The group provides training, mentorship, and networking opportunities for employees who are looking to advance their careers.
Employee resource groups in pop-culture
If you’re looking for some out-of-the-box inspiration, here are examples of employee resource groups in your favuourite TV shows.
Parks and Recreation
The show features the "Pawnee Goddesses," a girls-only youth organisation that encourages young girls to take on leadership roles and learn outdoor skills. The group was started by Leslie Knope and later became an official city program.
The show features the "Harper Avery Foundation," an organization that promotes diversity and inclusivity in medicine. The foundation provides grants to hospitals and medical programs that are committed to diversity and inclusivity initiatives.
In addition to the "Finer Things Club," the show also features the "Diversity Day" episode, where the employees attend a sensitivity training seminar after Michael Scott makes a series of inappropriate comments. While not an official ERG, the episode highlights the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Common reasons why Employee Resource Groups fail
The effectiveness and sustainability of ERGs may be influenced by several factors. Here are some common reasons why an ERG might be unsuccessful.
- Lack of Leadership Support: ERGs require strong leadership and senior executives' support to succeed. Leadership must be fully committed to the goals and objectives of the ERG to receive the necessary resources and support to be effective.
- Lack of Participation: ERGs require active participation and engagement from members to be successful. If members do not feel motivated to participate or feel excluded from the group, it may not achieve its objectives.
- Lack of Clear Objectives: ERGs must have clear objectives and goals to be effective. If objectives are not clearly defined or if there is a lack of alignment between the goals of the ERG and those of the organization, it may not achieve its desired outcomes.
Setting up Employee Resource Groups for Success
In order to build a successful Employee Resource Group, remember the following pointers:
- Clear Purpose: Employee resource groups should have a clearly defined purpose that aligns with the company's goals, values, and culture. The purpose should be communicated effectively to members and the wider organization.
- Leadership Support: ERGs should have visible support from senior leaders within the organization, who can provide guidance, resources, and advocacy for the group.
- Voluntary Participation: ERGs should be open to all employees who share the group's interest, identity, or background, and participation should be voluntary.
- Regular Meetings and Events: ERGs should hold regular meetings and events to facilitate networking, learning, and community building among members.
- Budget and Resources: ERGs should be provided with adequate budget and resources to support their activities and initiatives.
- Measurable Goals and Metrics: ERGs should have measurable goals and metrics aligned with the group's purpose and the company's overall diversity and inclusion strategy.
- Accountability and Evaluation: ERGs should be held accountable for achieving their goals and evaluated regularly to measure their impact and effectiveness.
- Open Communication: ERGs should have open communication with the wider organisation, and provide regular updates on their activities and initiatives.
Success metrics for Employee Resource Groups
Here are some metrics and parameters that can help you understand how successful your employee resource group has been.
Member engagement and participation
Measuring the level of engagement and participation of ERG members can provide insight into the success and effectiveness of the group. This can include metrics such as attendance at events or meetings, level of involvement in group initiatives or projects, and feedback from members on their experiences.
Employee retention and satisfaction
ERGs can positively impact employee retention and satisfaction, as employees who feel supported and included are more likely to stay with the organization. Measuring employee retention rates and conducting employee satisfaction surveys can help determine the impact of ERGs on employee retention and satisfaction.
ERGs can have a direct impact on the business, by promoting diversity and inclusion, improving employee engagement and satisfaction, and contributing to the development of talent and leadership. Measuring the business impact of ERGs can include metrics such as financial performance, employee productivity and performance, and customer satisfaction.
Representation and diversity
ERGs can also help promote representation and diversity within the organization, by increasing the number of employees from underrepresented groups and ensuring that their needs are being met. Measuring diversity metrics such as representation of different groups within the organization and diversity of leadership can help determine the impact of ERGs on representation and diversity.
ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that unite individuals with common interests, identities, or backgrounds. ERGs provide a supportive environment for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for their needs.
In this blog post, we explored the benefits of employee resource groups, how to start an ERG, and tips for making your ERG successful. Additionally, we provided examples of common employee resource groups in Indian organisations and in pop culture, as well as common reasons why an ERG might be unsuccessful.
Finally, we discussed success metrics for employee resource groups, including member engagement and participation, employee retention and satisfaction, business impact, and representation and diversity.
By following best practices and tracking success metrics, organizations can ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of their employee resource groups.