Planning · April 08, 2021

4 Employee Resource Group Best Practices to Build a More Inclusive Company

The world is becoming more interconnected and is filled with a range of diverse perspectives and experiences. To better understand your customers and deliver improved service, harness your team's diverse perspectives.

Improved workplace representation has direct business impacts. According to the BCG Henderson Institute, diverse teams are more innovative and drive more revenue growth for their companies compared to competitors. And according to the Harvard Business Review, diverse leadership teams are also 35% more likely to achieve better financial performance than their industry peers.

An employee resource group, or ERG, is a voluntary, employee-led group that supports a company's diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, efforts. An ERG can help to create a more diverse workplace and a supportive environment for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ employees and other marginalized communities. Here are some employee resource group best practices to get started.


Following the path toward greater DEI

You can't simply create an ERG for its own sake and expect to reap its benefits. It's important to define your organization's inclusion goals and understand how developing this resource can help you achieve them. For example, your goals may include expanding your management team's diversity by 50% within the next three years or developing more inclusive recruitment strategies.

ERGs for women, Latinx, Black, LGBTQ+ employees or those with disabilities may provide valuable input to help you craft strategies to achieve these goals, such as partnering with community colleges and organizations to develop an internship program that will improve your recruiting pipeline. These groups may also offer ideas for training and development programs that can help you identify diverse, high-potential talent for future leadership roles. Some ERG members may even be candidates for these opportunities.

How to start an employee resource group

As you work to develop ERGs within your organization, consider the following employee resource group best practices:

1 Recruit volunteers

Identify high-potential and highly engaged employees who may be willing to volunteer to lead or participate in an ERG. These employees may already be involved in other initiatives within your company or have won recognition for their work. Managers can also identify employees who can positively contribute to an ERG.

To build buy-in with potential ERG members, express your company's commitment to DEI and let them know it's a core part of your strategic plan going forward. Discuss what joining an ERG will entail, such as monthly meetings, planning events and providing input for strategic company-wide initiatives throughout the year. Make sure your human resources team and other senior leaders are involved.

These conversations are important because they'll demonstrate that you've put thought into creating these groups and understand why ERGs are so critical for employee engagement and improving your organization's culture.

2 Set goals

Once you've recruited employees to develop these groups, work with them to establish goals and determine how you'll measure success.

These goals should align your company's broader goals with priorities that are important to ERG members. For example, you might establish metrics for diversity across employee retention, recruitment and promotions. ERG members also may have goals, such as incorporating diversity metrics into the performance review process for managers or establishing a company policy to interview at least one diverse candidate for a managerial role when these positions become available.

Along with these goals, the ERG should have its own internal goals, such as establishing a mentorship program for new employees or organizing events yearly within the company and in the community.

3 Launch and promote your ERGs

After the ERG has established its goals, promote these groups in your company newsletter, intranet portal, internal emails and by posting bulletins in your office.

Promoting these groups before they launch and throughout the year could help them recruit more members who can contribute diverse perspectives and ideas that impact your company in a positive way.

4 Check in and measure progress

Whether it's quarterly or biannually, meet with ERG members to evaluate how they are tracking toward their goals. Talk about what they've accomplished so far, any pain points and how the company can better support them, including allocating more resources for events and working with managers to free up more time each month for ERG activities.

This is a good time to review your company's progress toward broader diversity goals and to assess how you can retool your strategy, if necessary, to achieve those goals.

Building a more inclusive company culture

Diversity is key to building a business that can function in today's global marketplace. An ERG is just one of several ways your company can make meaningful progress toward DEI, foster improved creativity and collaboration in your workplace, and have a positive impact on the communities you serve. Connect with a trusted partner today to outline your ERG needs.

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