How to Utilize Employee Resource Groups for a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace


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Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are growing in popularity in American businesses as companies look for ways to build, retain, and grow a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. ERGs and BRGs can be valuable tools in improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) hiring outcomes.

Based on my years of experience working with multiple ERGs and BRGs, I’ve compiled five ways companies can better engage these groups to achieve their DEI goals. I have included a relevant case study with each recommendation to further support my observations and provide a practical approach to understanding and implementing workable solutions.

Related Topics: How to leverage employee resource groups and make a meaningful impact in your workplace

1. Provide resources and support

An effective way to engage ERGs and BRGs is to provide them with the resources and support they need. This could include funding, training and access to business leaders and decision makers. By investing in these groups, companies can help them meet their goals while achieving better overall DEI hiring outcomes.

Case study: Intel

intel has approximately 40 ERGs and seven leadership councils, bringing together more than 25,000 employees in 2021. Intel’s ERGs are structured by race, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity, parenthood, disabilities, education, belief and other common affinities. The organization encourages employees to join ERGs beyond their personal interests to build relationships with a larger community. In addition, Intel has a Employee integration survey to gain a deeper understanding of how diverse employee groups experience integration at Intel, identify opportunities for improvement, and better understand the root causes of systemic problems and how to fix them. These initiatives demonstrate Intel’s commitment to providing resources and support to its employees.

2. Encourage collaboration

Another way to engage ERGs and BRGs is to encourage collaboration between these groups and other company stakeholders such as human resources, recruiters, hiring managers, and employee development programs. This can help ensure that DEI goals are integrated into all aspects of the organization’s operations and policies.

Case study: JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase’s Advance Black Paths The initiative is a collaborative effort to combat systemic racism and economically empower black Americans. The program leverages company resources and partnerships to provide education, career development and access to capital for Black individuals and business owners. Advancing Black Pathways works with other organizations to provide Black Americans with internships, jobs, mentoring programs, and entrepreneurship opportunities. JPMorgan Chase also provides financial education and counseling to help individuals and families become financially stable. The initiative encourages collaboration between JPMorgan Chase and its partner organizations to build a more just and inclusive society.

3. Encourage feedback

Organizations should encourage ERGs and BRGs to provide feedback on hiring processes and DEI initiatives. This feedback can help identify areas for improvement and guide future efforts.

Case Study: Salesforce

Salesforce has a well-established ERG program called starting point The aim is to create a supportive and inclusive work environment. An example of this program is Salesforce’s “family groups“focused on building connections, offering mentoring opportunities and promoting diversity and inclusion among employees and allies. These groups are open to all employees and have different focuses, such as gender, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation.

Salesforce’s ERGs play a critical role in the company’s efforts to encourage feedback and improve employee engagement. These groups provide a forum for employees to share their experiences and ideas, give and receive feedback, and participate in initiatives to promote DEI.

Related Topics: 7 Ways Executives Can Improve Their DEI Workplace Strategy

4. Engage employees and celebrate success

Organizations should invest in employee engagement and celebrate the achievements of ERGs and BRGs. This can include highlighting success stories, sharing best practices and providing opportunities for ERG and BRG members to highlight their work.

Case study: IBM

IBM’s BRGs are employee-led groups focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace while celebrating small and big wins. They are designed to create a sense of community among employees, provide opportunities for growth, and drive business outcomes by leveraging diverse perspectives and ideas. BRGs at IBM are open to all employees and members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities and initiatives, including public relations, career development programs and networking events. They have been recognized for their impact on employee engagement, success stories and business results, and the company continues to invest in their development.

5. Build communities

Extraordinary things happen when companies help ERGs build communities based on shared values ​​and interests of equity and inclusivity. These communities provide employees with a safe space to share their voices, experiences, and perspectives. By providing a platform for employees to come together and collaborate, ERGs and BRGs play a critical role in fostering a sense of belonging and strengthening organizational culture.

Case study: Microsoft

Microsoft’s ERGs Provide a platform for employees with common values ​​and interests to collaborate, build communities and drive business impact. They are open to all employees and span a wide range of affinities and intersections, including women, African American/Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, veterans, parents and more.

Microsoft’s ERGs focus on building and growing communities by providing members with opportunities for personal and professional development, community outreach, and connection with others throughout the organization. ERG members can participate in events, mentoring programs, and leadership opportunities that help them grow their skills and expand their networks. Through community outreach initiatives, ERG members can give back to their local communities and make a positive impact on society beyond their workplace.

ERGs at Microsoft have contributed significantly to corporate culture and business success. For example, Microsoft’s Black and African American ERG, Blacks at Microsoft (BAM), has played a critical role in increasing black employee representation within the company and promoting cultural awareness and education. Likewise, the company’s Women at Microsoft (WAM) ERG has been instrumental in driving diversity and inclusion efforts across the organization.

Related: 3 Proven Ways to Hire (and Keep) Diverse Talent.

In summary, ERGs and BRGs can play a critical role in improving DEI hiring outcomes and creating a more inclusive and equitable work environment. Businesses can better engage these groups by providing resources and support, encouraging collaboration, encouraging feedback, engaging employees, celebrating achievements, and building communities. The case studies highlighted in this post demonstrate practical approaches to using ERGs and BRGs to meet DEI hiring goals and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. By investing in these groups and their members, companies can build a more inclusive culture and achieve positive, sustainable and scalable business outcomes.

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