Updated: Mar 11
Now that we’ve covered how to think about the structure and budget of ERGs, we want to go more deeply into what an organization can do to enable their impact. While the bottom-up approach to building belonging is absolutely critical, support from leadership is crucial to ensure ERGs, and their respective communities, are being heard and can drive the change that’s needed.
Below, we’re outlining a few considerations to keep in mind as you’re spinning up or expanding your ERG programming and what role your organization plays in setting them up for success.
ERGs thrive because of their ability to advocate on behalf of their communities and they’re in a unique position to do so. Providing access to senior and executive leadership is key to opening the door for them to drive the change they want to see. Companies that have effective ERGs often create forums where ERGs can directly connect with the CEO and other executive leaders to share sentiment, pain points, and opportunities. They’ve also engaged ERG leaders in critical discussions that affect their communities and provided avenues that allowed ERGs to make proposals tied to policies, benefits, accessibility, and best practices. Finding ways where ERGs have direct access to leadership ensures that their voices are heard and enables companies to make critical improvements to how they operate.
Time and time again, we’ve heard ERG leaders speak about how one of the most important aspects has been that senior and executive leadership amplified their voice whether that is in All Hand’s, or other large company meetings. Leaders that provide visibility into critical topics affecting the community, or programming they run, help amplify the impact of their message and often increase engagement across the organization.
At our prior company, we asked our leadership team to share their experiences with mental health tools such as therapy, mindfulness, and coaching and saw a significant spike in the adoption of our existing benefits as a result. Leaders help normalize the conversation and reiterate its importance amplifying the change driven bottom-up from the top-down. We believe that leaders need to be active participants in ERGs while holding themselves accountable to grow their understanding and advocacy of those communities.
The overhead of managing and running an ERG remains high, even in the most mature organizations. Most ERGs manage their programming in spreadsheets, google docs, and use google search to find relevant events and speakers. We recommend spending time with your ERG leaders to learn more about where their biggest friction points are. Is it getting engagement from their board? Engagement from their members? Finding a speaker that’s within budget? Keeping track of their spending and remaining budget? Asking questions is key.
Once you understand their pain points, we recommend seeking out avenues to reduce the admin overhead whether that’s by automating a process, moving a process off ERG leadership to another function, or implementing tools, such as Joyn, to help manage their programs.
These are a few elements that we’ve heard repeatedly across ERG and DEIB Leadership and, while structural gaps remain at most companies, we all recognize that ERG programming requires iteration and learning over time. Keeping a constant pulse on your ERGs and whether or not they feel supported is critical to make sure your ERG programming is set up to have the impact it is capable of.
If you’d like to dive deeper on any of these topics with us or companies we work with or see a demo of our platform, you can contact us here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In upcoming blog posts, we’ll share recommendations on programming, assessing the impact of ERGs, best practices, and more. If you have content recommendations or burning questions, definitely reach out to us!
Find relevant articles:
5 ways to elevate your employee resource groups as company culture champions by Mary Beth Ferrante
The importance of employee resource groups for your workplace by Sheba Lasley
What black employee resource groups need right now by Aiko Bethea
How to build an ERG program by Jacob Little
5 top tips on creating successful employee resource groups by Sheree Atcheson