Why we decided to pivot and why it doesn't change our mission
At Joyn, our mission is to create a community where people can connect with others based on their shared experiences and identities. We believe that these communities are crucial for building a sense of belonging.
When we started Joyn, that mission was at the center of everything we did but we started with our focus primarily on mental health. In October of 2021, we launched our peer matching mobile application where we anonymously connect peers based on shared mental health experiences and identities and grew to ~150 members using the application.
While we deeply believe in the value of peer networks centered on mental health, as we partnered with employee resource groups, we found that their primary pain points came from creating a community in the first place. Whether that’s getting them off the ground, or having the time and resources to properly engage and grow them.
To have a thriving peer network, having a community of belonging is a prerequisite but what if companies continue to struggle with belonging?
With that question in mind, we looked at how we can adapt our mission to more broadly support employee-led communities at the workplace.
Employee-led communities, also known as employee resource groups (ERGs) or affinity groups, have become common practice. 90% of major corporations and 40% of all US companies have ERGs. The purpose of employee resource groups is to create a community based on shared identities, interests, and/or experiences. But those leading these communities struggle to do so effectively with less than 20% of employee resource group leaders feeling properly supported.
Kendra and I felt that pain point first-hand, we founded and led an employee resource group centered on mental health that grew to 300 employees but that growth didn’t come easy. Whether it was figuring out the general structure of our ERG, how we can find a speaker in our budget, how we can propose additional benefits to our benefits team, or figuring out how engaged our members are, everything was challenging and involved a lot of spreadsheets, google docs, lengthy discussions, and most of all, not enough time.
Similar to our experience, most ERGs are led voluntarily on top of people’s main roles at the company. A few companies such as LinkedIn and Justworks are ahead of the curve by compensating their ERG leaders, but that doesn’t necessarily buy them more time to do the day-to-day work. And while DEI Program Managers or Leaders have become more integral at companies, they’re often a team of 1 or 2 struggling to support ERGs on top of their core roles.
All in all, those leading ERGs need proper support to amplify their impact. It’s proven that ERGs have a significant positive impact on employees feeling valued, heard, and a sense of belonging. We also know that when employees experience a lack of these key drivers, it is one of the primary reasons why people leave their companies or are limited to succeed in their role. So with the $8B annually spent in the US on Diversity and Inclusion, why do underrepresented groups still leave and feel like they’re not supported? We believe the answer is in the culture that companies build, and we believe that ERGs are the most valuable asset companies have to build a culture of belonging.
Through Joyn, we hope to provide ERG Leaders with the right tools and resources to better succeed in their roles through two primary focus areas:
A free cross-company community of ERG leaders alongside crowd-sourced and vetted resources, events, speakers, and more
A paid program management platform that streamlines event management, budget management, and community analytics
Through these two focus areas, we hope to amplify the impact ERG leaders have and help them build the communities they desire to ultimately help businesses move the needle on belonging.
We’re looking forward to making our mission a reality throughout 2022 and closely partner with ERG and DEI Leaders to build the communities that companies, and employees, need.