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Diversity and Inclusion

Unlock the Power of ERGs in Your Workplace

  • 28/02/2023
  • Frances Campbell
  • 4 mins read

So, you’ve heard the term, ERG, but do you know what it means? In the world of workplace acronyms, this one’s essential to get right.

ERG stands for Employee Resource Group. It’s important for any workplace, or employee, interested in creating an inclusive culture to be aware of ERGs and their benefits. 

We all know that fostering an inclusive culture has long-term positive impacts on employee engagement, retention and productivity. 

Employee resource groups go further and create communities for people to find support, discuss issues and advocate for themselves and others in a safe, proactive group. 

In this guide, we take you through what ERGs are, who can join and the benefits of setting them up. 

What is an Employee Resource Group or ERG? 

Put simply, ERGs bring people together for mutual support in the workplace. They are communities that an organisation will set up to better support employees. 

They can be formed based on shared characteristics such as race, gender, sexuality, religion or any other protected characteristic. 

“ERGs are not clubs, extracurricular work or hobbies. Fighting the status quo is a hard choice to make.” Cherie Caldwell, Head of DEI (Salesloft)

The group work together to share information, support each other and run events and activities. In larger organisations, multiple ERGs can exist across the business to support a wide range of people. 

What groups can create an ERG? 

As we said, there are many people that can form an employee resource group.

This could be based on a protected characteristic including:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Or other groups such as carers can form an ERG for mutual support in the workplace.

How do ERGs add value? 

ERGs create a sense of community for people who feel marginalised or underrepresented in the workplace. They also provide a way for employees to advocate for and promote diversity and inclusion at work. 

This adds value to an organisation by improving the employee experience of your people, offering channels of support and creating lasting change. This leads to better retention and offers an attractive benefit to new joiners.

What are the benefits of setting up Employee Resource Groups? 

The benefits of ERGs are wide-ranging. From developing leaders to a more inclusive culture, there are many reasons to start an ERG.

Just some of the benefits you can expect to see include:

  • Developing future leaders: Nurture and develop your future leaders by providing opportunities through resource groups. It’s a great way to spot new leaders and nurture talent. 
  • Fostering an inclusive culture: ERGs create communities where everyone can feel seen, heard and supported. By creating these groups you can actively foster an inclusive culture.
  • Creating safe spaces: Finding ways to support your people can be difficult. Creating safe spaces for employees to talk means they can share and resolve issues, leading to higher retention and employee happiness.
  • Raising awareness: ERGs are effective at providing educational opportunities in the workplace on key DE&I topics. They can be a vital tool for advocacy and educating your people across the business.
  • Creating pathways to make change: Bringing people together means that no one will be singled out for speaking up. If you want to create people-led change in your workplace, ERGs are a great way to do that.
  • Enhancing organisational reputation: By demonstrating your commitment to diversity and inclusion through ERGs, you can improve your external organisational reputation. Building better relationships with customers, suppliers and other external stakeholders that value DE&I has lasting benefits to your bottom line and more. 

Can allies join ERGs? 

The good news is, allies can join an ERG to support their colleagues and drive positive change in their organisation too. This goes a long way to creating a culture of support across the business. 

The important thing to remember is that as an ally your role is to listen and act where you can. As an ally, you should aim to listen more than you speak when participating in a group.

Are ERGs effective? 

Yes! 

According to a Deloitte survey, 79% of companies with ERGs saw an increase in employee engagement as a result. 

On top of this, ERGs have been shown to build trust and create more inclusive workplace cultures.

People thrive when they feel safe to bring their whole selves to work. Creating communities is a fantastic way to improve DE&I in your organisation. 

📖 Find out more key stats on Diversity and Inclusion in our guide 📖

How can I ensure I get the most out of my ERG? 

Three ways to improve the effectiveness of your ERG:

  1. Make the purpose clear

ERGs work when there is a clear focus to the group. This means that people can join confidently knowing whether the group is for them.

Maintain alignment and direction of your ERGs by setting out clearly what the purpose, goals and structure of your group will be. This includes aligning with wider DE&I strategies to avoid mis-matched priorities.

2. Get senior leadership buy-in 

This goes for any company wide initiative, from mentoring to employee resource groups. Getting support from senior leaders ensures visibility of the initiative and that ERG leaders receive the recognition they deserve.

3. Manage expectations 

ERGs can be incredibly effective at tackling a number of issues in the workplace. However, it’s important that those joining the group are getting the right information about what to expect.

If you’re starting a group to improve career progression for a community underrepresented in leadership, it’s important that this is clearly communicated and that it stays a top priority for the group. Otherwise, members may become disillusioned with the groups progress.

 

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re a DE&I lead or other people professional, setting up an employee resource group could be the key to unlocking potential in your people and creating an environment in which everyone can thrive. 

And, with Guider’s software, you can easily facilitate connections between your people – we do more than just mentoring! 

Want to connect your ERGs and spark relationships that get results? Speak to our team to find out more.