ERGs or Employee Resource Groups are voluntary groups created and led by employees at the workplace. Successful ERGs contribute to your organization’s employee retention measures, innovation, and diverse talent pool. To promote and sustain ERGs in the workplace, leaders and ERG heads need to align ERG goals with the organization’s greater DEI goals and employee expectations. Clear communication, organizational support, and good reporting are some of the factors that contribute to the growth of an ERG. In this blog, we will discuss 8 ERG best practices that can help make your ERG the backbone of your organization’s DEI efforts.
1. Align strategically with DEI and business objectives
Employee Resource Groups work closely with the organization’s Diversity and Inclusion teams, which often have stronger leadership support than individual ERGs. As a best practice, ERG groups should align their goals strategically with the company’s DEI efforts.
Additionally, ERG performance contributes to other levels of the organization including recruiting, leadership development, employee wellness and retention, attracting a diverse talent pool, etc. To ensure meeting these goals, ERG planning should strategically align with other departments including HR, event planning, people ops, etc. Alignment with DEI goals and greater business objectives ensures greater leadership support and fund allocation for ERGs.
2. Avoid disconnect between expectations and reality for ERG members
One of the primary challenges of sustaining an ERG includes generating and maintaining employee interest and awareness in the ERG and its activities. Often members join an ERG with the expectation to make strides in every aspect of their work life, however, ERG resources are limited, and failing to meet expectations can lead to the disenchantment of members.
To avoid the disconnect between expectations and reality, ERG leaders need to be clear about the ERG goals in the charter, ensure clear and frequent communication about ERG activities, and collaborate with other ERGs in the organization to empower members in areas they can. A strong and robust ERG can then expand its goals and contribute to greater community building for its members.
As a best practice, ERGs should establish guidelines that cover the structure, operation, and leadership of ERGs at the organization. These guidelines lay down the procedures for establishing new chapters of the ERG, management of ERG funds, leadership election/selection, membership procedures, meetings, etc.
3. Ensuring equal access to funds and leadership support
Owing to multiple factors including the organization’s DEI strategy, strong connection with leaders, and the internal functioning of the ERGs, certain ERGs in an organization may end up receiving disproportionate organizational support over others.
To avoid unequal distribution of funds between ERGs, ERG heads should rally for a centrally aligned ERG fund that is then allocated equitably between ERGs. By fostering connections with the leadership and other ERG leaders, ERGs can gain access to equitable funding, resources, and opportunities for collaboration.
4. Support ERG leaders by garnering organizational support
ERG leaders are often employees who take up uncompensated ERG work over their regular work responsibilities. This can be overwhelmingly burdening if ERG heads don’t receive leadership support, and collaboration and resource sharing from other ERGs.
As a best practice, company leadership should:
- Recognize and reward ERG leadership.
- Where possible, make ERG leaders eligible for additional compensation based on performance reviews of their work as ERG leaders.
- Provide incentives like access to company leaders, networking opportunities, and professional development options.
- Ensure senior leaders are aligned on the importance of ERGs as enablers of employee retention and experience.
5. Provide professional development
As a resource group for employees, one of the primary goals of an ERG is to provide career support to its members. Therefore, professional development opportunities become an integral part of the ERG charter and event planning. There are many ways to provide this support including
- Organizing and participating in conferences relevant to the industry
- Inviting coaches and guest speakers
- Providing professional courses to help with upskilling
- Providing access to subscription-based publications relevant to the industry
- Facilitating networking and connections in the industry
- Encouraging discussions, webinars, and educational panels
While these events act as great examples of professional development opportunities, education can be encouraged by even simpler means like encouraging members to discuss and mentor others in their areas of professional expertise. A good practice for where to begin includes asking ERG members what areas they’re most interested in and allocating learning resources accordingly.
6. Tracking and reporting
Successful ERGs have clear and strategically aligned goals. It is important to track and report these goals to members, leadership, and the organization at large. Reporting helps with encouraging transparency along with keeping track of how well the ERG is moving towards achieving its goals. Reporting can help ERG heads find out which events and strategies work well for their members and where to realign expectations or practices. Further, reporting is fundamental for securing leadership support, organizational collaboration, and optimism among members.
ERG heads need to focus on key metrics for ERGs to keep track of. These metrics can include ERG performance metrics like:
- Membership count
- Participation in events and activities
- Experience and sentiment scores of members
- The intersection of demographics within ERGs;
as well as larger organizational metrics like:
- Number of promotions granted to marginalized groups
- Job satisfaction among members
- Number of allies in the organization
7. Encourage collaboration with other ERGs in the organization
Since specific ERG goals and strategies overlap heavily with other ERGs and DEI goals of the organization, it is important to ensure that multiple ERGs do not end up spending individual resources on the same membership management lists, event planning, and communication. As a best practice, ERGs of an organization should strive to build a culture that fosters allyship and cross-ERG collaboration.
By recognizing and fostering allyship outside the community, ERGs can organize intersectional events to foster learning and sensitivity, and share resources, opportunities, and best practices to create a positive culture.
8. Plan for consistent engagement
One of the biggest challenges faced by ERGs is that they struggle to maintain their ERG's momentum. This can be avoided by ensuring periodic engagement for members. However, monthly or even weekly engagements are not always possible for all ERGs. Hence, ERG leaders should plan a sustainable and well-populated event calendar.
The Good Tip💡
A good practice for consistent ERG engagement is to pair bigger events such as webinars, conferences, and volunteering events with smaller events like talks, discussions, educational video/movie screenings, etc.
For more ideas, read our blog post Top 9 Activities and Event Ideas for Employee Resource Groups.
That’s a wrap on our recommended best practices for ERGs. When encouraged and managed well, ERGs can be great contributors to all aspects of your organization. Find additional Goodera ERG resources here.