How to Start an ERG at Your Workplace
In a highly globalized workforce, employee resource groups (ERGs) are one of the most effective ways to foster community, belonging, and professional growth among employees from diverse backgrounds. They also offer numerous benefits to organizations, including increased employee engagement, better retention rates, and the ability to tap into the unique perspectives and experiences of their members. The beginning of an ERG involves recognizing issues faced by the affinity group both in and out of the workplace.
While establishing an ERG, it is important to keep ERG Best practices in mind. Here are 6 steps to start an ERG at your workplace:
Step 1: Survey your existing employees
Before starting an ERG at the organization, it is essential to have an understanding of the problems that employees from your affinity group face at your organization. Study company policies that affect these groups, and look at recruitment, retention, and performance numbers. This is also a good time to talk to employees from the affinity group at the workplace to get a deeper understanding of their professional experience at the organization.
Once you have a clear idea about the employee challenges in the workforce, it’s time to make a case for an Employee Resource Group and generate interest within the organization.
Send out resources that address the need for an ERG, conduct a short survey to gauge interest, or simply ask for a show of hands in company meetings. Use the survey to get data about employee experience. This can later be used to make a case for the leaders and sponsors.
Step 2: Setup goals and mission
Before you can take your proposal to the leadership, you need to define a Mission statement, objective goals, and a charter for your ERG. The mission statement is a short (4-5 lines) paragraph that states the need and purpose of the ERG. It can be followed by more elaborate and quantifiable goals, and a charter to launch the ERG.
Step 3: Seek executive sponsorship
When you have set up your goals and mission statement, it is time to secure buy-in to ensure that you have the funds to organize impactful ERG activities and events. When you arrange a meeting with the executive leadership, you need to be prepared to make a strong case for your ERG. Your presentation should include:
- The purpose of your ERG with goals, objectives, and mission statements
- Quantitative and Qualitative data based on your employee experience survey
- External research and data to support the need for gender equity in the workplace
- Inputs about employee interest in the resource group
- Identified executive sponsor(s) along with other organizational support that the ERG will require for smooth functioning
- A proposed plan for the functioning of the ERG and upcoming events and activities
- A proposed budget based on the data above
Read next: How to Fund Your ERGs.
Step 4: Recruit members and elect leaders
When you start recruiting members for the ERG, your ERG needs to take a call on allies. Some ERGs allow allies to join the group, and others do not. Different stakeholders might have diverse viewpoints, and once an agreement has been reached, earnest recruiting for the ERG can begin.
Begin by spreading the word about your resource group through in-org newsletters or all-hands meetings. An inauguration event to kick-start the group can also generate interest in the activities of your ERG. If there are people in the organization whom you know to be interested in the ERG then reach out to them specifically. Using word-of-mouth marketing to spread your invitation is also a common way to recruit members.
Once members have been recruited, it is advised that the group nominates or elects a leadership committee, with the size of the council depending on the size of the ERG. The first meeting can also be used for this purpose. A good head-committee rule is to make their terms limited with re-election or nominations scheduled at recurring intervals. Not only does this ensure accountability and urge actions from the ERG leaders, but it also ensures that new perspectives and ideas are constantly introduced in the leadership.
Step 5: Set Agenda
To kickstart your ERG, you need to set an agenda for the quarter/year. Your agenda should include the activities and events you are planning to conduct, along with the impact you are hoping to create with them. A common problem that ERGs face is that they start with a bang and a rush of energy that fizzles out due to lack of direction, mismanaged event calendar, or loss of organizational support. To arm your ERG against these:
- Make sure that your charter is filled with goals and objectives that are achievable. Reassess these goals every once in a while to make sure that your activities are aligned with the goals, and that your goals are aligned with what employees from the affinity group at your workplace need.
- Plan your ERG’s activities well in advance. Organizing multiple big events like panels and conferences very frequently is not sustainable. Therefore, it is wiser to plan a bunch of smaller events like group discussions, volunteering events, video screenings, etc around bigger events to keep the calendar populated and your members engaged.
- Ensure that you are reporting and amplifying the ERG’s impact to the stakeholders and the rest of your organization. Transparency translates into continued faith and support in your ERG’s work.
Step 6: Organize your ERG’s first meeting
Once everything else is set, it’s time to organize the first meeting for your ERG. The purpose of this meeting should be to introduce members to each other, discuss the ERG Charter, and start planning events for the ERG.
An exciting way to onboard members to the ERG could be to organize a short volunteering event with a non-profit that works for the upliftment of the affinity group. Alternatively, you can use the first session to share basic resources including blogs, articles, educational videos, or other media to generate awareness for the issues you plan on tackling. Lastly, you could simply utilize the first meeting to familiarize the members with each other and have a fun chill session of discussions.
That’s a wrap on how to start an employee resource group at your workplace. To volunteer with your ERG, <rte-link_business-popup>talk to us<rte-link_business-popup>.
Find more insights about ERGs in our Complete Guide to Employee Resource Group.