How to Start an Employee Resource Group (ERG)
Your employees are the heart of your organization. Their diverse personalities, backgrounds, and experiences help shape the spirit and culture of your organization. As an employer, you can help your employees celebrate what makes them unique by supporting employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs help employees come together to spread awareness of the issues facing certain demographic groups, like black professionals, LGBTQ employees, remote workers, working parents, and more.
Does one of your employees want to start a new ERG at your organization? Share these employee resource group best practices with your organization so employees know how to set up a new group and hit the ground running:
1. Share Your ERG Idea With HR
Have an idea for a new ERG? Speak with a member of the HR team regarding how to start employee resource groups and the steps that follow. Your HR representative will go over the requirements for starting an ERG, discuss budget needs, request a draft of your group’s mission and goals, and more.
|Why Did You Decide to Start an Employee Resource Group?
“I decided to start Namely’s Hispanic Alliance for Career Employee Resources, or H.A.C.E.R, to give individuals a place to be themselves and feel a sense of belonging. The organization's goal is to connect Namely with the Latinx/Hispanic community, as well as to promote the cultural diversity and professional development of its members internally & externally.”
2. Define Your Group’s Mission & Goals
In addition to a group name, draft the mission and goals for your ERG. This will help guide the group’s initiatives and campaigns throughout the year. For example, the mission for a female or non-binary ERG might have the mission of: “combating unconscious gender bias and empowering people to move beyond traditional gender roles.”
|What Does Being Part of an ERG Mean to You?
“ERGs bring about the potential for community in the workplace. ERGs foster camaraderie between those who understand the complexity of managing your identity both in and out of the workplace while creating a space for thoughtful conversation on difficult topics. ERGs allow for inclusion in practice, not just lip service.”
3. Find an Executive Sponsor
Executive sponsors are a great way to ensure the success of your ERG. Executive sponsors can act as the voice of your group to the rest of the organization and the leadership team. They can be an important ally to have if your group tries to advocate for organizational change. For example, the executive sponsor for a working parents ERG could bring the group’s request for subsidized childcare to the executive team and help expedite the approval process.
4. Recruit Members
Once you’ve received approval from the HR team, it’s time to advertise your new group to the rest of the organization. Share the exciting news on Slack, your company newsfeed, on posters around the office, and at an all-hands meeting. Also, if your company keeps an updated list of all your company’s ERGs, their missions, and leaders be sure to have your group added to the list. That way new and existing employees can find your group and know who to contact about joining.
|How Should ERGs Recruit Members?
“I always encourage the leaders of Namely’s ERGs to market themselves in a way that is inviting to all types of people. We don’t want the women’s ERG to be only women. We want the groups to be made up of diverse members and allies. That way, those people help them become aware of the issues and understand someone else's experience.”
5. Schedule Meetings & Plan Events
Organize regular meetings so your members can come together, discuss relevant topics, plan events, and deliberate on any workplace initiatives the group is working on. Be sure to send out meeting notes so members who weren’t able to attend can still be involved and not miss out on volunteer opportunities. Also, consider creating a Slack or other messaging channel so your members can share interesting articles and hold discussions outside of your meetings. Utilizing these employee resource group best practices will encourage employees to come together and enhance the spirit and culture of your organization.
Employee resource groups are not just a great way to bring people together, they also create a great opportunity for employees to learn and develop skills beyond their job descriptions. According to one survey, over 80 percent of millennials say they value companies that prioritize personal growth. With learning and development opportunities so sought after, it’s important to leverage ERGs and other programs.
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