With an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in our organizations, one tactic that has proven effective is the launch of Affinity or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These employee-led voluntary groups bring employees together in a safe place where everyone is comfortable sharing their experience. The groups usually organize based on a shared characteristic, whether it is gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity, lifestyle or even interest.
ERGs are important as we know that employees thrive when diversity is celebrated. Organizations should consider an ERG as part of their offerings, as a means to increase employee engagement, improve retention, develop future leaders, expand their workforce reach and help with their recruiting and onboarding process. Interestingly enough, ERGs are not a new concept. Black workers at Xerox organized back in the 1960s to discuss racial issues in the workplace. Almost six decades later, many are choosing to organize ERGs likely for the same reasons. Benefits to employees include the ability to drive culture change, gain exposure to leadership and connect to a wider base of employees.
So, how do you get started? Like anything else, you must start at the beginning with a plan. Depending on your organization, it may be best to start with the HR department and/or find an executive sponsor. It is then recommended that the ERG defines a mission and goals as well as leadership roles. Be sure to determine how you’ll track your impact and look for means to promote allyship and collaboration among and with other ERGs. Finally, be sure to align your ERG with the organization’s mission and goals.
Interested in getting an ERG started and want to brainstorm ideas? Contact AOE today!