Employee Resource Groups – Benefits and How To Support Them
In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on employee resource groups, how they can benefit your organisation and what you can do to help them thrive.
Employee resource groups advocate for underrepresented demographics in a typical workforce.
With time, supporting ERGs can lead to more inclusive company policies and a more positive work environment.
ERGs support greater diversity, leading to more varied ideas and perspectives, improving your product or service.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Meaning
ERGs are employee-led groups that work to increase the standing of underrepresented groups in the workplace. Participation in an ERG is often established around a shared trait, such as:
An employee resource group fosters connections between an underrepresented group and the rest of the company to give its members more opportunities to grow. They aren’t meant to be exclusive; people without the shared characteristic should be able to join as long as they’re willing to advocate for inclusivity.
Importance and Benefits of ERGs in the Workplace
Many ERGs tend to be created by employees who volunteer their time, but some workplaces pay an employee to lead one. That’s because a group does work that tends to benefit the company as a whole. Some of the advantages of an ERG are listed below.
Improve Work Conditions
Because ERG focuses on improving the work life for underrepresented people in the workplace, their efforts often lead to revamped work conditions. For example, it’s easy for remote workers to feel alienated at their jobs due to distance, but an ERG would help fix that by advocating for better teleconferencing technology. Or, if an ERG advocates for people with physical disabilities, they can champion a change in workplace accessibility features so opportunities are truly open to all.
Create an Inclusive Workplace
ERGs are positioned to foster acceptance and a sense of community. Additionally, your employees will feel safer interacting with their peers and be more engaged with the community because they have equal opportunities to advance in their careers. With a focus on inclusivity, employee resource groups become champions of ethical and fair practices within a company.
Enhance Employee Experience in the Workplace
Implementing an ERG ensures underrepresented groups have the same resources as other employees who do not face systemic inequalities. Having ample access to help creates a more positive employee experience, ensuring that new hires start on the right foot and veterans always feel supported.
Promote Diversity & Cultural Awareness
Employee resource groups advocating for underrepresented people help increase their inclusion in daily work operations. In addition, they work to help other employees and leadership understand different cultural norms so they can be as inclusive as possible.
Greater diversity within your business helps improve the brainstorming process by allowing teams to tackle problems in various ways. Supporting and promoting these diverse viewpoints can benefit the company overall.
Identify and Develop Leaders
Providing more opportunities for underrepresented groups to grow can often reveal works that stand out from the crowd by exceeding expectations. Often these individuals have the most potential to excel in leadership roles, and the added diversity increases the number of employees with the potential to advance.
How To Support ERGs in Your Organisation
While employee resource groups can form and operate independently, their agenda won’t succeed without support from the leadership. Considering how beneficial one of these groups can be, knowing how to back their goals is vital if you want to capitalise on them.
Establish a Diversity Council
A diversity council is a group with representatives from every demographic in your business. From there, the council will partner with any ERGs to establish and work towards diversity and inclusion goals. Doing so involves:
Developing in-depth actions with the goal of increasing diversity and supporting initiatives to promote equity at work
Budgeting for the necessary finances to successfully support and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives
Mediating conflicts that could harm diversity or inclusion
Find more about diversity management and how it can help grow your business.
Hire Diverse Workers
Open up your recruitment process to include candidates from all walks of life. That way, you further the ERGs goals and increase the variety of ideas and perspectives within your company. The more diverse your workforce, the easier it is to support underrepresented groups. Consider reaching out to recruitment firms or groups outside your organisation that promote job opportunities to underrepresented groups.
Free Personal and Career Development Courses
Establishing courses that help all of your employees grow gives those in underrepresented demographics a chance to learn valuable skills to advance in their careers. At the same time, development courses can benefit all your employees and help them reach their fullest potential. Additionally, showing you’re invested in their futures can encourage them to stay with your company long-term.
Encourage Newcomers To Join ERGs
Lastly, one of the best ways to support any ERGs within your company is by directing new hires to join them. The larger an employee resource group is, the more influence they can gain over company policies and the general work environment. It’s good for the newcomer as well because you’ll direct them to several valuable resources that can help them get started in their new role and eventually grow beyond.
Ways To Support Employees in Starting ERGs
You may have employees in your company who want to start ERGs on their own, and they will need support to participate as much as possible. Below are a few ways to give your team the resources they need to help further the employee resource group’s goals.
It can be difficult for employees to participate in ERG business with their already packed schedules. One of the best ways to help employees participate is by allowing ERGs to hold meetings during work hours. That way, your workers can have some warning about where it’ll happen, so that it cuts into their responsibilities as minimally as possible.
ERGs commonly need funds to conduct events, raise money for a cause or complete their goals. To allocate a part of your company’s budget towards them is one of the valuable things you can do to help them accomplish their goals. It means they’ll have the funds to launch their own diversity and inclusiveness initiatives or attain important resources.
Provide Assets and Resources
You can also support ERGs by providing them with physical resources, such as conference rooms, refreshments and access to marketing services. With these assets, you set your employees to succeed with a comfortable space where they can hold their meetings and welcome new members.
In addition, you can also help get ERG spokespeople in front of an audience by setting up larger gatherings in dedicated meeting halls or similar venues. This ensures their message reaches as large an audience as possible.
HR and Management Should Help
Members of the company leadership should also join ERGs alongside regular employees to give any decisions the group makes more weight.
Additionally, their leadership experience and organisational skills can help focus the group’s effort and make it much easier to accomplish their goals. As many can join as the group itself wants, but one or two members of leadership per chapter are usually ideal.
Approve and Celebrate ERGs
When one of your employees appears with the idea for an ERG, it needs to be approved as quickly as possible. If they’re left to sit and wonder, the idea will fizzle out, and employees will miss the chance to capitalise on their benefits.
Additionally, once the ERG is set up, spread the word that it is available so it can start building a reputation among the workforce. Doing so can help it grow faster and keep the employees involved and motivated to follow through on accomplishing their goals.
Examples of ERGs
Many existing companies have become home to important employee resource groups fostering a greater understanding of underrepresented groups. Some of the most notable examples include:
A women’s network
A people of colour network
An ERG for people with disabilities
An advocacy group for people with mental health challenges
A group to help young professionals
Mentorship programmes for new hires
A committee for sustainability practices
An ERG that supports volunteer work and community service
A support group for veterans
A group that advocates for working parents
Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Resource Groups
What Are Employee Resource Groups?
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a collection of people who either share a unique trait or wish to support people that do. Their main goals are to advocate for the underrepresented group they represent and help increase the opportunities they get within the workplace.
What Are the Benefits of Employee Resource Groups?
ERGs work to build connections among employees, helping underrepresented parts of the workforce feel more engaged by working to change company policy and foster understanding between different cultures.
How Can HR Professionals Support ERGs?
HR professionals can help ERGs thrive by pointing new hires to a budding group or allocating resources there so they can hold meetings comfortably.
Additionally, they can join the ERG themselves to help guide them and give their decisions additional weight.
What Are Examples of ERGs?
Some of the most common employee resource groups include diversity resource groups, volunteer groups, affinity groups and professional development groups.
Support Company ERGs with Personio
It can be hard to keep track of employee resource group requests considering all the other responsibilities you may need to deal with. But leave them to their own devices for too long, and the group may disperse, causing the company to miss out on valuable benefits and employees to feel disgruntled. However, with Personio’s “conversations” feature, you can easily keep track of every request coming from all corners of the organisation, including ERGs.
Book your free demo to learn how Personio can help you manage your workplace.
We would like to inform you that the contents of our website (including any legal contributions) are for non-binding informational purposes only and does not in any way constitute legal advice. The content of this information cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice from e.g. a lawyer that addresses your specific situation. In this respect, all information provided is without guarantee of correctness, completeness and up-to-dateness.
Get Exclusive Insights, Invites and More With Our Weekly HR Newsletter
© 2023 Personio SE & Co. KG