Forums

I think I see signs of an increase in the adoption of employee resource groups (ERG) across organizations, and would like to hear about the MT community’s experience. Are these driving work-relevant conversations and activities? Are they helpful in building effective relationships in the organization? Is there a cast for that?
I seem to remember Mark jokingly saying something along the lines of “we had a really great conversation about politics” to one’s CEO and her/him not seeing the value in that use of one’s time at work, and am left to wonder if these groups are leading to that kind of conversation, or if they are worth the investment.

V/R,
V.

al_carrig's picture

I have a negative opinion on the introduction of ERGs into a organization and much of the current D&EI efforts that are trending currently. The main concerns are the possibility of creating negative effects from what you would assume is a positive addition to an organization.

For instance, ERGs are typically formed as a way to increase diversity and inclusion efforts within an organization. So you'll see groups pop up that often represent minority groups or underrepresented groups of your overall workforce. While that sounds good in theory to provide a way to connect for the LBGTQ+ community or a group specifically for those with a specific heritage (ex: Black and Hispanic are the most common I have seen) What I think can happen is that your create a negative effect by alinating other groups within your workforce. I've yet to see an ERG specifically for and celebrating the heritage for "Caucasian" for instance. An organization would also not allow a group to come together that was focused on heterosexual relationships and traditional family structures, although the majority of the world population and religions support that.

So I think overall, organizations should really weigh out if the introduction of ERGs actually assists in driving the mission of the organization or will it create distractions/division in unexpected ways.

Best of luck in your contemplation on this topic.

Jollymom's picture

They are postive and negative feedbacks for ERG. More than half of the companies with fully developed diversity strategies use their ERGs to improve the business and personally, I find it good for business since they make sure employees have an opportunity.

peoplewarez's picture

ERGs have specific organizational benefits if you assume your employees are already doing things largely informally. For example, there are many ERGs at my workplace, including "women in tech", "black in tech" and "veterans in tech" ERGs.

The situation previously was these workers (specifically female, black, and/or veteran coworkers) were already organizing and meeting at the workplace to discuss their experiences and support one another. The company decided that they wanted to support their efforts to make them feel connected at work, and formalized into ERGs. This allows the company to sponsor them and give them some budget for recruiting etc, and also puts HR and other management in the room.

Creating them in a vacuum (i.e. before an employee has already started to organize out of their own efforts) will generally fall flat.

As far as how alienating things are, I think that depends on the size of the company and the rules and policies around them. At least for us we don't ban anyone from joining any ERG, and in fact I am a member of all three ERGs I mentioned even though I am not female, black, or a veteran. They are just three groups that I have the time and passion to support as a leader in my organization. However I work at a company with 50k+ employees.

This is where HR expertise is required as well that I do not have. The impacts this has on an organization, and what role your organization wants to play have a huge impact on what role ERGs should play.