Employee Resource Group (ERG) Implementation Workshop
On July 25th, Jillian Climie and Sophie Warwick, co-founders of The Thoughtful Co., walked us through how to implement an Employee Resource Group (ERG), delivering an easy-to-follow action plan to equip women to build successful and supportive ERGs.
ERGs offer a sense of community and belonging. “If you don’t feel included by the people around you, if you don’t feel that an effort is being made to correct that, you’re not going to be your best self, or offer as many opinions, and maybe even avoid being in that environment. An ERG has to offer a sense of safe space so that people can show up as themselves,” Sophie explained.
What are ERGs?
ERGs are the frontline to achieving gender equity in the workplace. They are usually formed by equity-seeking individuals in the organization with the intention of sharing experiences and providing mutual support. They are the people with lived experiences whom the organization should turn to and learn from.
ERGs allow their organizers to create opportunities to improve their employee experience. They can identify unique needs that are not met and aren’t recognized by the majority group. An ERG can prioritize key goals and select a few critical targets to focus on each year.
Roughly 90 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs, and 85 per cent of women said that participating in their ERG benefited them and their careers. (Huang, G. 2017, Forbes)
Why are ERGs so important?
Basically, they have the ability to create real change. 50 per cent of women that participated in an ERG reported improvement in policies, including parental leave, mentorship, flexibility, and vacation. (Huang, G. 2017, Forbes)
What’s more, it is a way to engage minority groups, making them feel supported and included. This can lead to better long-term retention and a more diverse workforce.
Sophie and Jillian also noted that company profits and share price performance can be almost 80 per cent higher when women are well represented at the top.
How to implement an ERG?
You start by creating a dashboard. Look at your organization’s gender equity spread and observe differences in ratios at junior and high-ranking levels. Then look into the disparity between teams from different areas. Having that visual of the inequity is useful to see where the drop-off takes place.
Now it’s time to set specific targets that you want to achieve. It is important to identify key metrics to keep you on track. For instance, you might set a goal of increasing the presence of women on the board of directors from 5 per cent to 50 per cent by 2030. By analyzing and benchmarking the current gender equity situation you can measure your progress in the future.
Don’t be afraid to get creative in the ways you want to achieve these goals while focusing on the two fronts: recruitment-led (junior level) and retention-led initiatives (more senior level).
The next step can be making a list of policies and events that you think would help improve those different areas. An important recommendation is to mirror the organization’s business strategy as you want to integrate ERGs with the rest of the company.
You should pick two to three key goals that will make the most difference with your effort. Always keep the list of initial and growing ideas to study their efficacy and future implementation.
Get an advisor
Jillian also recommended getting an advisor. “We really have seen that every company, region, culture and industry has unique challenges and issues, so it can be helpful to leverage advisors. They can help develop a framework that will empower you to reach your goals with your resource constraints. As well as implementation and long-term management.”
About the founders of The Thoughtful Co.
Jillian’s and Sophie’s mission is to enable recognition, opportunity and influence for women in the workplace through individual and employer coaching. They achieve this by helping women negotiate their compensation, and they also advise employers to include more equitable policies in the workplace for women, such as implementing ERGs, objective hiring practices, and parental leave to mention a few.
You can contact Jillian and Sophie via their website at www.thethoughtfulco.net. You’ll also find articles written by them and resources specifically focused on developing ERGs.
Huang, G. 2017, 90% Of Fortune 500 Companies Already Have A Solution To Gender Equality But Aren’t Utilizing It. Forbes