top of page

Common challenges faced by Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Updated: Apr 15

Employee Resource Group Challenges

Ensuring Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are successful in any organization requires the right resources and a strategic action plan. Although having ERGs is almost a must-have these days, there are some challenges that are bound to come up if ERGs are not treated as a vital component of the organization’s DEI initiatives. In this blog, we'll explore some of the most common roadblocks ERGs encounter, and offer tips on how to overcome them.

10 Common Challenges of Employee Resource Groups (ERG) Management

1. Clarity of Purpose

A well-defined purpose is the cornerstone of any successful ERG. Without a clear mission and vision, ERGs can struggle to make a meaningful impact. Think of a purpose statement as an ERG's compass, guiding its activities and decision-making. Without this north star, ERGs risk pursuing irrelevant initiatives and ultimately losing credibility and identity.

The Solution:

ERG leaders should invest time in crafting a clear and concise purpose statement for their group. The more effort put into this foundational element, the stronger the ERG's foundation will be. A well-defined purpose statement ensures activities align with the ERG's core mission, fostering long-term success and a strong, independent identity for the group.

2. Weak Team Structure

ERGs often take flight with passionate volunteers, but relying solely on them can lead to a quick stall. Managing an ERG involves numerous hidden tasks that quickly overwhelm individuals. Without a dedicated team, the program can struggle to gain traction before reaching its full potential.


The solution lies in establishing a well-defined structure. Consider appointing an ERG Program Manager to oversee all groups, along with dedicated ERG Leaders for each individual group. Depending on the organization's size, complexity, global reach, and employee base, additional support committees might be beneficial. Schedule regular check-ins with ERG managers and leaders to assess the effectiveness of the structure and make adjustments as needed. For a more detailed breakdown and an example structure (like Amtrak's) on how to manage ERGs effectively, you can explore this detailed blog.

3. Lack of Leadership Support

The absence of senior leadership and CXO mentions of ERGs during town halls and daily meetings sends a silent message: ERGs are not a priority. This demotivates ERG leaders, volunteers who dedicate their time to managing these important groups. It also discourages member participation. Additionally, ERG budgets often face delays due to a lack of senior leader approval.


A powerful strategy to engage senior leaders is by appointing them as Executive Sponsors for specific ERGs. In this role, they become champions for "their" ERG, actively involved in decision-making and ultimately responsible for its success. Their visible participation and vocal support will inspire employees to become active and enthusiastic ERG members, driving a thriving ERG program. With strong sponsor backing, ERG budgets gain faster approvals, allowing for quicker impact and streamlined execution.

4. Low ERG Awareness

High employee turnover can lead to a lack of awareness about ERGs and their valuable role within the organization. New hires often don't receive all the information they need about ERGs upfront, and with daily workloads, these groups can fade from memory if not actively promoted.


Companies can address this challenge by strategically integrating ERG information throughout the recruitment and onboarding process. Additionally, establishing a regular internal communication campaign is key. These campaigns should showcase ERG events, activities, and the positive impact they create within the organization. Highlighting these aspects not only increases awareness but also encourages employee participation, either through membership or volunteering. Campaigns coupled with the aforementioned support from senior leadership can help promote ERGs and elevate their visibility within the company.

5. Lack of a Unified Platform

Finding and engaging with ERGs can be a hurdle for employees without a central platform. In the absence of a unified system, joining an ERG might involve emailing individual leads, making it difficult to discover newly launched groups. Additionally, tracking membership, event attendance, and facilitating discussions becomes cumbersome without a centralized tool.


Implementing a dedicated ERG platform streamlines communication and engagement for both employees and administrators. This comprehensive software provides a one-stop shop for employees to explore all available ERGs and join them with a single click. The platform enhances user experience, fostering greater participation. On the management side, dedicated dashboards allow ERG leads and managers to easily access and analyze all relevant data at a glance.

6. ERG Membership Criteria

Who gets to be a member of which ERG is a pertinent question which is often overlooked while creating ERG membership policies. The very nature of an ERG can alienate some other groups of employees and make them feel excluded. Overly restrictive policies can unintentionally create a siloed atmosphere in the workplace, ultimately hindering the goal of inclusivity.


To foster a truly inclusive environment, ERGs should consider adopting an open-to-all membership policy. This allows employees who identify with the ERG's mission or who wish to be allies to participate. ERG leadership can then leverage technology, like ERG software, to manage different member types. This could involve assigning roles and permissions, customizing access to events and activities, or creating dedicated channels for allies. This approach ensures a diverse and supportive community within each ERG.

7. ERG Lead Burnout

A hidden threat to ERG success lies in the heavy workload often shouldered by ERG leaders. Managing day-to-day activities like memberships, events, communication, and more can quickly become overwhelming. Without dedicated ERG management software, leaders resort to a patchwork of tools – emails, spreadsheets, manual calendars, and separate communication channels. With limited hours in the day, juggling these tasks on top of regular work can lead to burnout and hinder ERG effectiveness.


Equipping ERG leaders with the right software is the key to combating burnout. Advanced ERG management solutions consolidate all functionalities into a single, user-friendly platform. Membership management, event RSVPs, discussion boards – everything is centralized, streamlining workflows. Automation and analytics further alleviate the burden of repetitive tasks, freeing up ERG leaders' time for strategic planning and growth initiatives.

8. Tracking ERG metrics

Demonstrating the value of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be a hurdle for program managers. Especially without ERG software, showcasing how ERG activities contribute to business goals becomes a challenge. This lack of clear impact can hinder ERG growth, making it difficult to justify budgets to senior leadership.


Define and track key ERG metrics from the moment your ERG program launches. ERG software solutions offer user-friendly dashboards and reports that simplify this process. By analyzing ERG metrics, program managers can make informed decisions about new initiatives. For instance, stagnant membership numbers might call for fresh ERG awareness campaigns. Similarly, low event attendance could be addressed by sending surveys to gather feedback and improve future events.

Investing in ERG software that integrates with HR information systems (HRIS) unlocks a new level of data analysis. This enhanced data can reveal the true impact of ERGs on employee sentiment, performance, and retention. This deeper understanding empowers program managers to effectively showcase ERG value to senior leaders and secure the resources needed for continued growth.

9. Scaling ERG Programs

One of the most persistent hurdles for organizations with Employee Resource Groups is achieving effective scale. This challenge has two dimensions: depth and breadth. Depth refers to expanding the reach of ERGs within a specific region. Program managers often grapple with establishing more city-wise chapters to cater to a wider employee base. Breadth, on the other hand, focuses on growing the ERG program across different countries, venturing into the global realm. The prospect of scaling ERGs, particularly on a global scale, can be quite daunting. The sheer size and the unique cultural and legal considerations that arise in different regions can make program managers hesitant to pursue such expansion.


Fortunately, advanced ERG management platforms offer solutions to navigate the complexities of a large-scale network. These platforms allow for easy chapter creation – adding new chapters becomes a single-click operation. Additionally, program managers can access detailed data specific to each chapter, enabling them to effectively manage the program across various locations. However, a more nuanced approach is necessary for global ERG programs. ERG structures and activities may need to be adapted to specific geographical locations to comply with local legislation and cultural sensitivities. By creating shared resources, programs can avoid duplication of effort and facilitate expansion through efficient knowledge sharing. ERG software is a valuable tool to scale ERG programs.

In the webinar snippet shared above, panelists from Molson Coors Beverage Company discuss challenges of managing global ERG programs. Read the complete webinar transcript here.

10. Ensuring ERG Compliance

Compliance with data privacy, security, and employee consent regulations is crucial for all employee programs, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). This becomes even more complex for global ERGs, where regional regulations add another layer of challenge. Without robust compliance measures, companies face potential legal and financial risks. However, ERG leaders and managers, often volunteers with limited legal expertise, may struggle to implement these stringent measures. This can hinder their efforts to expand and grow their ERGs.


The key to overcoming this challenge lies in a well-defined compliance checklist specifically designed for ERGs. ERG program managers should work closely with the legal team to develop this checklist, ensuring it incorporates all necessary regulations. Implementing these compliance measures safeguards both ERG leaders and members. Additionally, establishing a standardized process makes it less reliant on individuals, reducing vulnerability to disruptions caused by staff turnover. This fosters a more robust and sustainable ERG program.  Teleskope has created a free resource titled 'The Complete Compliance Checklist for ERGs' which can be downloaded here.

If the aforementioned challenges are not recognized and mitigated in time, Employee Resource Groups can disintegrate and all the efforts put into sustaining them would be in vain. It is important to periodically reassess ERGs and their management and incorporate new strategies to ensure they keep growing and serving the DEI goals of the organization.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What business impact can implementing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have for a company?

Implementing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be a powerful driver of positive business impact. When empowered effectively, ERGs can transform from internal support groups to strategic business partners. Companies that elevate ERGs to Business Resource Groups (BRGs) see a direct contribution to core functions. For instance, diverse ERGs can collaborate with marketing, product development, and communication teams to offer unique insights on reaching and serving minority communities. Internally, ERG members can champion initiatives that promote inclusive policies, fostering a more welcoming and equitable work environment. Advanced ERG software solutions further amplify this impact by providing data on how ERGs influence employee performance and retention. A global consulting firm successfully analyzed data of ERG members vs non-members to reveal insights. The case study, "Business Impact of ERGs", is available here.

What are some key metrics used to measure the success of ERG programs?

A crucial metric is ERG membership growth. A steady increase in members suggests employees see value in what the ERG offers. But it's not just about quantity. ERG leader should also track member engagement. This can be measured by things like attendance at events, participation in initiatives, or surveys that gauge member satisfaction. Tracking both metrics provides a well-rounded picture of the ERG's impact, showing not only that employees are joining but also that they're actively involved. Other metrics such as event attendance, employee engagement etc. are also indicators. Read all about 10 key metrics every ERG leader should track in out dedicated blog on the topic here.


bottom of page