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How ERGs contribute to Business Objectives

Updated: May 7


ERGs and business objectives

In today's data-driven business world, every department needs to demonstrate its impact on the company's bottom line. This is especially true for the Inclusion and Belonging function. While Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a cornerstone of Inclusion initiatives, ERG program managers often struggle to quantify the value ERGs bring to the organization. This blog post will address this challenge by providing practical examples of how ERGs can directly contribute to achieving key business objectives.


Here are 10 ways Employee Resource Groups can help businesses thrive.


1. Policy Making


Company policies often become outdated due to infrequent review.  Employee needs and expectations are constantly evolving, requiring a more dynamic approach.  Regular updates and a focus on inclusivity are crucial for fostering a positive and productive work environment.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be a game-changer in creating forward-thinking, inclusive policies.  By including representatives from minority-based ERGs in policy review committees, companies gain invaluable insights.  These representatives can shed light on lesser-known challenges faced by diverse groups and identify unintentional biases within existing policies.


Examples


Several companies demonstrate the power of diverse voices in policymaking.  Takeda Pharmaceuticals, for instance, collaborated with their LGBTQIA+ ERG to create transgender-inclusive policies.  Molson Coors Beverage Company provide their employees with 52-week parental leave policy, applicable regardless of gender or path to parenthood.  Similarly, involving Women's ERGs in drafting maternity and family leave policies provides a crucial perspective. Through their lived experiences, ERGs offer invaluable feedback that can transform outdated policies and pave the way for the creation of inclusive, future-proof guidelines.


2. Accessibility


Accessibility in the workplace goes beyond physical ramps and includes ensuring everyone can effectively use technology, communication tools, and navigate the work environment. While understanding the challenges faced by employees with disabilities can be difficult, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can bridge this gap. Members with disabilities can directly advise employers on accessibility needs and solutions.

Examples


Labcorp exemplifies this collaboration. Their Disability ERG identified accessibility issues and partnered with management to improve them, benefiting both employees and customers. Employees with visual or hearing impairments can be offered valuable insights, leading to the implementation of text-to-speech software, audio signage, and closed captioning. This kind of inclusive approach creates a wider talent pool and strengthens a company's reputation.


3. Product Development


Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be a game-changer in product development. Many companies, like Ingredion, a leading global ingredients solutions company, leverage their Business Resource Groups (BRGs) to significantly impact business processes and product innovation.


Examples


Ingredion tapped into the expertise of its Disability BRG to transform a decades-old product into a portable version, enhancing user experience and accessibility. This collaborative approach extends across industries. In the banking sector, partnerships with minority ERGs provide invaluable insights into the challenges faced by underserved communities. This knowledge empowers banks to develop financial products that cater to these specific needs. Similarly, healthcare companies rely on ERGs to guide their efforts in achieving health equity. ERG members play a crucial role in ensuring clinical trials reflect the demographics of the communities they serve. By fostering diverse teams with a wider range of perspectives and experiences, ERGs drive creativity and spark innovative ideas, ultimately leading to better products.




4. Service Improvement


Service companies can leverage Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to solve challenges with greater effectiveness. By bringing together diverse perspectives, ERGs can brainstorm a wider range of solutions, leading to a more positive customer experience. Employees from various backgrounds contribute a multitude of experiences, communication styles, and cultural understandings.

Examples


This diversity can be particularly valuable in understanding customer needs. ERGs can highlight the importance of having customer service representatives who speak multiple languages. This bridges the gap for non-native speakers, fostering trust and clear communication. Takeda Pharmaceuticals exemplifies this by connecting the voice of the employee with the voice of the customers they serve. Their approach included inviting people from the community, organizations, and non-profit organizations to discuss inequities faced by Black and Brown communities.


Similarly, ERGs can bring to light how patient journeys differ for different communities. This allows healthcare providers to improve the patient experience, especially for marginalized groups. For instance, Mass General Brigham's LGBTQ Resource Group launched a grassroots initiative offering pronoun buttons and stickers to employees, staff, patients, and visitors. This initiative, initially a grassroots effort, gained strong leadership buy-in and commitment and became a priority for the entire organization.



5. Marketing Initiatives


Marketing teams need to understand the ever-evolving needs of their diverse customer base. A small, homogenous group may struggle to create meaningful messages that resonate with this audience. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can act as valuable focus groups, providing feedback and insights.


Examples

ERGs can also serve as guides for creating culturally sensitive and inclusive content. They can help ensure marketing campaigns reflect racial diversity and include representation of all body shapes and sizes. For example, ERGs catering to millennials or Gen Z employees can be sounding boards during new product launches and branding exercises. They can provide feedback on language, color choices, and styles. Additionally, ERGs can offer insights into the most effective communication channels, potentially leading to more targeted marketing efforts and reduced spending.


Several companies have embraced inclusive marketing practices. Good American, Dove, and Barbie are all excellent examples. At Takeda, their Takeda Resource Groups (TRGs) review the translations of marketing materials in multiple languages, ensuring clarity and contributing to a superior customer experience for underrepresented groups.



6. Talent Acquisition


Today's employees seek a sense of belonging and purpose at work. Companies with strong Inclusion programs, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or Business Resource Groups (BRGs), become employers of choice for top talent. Conversely, companies that abandon their Inclusion efforts during challenging times send a clear message: inclusion is not a priority. This can alienate top talent who value DEI initiatives and wouldn't want to work for a company that doesn't prioritize them.

Examples:


ERGs can be leveraged throughout the recruitment and onboarding process. By showcasing ERGs during recruitment, candidates can experience the company's culture and commitment to employee well-being firsthand. This can give your company a competitive edge over other offers. During onboarding, provide access to ERG platforms where new hires can explore and join groups they identify with. Additionally, pairing new employees with ERG buddies from similar backgrounds can ease the transition into a new organization. These strategies, powered by ERGs, can help attract and retain top talent, ultimately propelling your company towards success.


7. Employee Retention


Organizations need to keep up with the changing times if they want to stay relevant to their customers and employees. Inclusion is no longer optional but integral in companies and ERGs help in many ways when they are aligned to business goals.


Examples


Teleskope's case study showcases a global consulting firm that successfully demonstrated the positive impact of ERGs on their business objectives. One key finding revealed that ERG members, on average, have a 50% longer tenure. Considering that employee turnover can cost companies 1.5 to 2 times an employee's salary, ERGs play a significant role in reducing employee churn, directly impacting the bottom line. A McKinsey study highlights that ERGs help create a sense of belonging at the workplace. This combats feelings of isolation, a major factor for employees leaving a company.


8. Employee Experience


Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can significantly boost employee experience and engagement. They foster a sense of belonging and community for employees from similar backgrounds. This is especially important for employees who might feel like the "only" one from their background within the organization.


Examples


An ERG for LGBTQ+ employees can provide a safe space to discuss challenges and celebrate identities. ERGs contribute to professional development.  For example, an ERG for women in tech can host mentorship programs or workshops on salary negotiation, which can boost the morale and productivity of women employees.


ERGs act as a bridge between employees and leadership. ERGs can channel concerns and ideas upwards, ensuring all voices are heard.  An ERG that supports mental health provides a safe space for open conversations about mental health, which in turn improves employee well-being and helps leadership understand employee needs.  A study even found that ERG members were rated as high performers 89% more often than non-ERG members. ERGs create a more inclusive and engaging work environment, ultimately benefiting both employees and the company.


9. Brand Reputation


ERGs signal a commitment to inclusion. This resonates with today's consumers, who increasingly seek to support brands that align with their values.  Consumers want to feel seen and heard, and ERGs demonstrate a brand's effort to understand and cater to a wider audience. This fosters a sense of loyalty that goes beyond traditional marketing tactics.


Examples


An ERG focused on LGBTQ+ employees could host a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace, generating positive media attention and showcasing the company's progressive values. ERGs can also amplify a brand's message through community outreach. A veterans' ERG volunteering demonstrates the company's commitment to social responsibility and community engagement. These efforts paint a positive picture of the company as a whole, strengthening its brand reputation.


10. Problem Solving


When a variety of viewpoints are considered, companies can make more well-rounded decisions that avoid blind spots. Diverse teams are better at considering all angles of a problem, leading to more effective solutions. Employee resource groups (ERGs) contribute directly to this strength. 


Examples


An ERG focused on accessibility might identify potential oversights in a new product design that the general design team hadn't considered. This could be anything from color contrast issues for users with visual impairments to challenges navigating the interface for users with motor skill limitations. By bringing these concerns to the table early, the ERG helps the company develop a more inclusive and successful product.

ERGs can also provide valuable insights into market demographics that the company might be missing. An ERG for employees of Latin descent could offer suggestions on how to better tailor marketing campaigns to reach that specific audience. This could involve using culturally relevant language and imagery, or identifying media outlets frequented by that demographic. By leveraging the diverse experiences and perspectives of its employees, a company can improve its marketing strategy and reach a wider customer base.


Aligning ERGs with business goals unlocks their true potential. Diverse voices become engines for growth, innovation, and a competitive edge. By embracing inclusion in decision-making, companies empower ERGs to deliver measurable business impact.


Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

 

Are there specific metrics companies can use to track the success of their ERG programs in achieving business goals?


Traditionally, measuring an Employee Resource Group's (ERG) success revolved around participation. But there's a shift towards tracking its impact on business objectives. ERG membership numbers are a crucial metric, with growth indicating employee value in the ERG's offerings. Tracking year-over-year membership percentages helps gauge the ERG's effectiveness. Engagement metrics are important too. These can include attendance at ERG events, participation in surveys, or utilization of ERG resources. Metrics can even measure the impact of ERG initiatives on employee retention. Reduced turnover rates within ERG member demographics can be a positive indicator. Deep dive into 10 key ERG metrics in this detailed blog post.

 

What are some common challenges in managing ERGs and how can companies overcome them?


Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) foster a sense of community and belonging for employees with shared identities or backgrounds. However, they can also face obstacles. One challenge is simply connecting employees with the ERGs they'd like to join. Without a central platform, finding and joining relevant groups can be difficult, especially for new hires or those unfamiliar with existing ERGs. Furthermore, managing membership manually and keeping track of events can be cumbersome for ERG leaders. Scaling ERGs effectively is another hurdle. This involves not only expanding reach within a specific region, but also growing the program internationally. These challenges can be addressed, and there are steps companies can take to ensure their ERG programs thrive. Click here to read more about the 10 most common ERG challenges and how to overcome them.

 

Are there best practices for structuring ERGs?


To be successful, ERGs need a well-defined structure and management plan. This should align with the organization's goals. A good structure distributes tasks among a team, preventing burnout for any single leader. Core positions can be created to lead ERGs, with committees for support. This helps manage communication, events, and finances. By following these tips, you can create a win-win situation for both your organization and your employees. Click here to read more about how to structure and manage ERGs.





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