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How to track the impact of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) on DEI goals

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Let’s say your organization has done a fantastic job of defining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals at the start of the fiscal year. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which serve as the foundation for the DEI framework, have been successfully created and promoted throughout the year. Before you know it, the annual review meeting is around the corner. However, you are struggling to align and connect the ERGs to the DEI goals and showcase tangible results.

This is a conundrum faced by many DEI leaders across different industries. While a lot of time and effort is spent in creating and nurturing different Employee Resource Groups, tracking metrics to gauge their functional and fiscal efficiency is often sidelined.

Some non-negotiable metrics that need to be tracked for every ERG and its chapters are membership numbers, number of events, and member attendance. These numbers will reveal the ERGs that have captivated employees. It is imperative to note that quality should trump quantity concerning these metrics. This implies that an ERG having a substantial number of members will not be deemed successful if the ERG’s event attendance is abysmal.

A planning document based on the 4C framework is a great way to structure the activities and desired impact of Employee Resource Groups. The 4C’s - Culture, Community, Commerce, and Career - need to be mapped to data points that feed into DEI goals. The document should be created at the beginning of the year and periodic check-ins to track progress should be scheduled.

Widespread and consistent communication about ERGs and what they stand for is vital for success. The desired cultural shift in the organization can then be measured by carrying out regular awareness assessments in the form of quizzes and in-person discussions.

The general sense of community within the organization can be gauged by assessing the overall engagement and growth of ERGs. The impact of internal ERGs on the external community can also be deduced by cross-referencing data points such as volunteer hours and donations of ERG members versus those of non-ERG members. This also trickles up into how the organization as a whole contributes to the betterment of society.

The commerce aspect of the 4C framework alludes to the business impact of ERGs. An ERG must in some way bolster an organization by serving either clients or the business. ERGs have been noted to provide insights that have aided global product development. They also act as gatekeepers in the formulation and dissemination of culturally sensitive information by the organization. Critical organizational metrics such as employee engagement and employee retention can also be cross-referenced for employees who are part of one or more ERGs compared to those who are not. This will help correlate how ERGs affect overall employee satisfaction.

The career impact of ERGs can be studied by the number of successfully onboarded referrals by ERGs which are aligned with the firm’s overall diversity goal. Mentorship, internship and scholarship programs for specific ERGs can also move metrics for overall DEI objectives. The interaction and involvement of leaders across ERGs also helps in initiating dialogue and awareness across the board.

Most Fortune 500 companies have a business plan linked to each ERG. They use ERG management tools to track and measure growth and business impact. This is how they ensure that ERGs add value to their organization.

Defining well-thought out goals that align with company values coupled with crystal clear measurable metrics is the perfect way to sync your ERG stories with DEI business goals.

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