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How Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) Drive Innovation

Updated: Mar 25

Employee Resource Groups & Product/Service Innovation: Given below is an excerpt from the Teleskope Webinar on ‘Leveraging ERGs’ where the panelists from Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Mass General Brigham and Labcorp discuss how product and service innovation is fostered by Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in their respective organizations.

Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Some of the panelists here maybe you're doing products, some of them maybe doing services type of business, but when you're really looking at like the core offering that Mass General provides, are you doing any sessions with the ERGs to really get their input into 'Hey, we're taking a new product to market' or 'We're launching a new hospital' or 'We're doing a new service'? What do you think the considerations are? Any insights you can share there, Brittnee, at least from Mass General and how you leverage the ERGs to get that type of insight?

Because you know at the end of the day, when you're launching a new product or service in a business, you don't know what you don't know, right? So, I've always thought ERGs are a great resource to be able to figure out like ‘Hey, are there some things that we need to consider that might not even be in the lens at the moment’, right? So, if you can share anything like that, Brittnee, that would be helpful. And then you know I'd love to pass that around to Jesus and Karla as well and on the whole R&D, product development, bringing new services to market.

Brittnee Bleau [Mass General Brigham]: Definitely. So, what we look at when we look at Employee Resource Groups and how they can interact with the business as a whole including patient care is really a way for them to give input on various D&I strategies and that could look like ERG policies throughout the organization on certain levels. It can also look at the inequities through the system at certain levels and be able to give input based on education and training and pilot groups. To be able to roll out this information and get really critical feedback on what is going to make sense within the broader population of our employees, patients, and visitors.

So, I'll give one example: our LGBTQ Resource Groups started a grassroots initiative in 2021 to really allow employees, staff, patients and visitors an opportunity to represent their pronouns with buttons and stickers so that no one would be using pronouns that weren't represented as what one individual would use. This initiative grew and was made a priority initiative for our entire organizational system, with really strong leadership buy-in and commitment. So, with senior leader buy-in, came pilots that are happening at some of our institutions and this initiative will be a launched along with educational materials, FAQs to ensure that people feel safe, represented and make sure people aren't experiencing any negative impacts of being misgendered or being represented in the use of their pronouns at any of our institutions or through any of our employee spaces.

Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Perfect. Thank you so much for that, Brittnee. Karla, anything to add on there on how your ERGs are helping take new products to market, help with R&D, help with new services either internal or those services that you're providing to customers? Anything to dovetail off of what Brittnee said on how you're using these for like pilot groups or sounding boards into the overall real business and products that Takeda has taken to market?

Karla Zevallos [Takeda]: Yeah, well the research and the medication is a little bit different as just a product but what I mentioned before is the perspective of bringing the different ERGs into conversations about if our guidelines, when it comes to clinical trials, are being fair. There are cultural areas taken into consideration. That's one but also, I mentioned as well, the marketing aspect of how our resources are being provided to our patients, I think that's very important. Also, the translation aspect of some of these resources. Our TRGs also serve as the reviewing that those translations are also that it makes sense, right that is not very stiff and that is culturally appropriate when we are launching those types of resources to the rest of our patients. So, that's some of the aspects that I've seen more in contact.

As well as when we had these larger celebrations with Hispanic Heritage Month, we make sure that we connect the voice of the employee with the voice of the customers that we serve. Especially when we went through the COVID pandemic, we invited people from the community, even organizations and non-profit organizations to discuss what were the inequities that we found with Black and Brown communities and how that impacted particularly to those communities just to raise the awareness because that's very close to the communities that we are serving.

So, that was a very important and impactful initiative that our ERGs were able to bring closer to people that might not be able to have that exposure, right? People in the in the company that might be doing research in the lab and might not be hearing closely what patients or HCPs are dealing with through those hard times that we encounter. And still after the pandemic, we bring in those conversations because it's just so important to continue bringing awareness of Health Equity.

Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Definitely. Jesus, from your end? Anything you want to add on to that on how you're leveraging ERG is either a sounding board, pilot groups, focus groups and things like that to help better deliver the products and services that Labcorp provides into the market?

Jesus Morales II [Labcorp]: Yeah, I'll be quickly brief because a lot of the things that everyone covered are similar to some of the experiences that we're doing at Labcorp. I think the biggest part is really just having ERGs and enabling them to be a sounding board for sharing lived experiences. They provide a lens for others to understand and they're often relatable and I think that's where it drives a lot of conversations and thinking from different perspectives and then also incorporating those different groups when they're making those decisions when it comes to not only just policies within the organization but in some cases policies that impact our healthcare, across the US but also on a global scale. So, that's all I wanted to add.

To watch the full webinar or read the complete transcript click here.

Webinar Details:

Topic: Webinar Topic: Leveraging ERGs in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Moderator: Maneet Sarai, Chief Product Officer, Teleskope


Brittnee Bleau, Project Coordinator, DEI Office, Mass General Brigham

Key topics: Employee Resource Groups, ERG Strategy, Business Goals, Health Equity, ERG Management, Leadership Team, ERG Structures, Product & Service Innovation, ERG Metrics, ERG Budgets

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