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What are Business Resource Groups (BRGs)?

Updated: Apr 26

Business Resource Groups

Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are becoming more common within organizations as business objectives become the center of focus especially when the economic conditions are not favorable.

What are Business Resource Groups?

Over the years, organizations realized the value of ERGs and the potential they had to positively impact the workplace. This led to the introduction of Business Resource Groups (BRGs) which are evolved ERGs involved in the strategic initiatives of the organization. BRGs are aligned to business objectives. They work towards improving company policies and processes, contribute to product and service innovation and are directly connected to key business goals such as employee retention, customer experience, talent acquisition and more.

The evolution of Business Resource Groups (BRGs)

According to the history and evolution of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), they started out as internal communities for underrepresented groups. ERGs provided an avenue for employees to discuss the unique challenges and shared experiences of those who belong to minority groups. Then came the turning point when organizations realized the power voices of diverse communities had in improving policies, products and services. These groups were then given additional goals and responsibilities and were transformed into impact centers.

How Business Resource Groups operate

When Business Resource Groups are created they are aligned with internal goals such as increased diverse representation in leadership roles and higher employee retention or external goals such as contributing to marketing objectives through insights and collaborating with external partners to create community impact. Executive Sponsors of ERGs as well as ERG Leads are responsible for creating a plan of action to achieve those goals. Key metrics are tracked and each BRG is evaluated periodically on their achievements.

Example of BRGs driving Product Innovation at Ingredion

For example, at Ingredion, one of the three things that the BRGs are supposed to be able to do throughout the year is close the gap on the business and product knowledge. Their Empower BRG, which empowers employees with disabilities, partnered with business leaders to provide input on how one of their products for people with dysphasia can be made more accessible to all by altering its packaging. In the 5-min video, shared above, Samantha Renovato, Director Global DEI, Ingredion discusses the example in more detail. Find the complete webinar with the transcript here.

Example of BRGs driving innovation at Mass General Brigham, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Labcorp

The video excerpt highlights how Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can improve products and services in healthcare and beyond. Hospitals like Mass General Brigham leverage ERGs (called Communities) to get feedback on diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. An example is an ERG-driven campaign to promote pronoun representation through buttons and stickers. This initiative gained strong leadership support and is now being piloted across the organization.

In the pharmaceutical industry, ERGs at Takeda play a role in ensuring clinical trial guidelines consider cultural fairness. Additionally, they help ensure patient marketing materials are culturally appropriate through translation reviews. Overall, ERGs offer valuable insights from diverse perspectives. This can improve product development, marketing, and awareness of healthcare inequities. By acting as sounding boards, ERGs help businesses understand the needs of both their patients and employees.

More Examples of Business Impact

At Takeda Pharmaceuticals, their BRGs (called TRGs internally) provide input about diversity in clinical trials as well as in pilot programs with HR for diversity recruiting as well as retained. Their Take Pride Group (LGBTQIA+ BRG) influenced and gave feedback on transgender guidelines. Takeda’s Latino Group Impacto does a program called La Vos where healthcare providers and patients are invited to share their experiences from a cultural perspective and discuss challenges related to Health Equity.

The video discusses how Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be aligned with business objectives in the healthcare industry. The panelists from Takeda, Mass General Brigham and Labcorp share their experiences in leveraging ERGs to achieve cultural impact, improve business outcomes and strengthen talent recruitment and development. These ERGs / BRGs play a vital role in creating a sense of belonging for employees, bringing the voice of the patient into decision making and promoting diversity and inclusion across the organization.

How to start a Business Resource Group

Here's a roadmap to get a BRG program off the ground and ensure its long-term impact.

1. Gauge Employee Interest and Identify Leaders

  • Surveys:  Distribute surveys to assess employee interest in BRGs and identify potential areas of focus, such as gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ inclusion, or veteran support.

  • Existing ERG Members:  Reach out to members of existing ERGs to see if they're interested in leading a BRG specific to their needs.

Example: The IT department might discover a strong interest in a Women in Tech BRG through surveys. Existing members of the Women's ERG could then spearhead the initiative.

2. Align BRGs with Business Goals

Don't let BRGs operate in a silo. Clearly define how they contribute to the company's strategic objectives.

  • Inclusive Policies:  A BRG representing racial minorities could partner with HR to review company policies and suggest improvements for greater inclusivity.

  • Mentorship Programs:  BRGs focused on gender equality could set mentoring goals to increase the number of women in senior positions.

3. Empower BRGs with Leadership Support

  • Executive Sponsors:  Assign a senior leader as an executive sponsor for each BRG. This leader provides guidance, advocates for the BRG's initiatives, and secures resources.

Example: The CEO could sponsor the LGBTQ+ BRG, demonstrating the company's commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion at the highest level.

4. Foster Communication and Collaboration

  • Communication Campaigns:  Develop internal communication campaigns to raise awareness about BRGs, their goals, and the value they bring to the company. This encourages participation and collaboration across departments.

Example: Partner with the marketing team to create a social media campaign highlighting the work of BRGs and their contributions to the company culture.

5. Track Progress and Adapt

  • Regular Reviews: Conduct quarterly or bi-annual reviews to assess BRG effectiveness. Track metrics like membership growth, event attendance, and progress towards established goals.

  • Adaptability:  Be prepared to adapt BRG initiatives based on feedback and changing company priorities.

In some cases, BRGs need to be provided with budgets. Investing in ERG software technology can simplify work and reduce repetitive and mundane management tasks.

BRGs can also align with corporate social and environmental goals and bring them to fruition by partnering with nonprofit organizations to bring about change. They also provide a sense of purpose to its members. BRG members get recognition for their contribution and underrepresented voices also get a platform to influence products and processes. BRG leaders get visibility with senior executives to showcase their leadership skills. Business Resource Groups are a great way to build internal communities that are driven for a greater cause and organizations should invest in them for a brighter future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some of the challenges in setting up and running BRG programs, and how can these challenges be addressed?

One challenge lies in securing strong leadership support. The solution? Move beyond "buy-in" and frame BRGs as strategic partners. Collaboratively set goals that demonstrate how BRG activities directly connect to achieving key business objectives. Another hurdle is fostering a sense of belonging within the diverse BRG membership. To address this, actively cultivate an inclusive environment where a variety of perspectives are not just tolerated, but valued and leveraged for better decision making.

Finally, establishing clear goals is crucial, but the true test of success lies in demonstrating the BRG's impact. The solution here is to connect those goals to tangible business outcomes. Think employee engagement, retention, or innovation – metrics that resonate with leadership and showcase the BRG's contribution to the company's success. By implementing these solutions, BRGs transform from potential roadblocks into high-performing drivers of business success.

What metrics can be used to measure the success and impact of a BRG program?

A key metric is alignment with predefined goals, whether it's boosting retention through inclusive policies or influencing sales through marketing collaboration. The impact on the business can be financial, like increased sales, or cultural, like improved employee sentiment reflected in retention rates. By demonstrating these positive contributions, BRGs can solidify their value to the organization. Explore this case study about a global consulting firm that demonstrated the impact of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) on business objectives.

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