Women’s Employee Networks (or Employee Resource Groups as they are called in some organizations) have been one of the first workplace communities that came into existence. As ERGs evolved, the breadth of different types of communities expanded. However, till date, women’s ERGs have enjoyed high membership numbers and quality engagement among employees.
Among Fortune 500 companies, women accounted for only 7.4%, or 37 out of 500 CEOs. The pace of bridging the gender gap in the C-Suite has been slow. Women ERG’s can be the much-needed incubators to help women progress personally and professionally and break the glass ceiling.
How Women’s ERGs help members
Women’s ERGs provide a safe space for women to connect and grow in an organization. Most women-centric employee networks focus on building a supportive community where important matters can be discussed without fear. This community is based on empathy, mutual-respect and the passion to reach one’s full potential.
Women’s ERGs provide their members with mentorship opportunities by connecting senior women leaders to budding managers for career guidance and support. Female business leaders as members of the ERG inspire their colleagues to take on roles and responsibilities that challenge them.
Training and development programs conducted by ERGs help members in their professional development. The members get access to resources such as best practices, panel discussions, informal meet and greets, conferences and other events with a focus on women empowerment. They also get opportunities for networking and a forum to discuss the challenges of being a woman in the workplace.
How Women’s ERGs help the organization
77 percent of women respondents said they would join a women’s ERG if their company offered one. This shows the direct impact of how nurturing ERGs can improve employee engagement. Showcasing the Women’s ERG during the recruitment process can make an organization an employer of choice for many. Thus, Women’s ERGs directly influence the diversity of an organization.
Women supporting and celebrating other women belonging to different ethnicities, departments and designations impacts the culture of the organization. It also creates an atmosphere which is conducive for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion focused activities.
According to McKinsey, compared to their male counterparts, women leaders were twice as likely to focus their time on DEI work outside their regular work. Hence, they play a critical role in helping the organization achieve its DEI goals.
Women’s ERG members can be roped to drive policy changes. Through constructive discussions, organizational policies can be revisited and revised to ensure gender equality in matters such as pay parity and parental leave.
Different teams in the organization can work with the Women’s ERG to drive business objectives. ERG members can share their insights with the teams to help them improve products, policies as well as processes. The product development team, customer experience team and the HR department can harness the power of Women’s ERGs to elevate the quality of their deliverables.
Having a Women’s Network is extremely beneficial to both employees and the organization alike. It is imperative to understand that employees make choices based on where they feel valued and safe. Building a community that promotes a sense of belonging amongst their women employees is a gateway for success.
 The World's Women 2020 Study (UN-DESA)
 Taking Employee Resource Groups to the next level (CWB, Bentley University)
 Women in the Workplace 2021 (McKinsey)