Employee Resource Group (ERG) Events: Webinar Transcript
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: All right, so I think we have a pretty healthy amount of participants on the call today. So, for everyone that's joining the webinar today, thanks a lot for joining and taking some time out on a Friday just to listen and learn about ERG events and all things surrounding ERG events. So, just a bit of a disclaimer up front, one of our panelists is having some technical difficulties. So, if she does join in at a later point, we'll get her into the Zoom Webinar. But we'll go ahead and get started here with our panelist. I just want to take a second just to quickly introduce myself, Teleskope, what we do, and then I'll pass it over to Rachee Powell just to give a quick introduction.
So, just by way of introduction, my name is Maneet Sarai. I do Head of Products for Teleskope. Our whole mission is really just to build your most powerful Enterprise Community platform. When you think about communities these can be things like ERGs, Mentoring communities Philanthropic communities and so forth. Today's webinar is really going to be focused on ERGs and mainly on ERG events.
And with that said I just want to introduce our first panelist here, Rachee Powell from FedEx. Rachee, if you wouldn't mind just jumping in and giving a quick introduction and also just giving a little a little bit of background and flavor on your program, the size of it, just so audience members have an indication of the context of your program.
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Sure. Thank you, Maneet and I love the word flavor when we talk about ERGs. So, my name is Rachee Powell and I am the DEI - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at FedEx Ground. A little bit about FedEx, we are committed to building and maintaining a workplace that values inclusion, diverse perspectives and ideas that contribute to advancing and promoting the company's overall business objectives and our Employee Resource Groups are part of that strategy.
So, we currently have 11 ERGs with nearly 9000 unique members and our members hosted 91 events between June of 2022 and May of 2023 and the number of team members that were impacted was over 9000. So, since June of 2023, the ERGs have already hosted 10 events with more than 1300 people impacted.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Wow! That's very cool. Excellent. So just jumping into that, Rachee, and just dovetailing into that, can you give us some insight in terms of what do these events look like in your organization? Like what's the different types of themes that you're seeing? How do you classify those - are these internal events, are they external? If you can give some makeup in just terms of like overall flavors of the events and you know, are they impacting just internal audiences? And are they also impacting external audiences maybe campus recruits, new employees, things like that? If you can just give us a little bit of understanding there, I think that'd be a great way to sort of segment into the remainder of the webinar as well.
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Sure! So, our Employee Resource Groups or ERG events include, but they are of course they are not limited to, team member retention, engagement, talent development, cultural events, and corporate social responsibility events in partnership with our FedEx Cares Program, which is our global community volunteering and charitable giving. And these events are planned and executed by our ERG leaders based on a variety of subject matters that meet our DEI strategic pillars around our people, our education engagement, our communities, customers and suppliers and of course our stories. So, our ERG leaders are also volunteers who selflessly demonstrate their commitment to our members and the company. And so, the overall impact of the events has had an employee experience that's been extremely positive and we know that based on post event surveys.
So, some of the events, some of the programs that our ERGs do that are really interesting - my favorite so far has been - oh I can't say my favorite, but there's so many but one which multiple FedEx Ground Employee Resource Groups collaborated to host what is our third Annual Multicultural Children's Book Drive. And that event resulted in over 37000 books collected across the network which impacted 50 community organizations. So, when we talk about, do the ERGs impact internal and external? Definitely. The goal is to have an internal impact but also part of our strategic plan is to impact our communities that we work and live in.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Gotcha. That makes total sense and you picked up a good point there around like post-event surveys. So, when it looks at measuring like the post-impact of an event, a lot of our customers always ask us like, hey what's the follow-up? Is it just like how did you enjoy this event - scale of one to five or something? Simply like that or is there a little bit deeper of you know just sort of a level of metrics that you're trying to get to in terms of what are these events in terms of like the enjoyment of the event, the satisfaction of it but are you also looking a little bit deeper like, hey what did you get out of that event and are you tying that back to any other sort of organizational metrics as well?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): So, we want to make sure that the events have an impact on engagement and retention. So, we want to know what's the event that took place did people get knowledge from that event for the ongoing career development and a place to network outside of their daily location? So, did they feel included? So, we send out a post event survey, which is fairly recent, and that data is critical in capturing the team member experience in their sentiment which tells us, you know, how people felt during the event. Did they feel a call of action at the end of the event or was it just something you showed up for? So, that post-event survey, previously it was sent on occasion. But now we send it after all events so that we can measure that impact on the same way across all the events. And then we take that information and share with our ERG Leads so they know if the events are hitting home or maybe there needs to be a little bit of change.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Yeah, and when you're seeing where it's like a little bit of change, how are you calibrating that back with like your ERG leaders, right? So, obviously you mentioned like the number of events you're doing, which is immense, right. So, there's tons of events that are happening, quarter over quarter, year over year and things like that. So, when you're getting that feedback what sort of that process look like of going back to your ERG leaders and saying, hey do we need to recalibrate or do we do more of these types of events? Any insights you can share there? You know, we get these questions a lot from our customers around, hey how are we calibrating, right? How are we making sure these aren't just happy hour events where everyone's just trying to go and have a good time and things like that, and we're actually providing business value as well as employee value in these events. So, any indication on how are you calibrating against some of that feedback you're getting and what does the process look like?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Right. So, for us we do a monthly meeting with our Employee Resource Group Leads and we talk about, you know, what are the events coming up so that they can collaborate but we also give feedback. My team is divided and are liaisons for each of the different ERGs. So, there's different levels of approval and we might talk about that a little bit later, but there's different levels of approval and each of our team liaisons works directly with our Employee Resource Group Leads.
So, for example our Black Professional’s Network Employee Resource Group has a liaison on our team – Maiia - and so Maiia does a great job of working and giving feedback after the event, right. What were some of the things we saw in the comments, what were some of the things we saw in the survey, so that the Employee Resource Groups can go back and say maybe this event didn't hit home where we thought it would. Maybe we need to make some changes or this is what our employees would like to see. So, that the Employee Resource Groups continue to provide content that is useful, you know, it's timely.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Yeah. So, you brought up a good point there, Rachee, around the keyword of approvals and things like that. So, I guess that kind of helps me segue into another topic that comes up a lot in our discussions in the industry around like governance of these events. You know, traditionally when we when we first started working with a lot of our customers, a lot of these events were sort of just kind of decentralized - do the events that you want to do, what you think is best for your members but then over time as our companies started to mature and they started to put more layers of processes and governance over top of these events they've been really looking for better ways to really ensure that the events being orchestrated are aligned to corporate values. That they are aligned to the various missions of either their ERG or the overall business.
And even detailing further into that like, you know, what the planning of the event, the budget, how much are we spending on these events, the Guest Speakers that are coming in, how are we looking at those Guest Speakers and making sure that you know they also mirror our corporate values and things like that. So, I'd love to pick your brain and go back and forth just around like that concept of approvals but even at a higher-level governance of these events. And maybe even historically like is this something FedEx always done or did it kind of start with like, hey just let the ERGs do what they the events they want to do, but then over time maybe there's some things that happen where you were like, hey we need to have a little tighter grip over these events. So, any sort of anecdotes you can share from there I think would be incredibly helpful for the audience.
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Yeah, I get a lot of questions on that as well and there are some challenges from an Employee Resource Group perspective. One is the policy and procedures - that's a common challenge, right. As an employee, we have our policies and procedures but also wanting to impact change and work with within what the mission is of that ERG. So, that's one challenge. And each of our ERGs has a mission statement that they look at consistently, you know, to make sure that they are hosting events, it's not like a party planning right. You know, this isn't a party planning group. There's a purpose for the Employee Resource Groups and they have a mission statement in addition to company policies that we follow.
Another challenge was the standardization of the flow of communication and processes so that we create more of a professional product for our team and can have a greater impact, you know. So, we want it to look like it came, you know, from a professional standpoint. And since our ERG leads have other jobs and responsibilities, this is a volunteer position, so, creating something that was consistent across all of the ERGs was a challenge. And then the other challenge is who is the target audience? So, sometimes defining who that target audience is for the ERGs overall.
So, what we have is we utilize a two-stage automated review process and I think you know how we use that process. But we utilize a template for event review. So, that way the information collected from our ERG leads is submitted in the same format from all 11 ERGs in Stage 1. And that includes the purpose, the goal, the intended audience, speakers, budget requests if there is any and ironically, not every event has a budget request or doesn't need budget to be a successful event.
So, then someone from our team, on the DEI team reviews the event and then coordinates with appropriate stakeholders. And that might be legal, that might be vetting a Guest Speaker, again budget review. And then after the liaison has completed Stage 1, they either approve the event or they disapprove the event. And if it's disapproved, the event returns to the Group Lead and detailing why. We want to give why because there's a reason why they wanted to host the event. So, if there's a reason why we want to go back and talk about it and maybe there's maybe it's just additional details that are needed before approval is granted.
So, then when the event is approved the request goes to Stage 2 for DEI manager review and this is where the final checks and balances happens just to ensure that the event adheres to our corporate policies procedures, is still in alignment with the DEI’s mission statement and maybe address any changes that may have come up since the initial request. And then once it's approved there the ERG can publish the event on a shared calendar and that assists the team in seeing all of the upcoming events in one place which goes back to the professionalism, we don't have to go look for the information the communication is there.
All of our ERGs have Executive Level Sponsors who attend and support and are even Guest Speakers for the events. And we don't have to twist their arm. They voluntarily, they’re happy to be there and that's a big asset in getting collaboration with our Employee Resource Groups so one very nice thing about the process is that it gives us an efficient way to add structure in professionally communicating events and really has helped our Leads to overcome some challenges in scheduling and then the outreach to the full FedEx team about the events because we want the whole team to know. It's not any good if it's just a specific department or area that knows. We want everybody on the FedEx Ground team to be able to participate in the events
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Right, absolutely and when it comes to that visibility component of it, right. So, you know traditionally when we start working a lot of our customers a lot of these events like as you mentioned they're kind of all over the place, right. Like some of them might be on Outlook, some of them might be you know on a third-party service like Eventbrite or something like that just depending on the nature of the event, some of them might be posted on like a SharePoint site or so forth. But in terms of like the visibility of the events and also trying to make sure that you know not even the Executive Sponsorship but everywhere down to maybe an Intern that just joined the organization knows where these events are happening, knows how to get into these events, knows like the topics of these events. How have you seen like the visibility of at least the FedEx Ground ERG events increase over time? Are you seeing more Executives attending? Are you seeing more folks from outside of the particular hosting ERG wanting to attend these events as well? Any anecdotes on that from your perspective there, Rachee?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): So, one of the things we look at in impact is the membership and how has the membership changed. And we've seen an increase in all levels of participation but not only participation but wanting to collaborate across events. Because now you know what's going on in some of the other ERGs. So, you see people at all levels attend, participate, comment, provide feedback, which is nice because it makes us all feel heard. Everybody's included, no one's afraid to share feedback.
What it also does is it gives us that professional look - there's a meeting invite, it's on our calendar, you know, if we want to exclude the full FedEx team and not just FedEx Ground we can do that as well. Many of the topics are the same. So, if we're talking about mental health that's important regardless of your position in the company or your title right or which operating company. So, we've seen an increase in that and those are some of the some of the data that we actually look at that we share with the ERG Leads as far as hosting that type of event.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Right. And have you seen a lot of your ERGs collaborating moving forward now? So, a lot of our customers you know, collaboration when it comes to ERGs is like kind of difficult - for one, there's two membership lists right. And more important than that let's say you're a part of one ERG and I'm a part of another ERG and I get an invite from your group, I might be like hey why'd I get this invite, right? I'm not a part of this group. And so, this has been something that we've been trying to work with our customers for quite a bit. Just to be able to ensure that - hey these events are true collaborative events in nature where any person who gets that invite knows exactly why they've been invited because it says, hey this is a collaborative event and so forth.
But the other thing I I'd like to pick your brain on Rachee, is like how do you see those impacting so seeing, you know, maybe your African-American Network and maybe a Women's ERG coming together and sharing, discussing ideas or topics and what do those ideas look like? Are you seeing more of that happening in the FedEx environment around ERG's pairing up? And then dovetailing off of that too, like how does that work from a governance standpoint as well, the budgets and whatnot? How are you looking at that from your purview?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): That's three questions, Maneet. We encourage our ERGs to collaborate because the invitations from, for example, our Women Moving Ground ERG, they send out an invitation to their team - their members and it just goes to their members but when they're collaborating now it goes to their members and the other ERG they are collaborating with. So, it increases the span of who is there.
I'll give you an example, our Women Moving Ground and our Men Leading Inclusively, two of our Employee Resource Groups, are planning an event where they are talking about allyship. So, when we send out an announcement on an event, both teams will get that information both members will get it and they can see the importance and who the ERG is that is hosting. So, the question isn't necessarily there of well who is hosting it and why am I getting it. You can see why it's right there and available. So, that's increased the attendance on the calls and then from there it increases the conversation around other opportunities for cause, other topics that they may want to hear about that's relative to both groups.
Even on the event I talked about, the Multicultural Book Club, our Book Drive I always say the book club, the book drive, more than 37000 books were collected. That was a collaboration across many of our Employee Resource Groups and that also brought attention to each of the individual groups that we have. Thus, increasing membership for all of them.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: As you've seen these events have evolved over time and they've become more paramount because now you're saying - hey we have a very professional look, these are being routed on centralized calendars and in the inboxes of employees. And I'm sure just at FedEx, I mean some of these groups might be huge, right, 5000 plus members per group. Have you seen the interaction with Leadership and Senior Executives in the organization? And are there particular metrics that they want to know about these events? Are they customers of that data, I guess you could you can look at it from that perspective? And if so, what are the key things that they're looking at in terms of - hey Rachee, we know you're doing all these fabulous events but like is there a so what factor here and any insights there Rachee from your end at least from the FedEx point of view?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): We love numbers. So, we love data and where's there going to be impact. So, absolutely. Each of our ERGs has a sponsor, an Executive Sponsor and we provide feedback to those sponsors. Not only do we provide feedback but the ERG Leads do as well. What do their events look like how, what's been the impact and what has been the engagement, how can we take this event and then share it and have an impact on our external community, external to our FedEx team and how does that tie.
One example of that is our Mental Health calls. So, our ERGs over the last year have hosted Mental Health calls. Mental health is extremely important right and making sure that people have that information but where do I what do I do like what are the next steps. And so, over the last year the ERGs have hosted Mental Health calls and this year our ERGs are taking those Mental health calls and stepping it up a level and those are shared with the entire network, not just inside their ERG but our Executive team gets on that and we share stories right. Having a common story that we can share in the team is very impactful. So, our ERG Leads and the Sponsors participate in those calls but we can also provide data on what was the impact and the impact is really important right. We don't want to have an event where there's 500 people on the call and everybody was like…when the call is over right. We want there to be a call of action. So, that they tell someone else this is a great event you know and this ERG is doing well.
Our Executive team also wants to know that. So, what is that we're doing and how is engagement improved, how is participation improved, here's a gap where we see that an ERG is maybe not participating, we don't have as high participation in this area of the company because on our metrics we can see where our members are. So, maybe we don't have as high of participation in that area of the company - what can we do to increase participation in that particular area? And that's also where we use the data and we can share that with our Executives.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Right and you know one thing I've always I've always noticed about ERG events is like they're really big, right? Hundreds of people are attending these events and is that a unique thing about within FedEx? At least with your ERG events versus maybe other corporate-wide events? Of course, you know, if there's a CEO Town Hall, then yeah that's going to be a pretty big event. But the ERG ones, you know, you start really looking at some of the numbers especially on the dashboards when you're looking at it you're like you know there's hundreds and hundreds of people that are showing up to these events. And is that sort of an anomaly just for FedEx or would you say even in your experience like just ERG events they just garner that type of attention and there's that much interest in the organization for people to say, hey let me take this time out of my day and you know go and attain these resources and things like that?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): What I find interesting about the ERG events is that these are volunteered, right? So, when they show up to an event that's being hosted, people have intentionally taken time to join the event, unlike if there's a call for your department, you are kind of expected to be there. So, when you have a high attendance at an ERG event, that someone took the time to attend, they took the time to accept the invitation, to log on, provide feedback. So, we really look at that and then that's where the difference comes in. That's why it's important that we look at the impact of the event, right. We look at even the title that they're sharing, does it attract interest? Does it encourage people to participate? Because that makes a difference and we work with our comms team to say, because I'm not a professional writer, so we get people who are to create titles so that people want to come to the event. Because there's a lot of information. You go back again were the employees engaged? Did they feel like they were they got some education from attending the event? Did they feel like they were able to network outside of the normal people they network on a daily basis, right? Attending ERG events you're able to, I'm in Indiana but I can network with people in California and are these events providing that opportunity.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: That makes total sense. I'm just keeping an eye on the clock here. We do have some questions in the chat that are directed for you Rachee. So, let me just jump into these. So, the first one is does your DEI group ever need legal to approve on any of these events?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Yes. Yeah, so part of our process is we, the DEI team is very familiar with our policies and procedures but we do submit for legal review just to make sure that we stay in compliance with the company objectives.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Gotcha and when you're interacting with legal are they just kind of looking at this from the lens of - hey we're not crossing any of our thresholds or risk thresholds or anything like that or are there other ways they're weighing in, in terms of privacy regulations that you might have to adhere to, what are you displaying about the event? Is it sort of like a one-point thing that legal is looking at or is it really like a matrix of things that they have to really analyze?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): So, the DEI team, my team really does all that during Level 1 (Stage1) just based on the policies and procedures and best practices that we share. So, we try to make it as easy for our legal team as possible and address anything that comes up from Level 1. Once we send it to our legal team, they're at an overview making sure that we are in compliance with company standards and policies and if there's any feedback at that point, they give us that feedback.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Perfect. All right, so just jumping into this next question here. So, I guess at a high level they just want to know could you give us an overview of the 11 ERGs at FedEx. Maybe not list out all 11 if you don't have them off the top of mind but maybe a couple of them if you would. But then there's a second part to that question that says do you ask for the automated process for all events initiatives or just key signature events? So, I guess that's a pretty good question there. So, is this just for the big signature events or are you running every single ERG event into the process as well?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): So, every single one of our events goes through that process and if it's a bigger, you know, regardless of the event, just that way we're consistent in our professionalism across all the events and how it's communicated and shared out so every event goes through and is looked at. And the more familiar the ERG Lead is with the process, the easier it is.
Okay and so you're going to test my knowledge on my memory. So, we've got an Asian and Pacific Islander Network, a Black Professional’s Network, EPIC which is Emerging Professionals Inspiring Change, enABLE which is enabling all employees, HAN - Hispanic Action Network, Men Leading Inclusively, Parents delivering Purple, Project Professionals Enablement League, Pride and Allies Network, Veterans Network and Women Moving Ground.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: There you go. That's how you know you're the leader of them. All right, so, we probably have time for one more question here. Let me just look through the list. All right, so how long does the approval process take and how far in advance does an ERG need to submit an event for approval?
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Good question. So, we actually have a process in place for our ERG Leads because we want to make sure that the event has enough time for it to get out in front of people to attend. So, once it's submitted, we usually ask for a week just to make sure that our team can get through the Level 1 and get to Level 2, and sometimes there's a there's a catch with that there's more research that needs to be done, more bases touched. So, usually a week is what we ask.
For our communications plan, we like to get everything out at least two weeks in advance. So that people can see it, if you share the week of people's schedules are different, you might be on vacation. So, to get the maximum participation we do have a communications plan in place that we share with our leads and we follow that plan.
Maneet Sarai [Teleskope]: Yeah. Perfect. Excellent. All right. So, for the audience, I know we are at time here we are capping the set at a 30-minute webinar. There are a couple other questions that we'll take note of and perhaps send them out to our panelists here for them to respond to and then we'll send a note out.
We do thank everyone for joining here. We had really good participation throughout the call. We will have a recording of this as well, which we'll distribute for folks who might have not been able to attend do the scheduling conflicts. But foremost, I just want to take a thank you for Rachee Powell for joining the webinar, spending some time on a Friday, of course just giving this insight because a lot of our customers, these are the questions that just like come to us, come throughout like the industry and things like that. So, sometimes hearing it firsthand from an actual practitioner is super helpful and just things that you can take back. So, Rachee, thank you so much for joining today and we really appreciate everyone for joining. Thanks a lot everyone. Really appreciate it.
Rachee Powell (FedEx Ground): Thank you.