top of page

Webinar on ERGs in the Americas & Europe: Key Differences

Moderator: Viktoria Nevska, Strategic Account Executive, Business Development, Teleskope


Panelists: Katie Wesner, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager at Molson Coors Beverage Company

Sarah Winship, Inclusion and Diversity Director, EMEA and APAC at Molson Coors Beverage Company

Key topics: ERGs at Molson Coors, ERG Expansion Thought Process, Key differences between ERG Programs in the Americas and Europe, Key takeaways for D&I leaders undertaking a similar journey, Best Practices for ERG Management, Challenges, ERG member and leader engagement, Impact of ERGs and more.

Anchor 1

Webinar Transcript: ERGs in the Americas & Europe: Key Differences

00:00 Introduction


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]:  Thanks a lot everyone for attending our webinar. This will be a series of webinars that we will be hosting at Teleskope featuring some of our customers and / or industry participants who have experience in the D&I and ERG space. 


This particular webinar is focused on how to successfully expand your ERG programs across multiple continents and with that said let me do a quick introduction of myself and Teleskope and give you a bit of context text there and then we'll pass around the mic to our webinar panelists. My name is Victoria Nevska. I'm an Account Executive here at Teleskope on the Business Development team and the whole mission behind Teleskope is to build an all-in-one DE&I platform that would allow organizations to manage, run and measure all of their various programs in one solution. We have the privilege of working with a tremendous portfolio of customers and some of them are featured in our webinar today. I'll be asking a series of questions from a moderation standpoint and helping facilitate the conversation. 


So, today we're here to learn how Molson Coors successfully expanded its ERG program across the Americas and Europe. We'll have two expert panelists discuss key differences, challenges and wins with implementing an ERG program in two continents and share insights from their experience. Our panelists today are Katie Wesner and Sarah Winship. Katie, I'll pass the mic to you for an introduction.


01:30 Panelist introductions 


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: Lovely. Thank you so much Victoria, thanks for having us here today. My name is Katie Wesner. I am a DEI Program Manager for Molson Coors Beverage Company and I am based here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so representing our Americas side of our business.

Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: And Sarah would you like to introduce yourself?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yes, thank you Victoria, thank you for having me. I'm Sarah Winship. I'm the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director for the EMEA and APAC of Molson Coors Beverage Company. I am sitting in a very small town in the northeast of England called Durham but have responsibility for the whole of the EMEA and APAC region.


02:25 Overview of ERGs at Molson Coors 


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you for your introduction. So I'll go ahead and get started. Can you please share a brief overview of the ERG programs in America and Europe at Molson Coors to help our viewers understand the program better? Katie, would you like to go first?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: Sure, absolutely! So ERGs in the Americas have really been in existence in one form or another for approximately 19 years. So, when we started, from my understanding, I was not here 19 years ago. From my understanding, our ERGs really started as Diversity Councils and sort of morphed into more of an ad hoc, as needed Focus Group approach before really transitioning into the ERGs that we have in place today. I would also say that some of our larger ERGs, so some of our bigger ERGs that we have here in the Americas are really functioning more as Business Resource Groups but for naming purposes we've really decided to maintain the ERG naming convention across the board for all of our groups. 


We have 12 ERGs today. We have close to 2,000 employees, unique employees, who are members of our ERGs across the Americas so that includes US, Canada and LATAM. And we have over 50 Chapters across those 12 ERGs, many of which are based in our corporate locations but also our physical brewery locations across US and Canada. We are also starting to see some growth and engagement across our field chapters, starting to see Northwest Arkansas, we have a chapter in our field location there, we have a field location in Miami. So, really excited to start to see we're bubbling up and growing and moving across outside of some of those walls of our formal physical locations that we have in the US.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you. And Sarah, do you have any comments as well?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah. So, our ERGs are much younger because we are much younger as a division. The EMEA APACdivision only really came into being a few years ago, again before I joined the business. But they are already having a really big impact. So, like North America we started out with groups that had quite a broad DEI Focus. So, we had Inclusion Forums that were made up of a number of DEI ambassadors who work together on a whole range of DEI activities across a broad agenda. And to a certain extent that does still happen. But towards the end of 2022, in Western Europe, we really felt that it was time that we enhanced those to form more distinct ERGs with specific focus areas that related to the different dimensions of diversity. So, we went out to those people who had already been involved in the various Inclusion Forums and we asked people to step up and volunteer to lead in some newly formed ERGs.  And we were really pleased to have several people come forward. 


So, we started with an ERG that was focused on gender and one that was focused on the LGBTQ+ community. And we had a couple of really fantastic people step up to lead on that, you know, people who were from different parts of the business, they weren't HR folks but they were really really passionate about enhancing our culture and making sure that everybody could thrive really. And following on from the success of those in 2023, we launched another three ERGs one focuses on age, call it Generations and it's looking at the differences across generations; one focusing on disability and another which focuses on ethnicity and culture. And in 2024, we're going to be  adding an additional ERG with a focus on well-being. But what I would say is that we do recognize that whilst we have those different focuses there are many many intersections across the diversity demographics and the Leads of each Group do work really really well together to make sure that we are advancing inclusion for everyone.


06:36 ERG Expansion Thought Process


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Absolutely. Thank you for sharing the details on those programs. So, you were mentioning the ERG program in Europe began much later than in America. What was the expansion thought process like with those programs? Sarah, would you like to go first? 


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah I can. So, the two parts of the business do operate quite separately. So, we didn't really think about it in terms of expanding what was already in place but we just knew that the next stage of the journey from EMEA APAC certainly would require a lot more focus, a different approach to hearing the various voices of our employees. But having said that, the North America ERGs were absolutely fantastic in terms of supporting us. So, they have been brilliant for bouncing ideas off. We got a couple of the Leads from the North America ERGs to come and talk to our newly established ERGs in Western Europe and to answer the questions that they had. You know, a lot of the questions were around the logistics , how do you just get started, how do you get people on board and North America being really great in terms of offering support and sharing that information with us. 


I think that because of the different geographies we do have very very different social, political landscapes. We have different differences in terms of our legislative framework. So, there are some very very obvious differences in terms of the areas of focus of our groups but the support has been brilliant. And of course there are always issues where we do want to collaborate, you know, celebrating international events and raising awareness. So, it's been fabulous for us to be able to to gain resources and rather than reinvent the wheel. And we've also linked in with ERGs from other organizations as well actually. So, within the sector and outside of the sector, we're also sharing our journey with others. One of our key business strategic pillars is creating a world to celebrate. So, we think that that's applicable outside the organization as well as inside.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you and then Katie did you have any comments?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: I have. Honestly I think it's just been a lovely opportunity to work together in this space. I know that Sarah came to Molson Coors with such an overwhelming immense amount of knowledge and work in this space ERGs, DEI holistically. So, for us to be able to help support their journey as they were getting up and running and provide that guidance and be a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and share thoughts with and then also collaborate. Find those spaces across the globe where we can come together and recognize moments that we all share that we all celebrate, that we all honor together, that has been a really lovely opportunity for us to all come together as one organization even though we're spread so far across the globe.

Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you. And then Sarah I just wanted to follow up on that one question so you were mentioning having an existing program in place, did it help to build on top of that existing program? You mention not reinventing the wheel. 


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: It helped definitely with things like understanding how the ERGs should structure themselves. So, our ERGs in Western Europe are much much smaller in terms of membership. But I think it's really important that we recognize that our leaders are doing this on top of the day job. And being able to build on what North America already have, in place in terms of a governance, structure for ERGs, in terms of a playbook that we could steal with pride, has been incredibly helpful. 


10:32 What are the key differences between ERG Programs in the Americas and Europe?


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Yes, fantastic! And so continuing on the topic of one program size does not fit all, what would be the key differences between the two programs? Katie, would you like to comment first?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: Yeah, you know, I think we look at our ERGs, right, they ERGs generally speaking have been inside of organizations in the US for quite some time. When we think about the ever-evolving landscape of race relations in our country and North America holistically, we think about the lack of safe spaces for marginalized community members inside of corporate America. So, our ERGs I think have evolved over the course of time, over the course of many years, as our changing dialogue happens, as the organizational shifts have occurred, as we've refocused, I think probably in and out of focus, as we see happening right now. DEI efforts become more intentional and are really intentionally built into work that we're doing beyond the ERGs. 


It's a part of our fabric of being, it's a part of who we are. So, really we have had the opportunity to build upon the grassroots work that our ERGs really started at such a different level. So, I'd say you know maturity wise, right, like if you're like ERGs as a whole have just been around a little bit longer here in the States and in North America. So from that perspective I would say that's where we differ most at this moment in time.

Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Absolutely. And Sarah did you want to add anything onto that?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah, I would agree with everything that Katie just said. But I think just to build on it, you can't get away from the fact that we have differences simply because of our geographies. You know, I've already said culturally, socially, we are very very different politically, legislatively and it's important that we respect that and it’s important that we recognize that what works in one place doesn't necessarily work in another. And sitting in Europe that's even more relevant because, you know, we have a large geographical footprint. In Europe, we cover a lot of different countries where that's even more true. So what works in one place might not necessarily work in another. 


And for that reason it is really important that we do get people on the ground to lead our ERGs and while that's not a different for us, you know we both North America and and Europe do have people on the ground leading our ERGs, so they can share the stories really help us understand what the challenges are for different people across the business and recognizing that geography is going to have an impact but also just differences in business culture across any organization are going to mean that things are different. So, yeah, you know, it's important that we do recognize those differences and that we make sure that everybody has a voice.

13:37 Key takeaways for D&I leaders undertaking a similar journey


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Absolutely! And what should D&I leaders keep in mind if they're going to undertake a similar journey? Katie, would you like to go first?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: It's a big question. So, from my personal experience I think the the biggest thing and the biggest sort of aha moment that I've been a part of when you're starting an ERG journey, when you're starting a broader DEI journey, because every organization is at a very different place In this moment, in this movement is to really have the most open and brutally honest, and that can be really really hard, conversation with your Leaders with your stakeholders about where your organization is on the journey. So, where they are, where they want to be, what is the reasoning for wanting to be there, why do you want to be there, what are you doing this for and is there an interest in having ERGs be a really important part of that journey. So, I think it's good to have a very real and sometimes that gets tough in organizations, to have truly transparent conversations with folks who are part of this process.


Beyond kind of what you might be hearing grassroots, beyond those leader and stakeholder engagement conversations, culture assessments are such an incredible tool, if it's an option for an organization to consider because it does a really great job, anonymously, honing in on what feels good in the organization, what maybe feels really not great in the organization, are there opportunities that the organization has around career advancement, professional development, community engagement, where are those spaces or the organization really could use some support and some help. When you think about the broader DEI perspective, when you're planning a DEI process strategy, whatever the case may be, how are ERGs able to kind of jump into that space and help support the priorities of the organization and the DEI strategy as a whole.

One of the things that's magical about our ERGs is that, I call it one of their superpowers, is that when things get tough, when people aren't feeling the best, they might come to the ERG members first. So, honestly like ERGs are such an incredible resource for us and really arm of our work but you really have to when you're developing a DEI strategy and considering whether ERG should be a part of that or not either from the beginning or in a future state I think really important for you collectively to outline what those strategic priorities are, provide that guidance to the ERGs so everything the ERGs are connecting right into what the DEI priorities are because then they all collectively are working towards that goal together. And it's a really easy and effective way to see how ERGs are such an important lever and tool in that toolbox as we look at DEI across the organization.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you. And Sarah would you like to build upon that?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah, I think that point about really understanding where you are as an organization where you want to be is crucial. You know, you can't just look and say well, what are other organizations doing? What is Google doing? What's Facebook doing? Because the issues in your organization are going to be very, very different for those other organizations and yes by all means share good practices but really get to the point of what's important for you as an organization. 


I think the other thing that's really important is Senior Leadership commitment. ERGs are a phenomenal tool, you know, they can really help leverage the diversity within an organization. But unless they have the support of senior leaders within the organization then they're going to constantly feel frustrated. They're not going to be able to feel that they can really affect change and they're not going to feel listened to. 


I think another important thing is the people who lead our ERGs,  the members they have a full-time day job. They are doing this because they are passionate, not only about diversity, not only about inclusion, but they're passionate about the business as well. They want to see the business succeed. So, remembering that they have a day job and making sure that we recognize and value the contribution that they're making to the organization is incredibly important.


18:10 Best Practices for ERG Management


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Yes and so let's dive into the programs a bit deeper. What are some of your ERG program best management practices?  Sarah, would you like to go ahead for this question?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah. So, I think that you know this leads on very very well from the previous question. Making sure that the ERG has a very clear purpose, that it has very very clear goals. It's important for several reasons but actually one of the most important is so that we can measure success. So, if you can demonstrate how an ERG is adding value to the business it can really help unlock lots of those things that we've already been talking about such as access to, buy-in from senior leaders. It helps to make the case for resources. It helps grow membership, it helps grow engagement. So I think that's the first thing: clear purpose, clear goals.


I think and again it links to some of the other things that we've been talking about. ERGs have got to be ready to adapt. Katie has already alluded to, kind of, the changes that we've seen over the past decade, two decades. The world is constantly changing and we need to recognize the fact that the needs of members change too and that might be in response to internal events, it might be in response to external events, events they might be local, national, global event,  political events, social events, social change, the list is actually it's endless. And being ready and willing to adapt is going to mean that an ERG remains relevant and it adds value to its members and that's going to really help the organization adapt to change as well.


And then again, as I've already said ERGs are run by really passionate people. They are passionate about inclusion, they're passionate about the organization, they give a huge amount on top of their day job and I don't feel like I can emphasize that point enough. It's voluntary, and ensuring that they have a governance structure within the ERG so that different people are responsible for different elements and accountable for different roles within the group, it's going to make sure that one person's not burdened. So, yes the ERG lead is very very important but who's supporting them with membership, who's supporting them with communications, who's supporting them with events, who's supporting them in just hold it all together. Really really crucial that we help and support them in that and as I say recognize that this is an additional job.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you and then Katie would you like to build on that?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: So beautifully stated. I think echoing everything that Sarah said, absolutely the senior level leaders' support is absolutely imperative to their success, to their support. We need to see our senior most leaders actively engaged in our ERGs. We have our senior level leaders as Executive Sponsors of all of our groups in the Americas and that's for a reason, right? That's on purpose to make sure that everybody can see our senior most leaders in active, champion and advocate spaces for our ERGs and standing up and promoting and supporting and doing everything they can to help navigate through, around, over walls that may come up. It's pretty amazing to see how senior level engagement can really help move ERG priorities and work forward.


That governance structure piece is such a big piece of the puzzle guardrails too. so some folks that are coming into this work for the very first time. They've ever done it before, they've never led people before. And leading folks in a volunteer capacity, the volunteer above passion volunteer role if you will, above and beyond their day job is kind of a different thing that, you know, we need to help provide them with tools to grow professionally in a little bit of a different capacity. 


What do we need to think about from a governance structure? Do you need multiple layers of leadership or are you going to be successful with one main leader with the support of an executive sponsor? Do you need to consider smaller chapters for folks that are based in multiple locations or different geographies to help answer the needs that might arise in those locations because of where they are and then understanding sort of what the priorities are. As I mentioned a little bit earlier, you know, if you have a broader DEI strategy, making sure that the ERG priorities are leading up into that strategy. Are you looking at Marketplace? Are you looking at Workforce? Are you looking at community engagement? What is a priority for you as an organization and how can the ERGs really support that work? Because then if they're doing that if those connections are intentionally being made you can absolutely see how ERGs become true champions and partners and activators of the DEI broader strategy, which is really incredible when all of those things come together and work really well together.


23:14 Most challenging aspects of managing ERGs


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you for sharing your best practices. So, let's change topics and talk about challenges. What are the most challenging aspects of managing ERGs across the globe and in general? And so let's start in the Americas and start with Katie first.


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: That's a great question. I think Sarah has already alluded to it a little bit and in her previous response. I think, for us, recently within the last, let's say, four years of life, managing, advocating, supporting, being as empathetic as possible during some really heavy moments. We've worked through, collectively, some really heavy times in the US in our world and as I mentioned earlier one of those ERG superpowers is that they're sort of that first stopping point. Often times when folks are feeling that heaviness, when folks are feeling really unsure about what's happening in the world, if a specific community is being impacted in a in a negative way, oftentimes we'll see our ERG members come to our ERG leaders first or come to their the leadership teams first to say like this is hard, this is heavy, I'm carrying this with me outside of work but I can't just take that burden off of me when I come into work. So, how are we talking about that inside the organization? How are we supporting our people? And so I think one of the challenges that we see is that our leaders carry that heaviness. They carry, often times, those emotions of all of our members, of the folks who are working in our organization and coming to work with those feelings sort of inside of them and experiencing them around them. So, I think having that transparent line of communication. 

Our ERG leaders know that our team is here. And that our team is going to go to any senior leader that we have to to have the next conversation to talk about ‘Okay this is how our people are feeling’. We're going to share that feeling, we're going to talk about what that means for us internally, how do we address that internally, how do we move through those moments, can we bring senior leaders into conversations with our ERG Leaders with our ERG members to share their perspective. 


I know that some of our ERGs feel like sometimes we don't move fast enough. Sometimes we don't say something quick enough. There's so much happening on the backend and so many other conversations happening that I think we are the middle humans, you know, to be able to share that with them and say ‘Here's what's going on in the background and know that we're working through all of these things’. That there's so many things that come when something feels really hard. 

So, how are are we supporting not only our leaders, how are we supporting our members, but how are we also continuing to push ourselves forward on our collective DEI journey across Molson Coors is something that I think we work through on a pretty regular basis, because things happen in our world that we need to work through on a pretty regular basis. We might not always get it right and we recognize that I think what matters to us is that we own the moment when it happens We talk and move through it together and we recognize that we are on this journey so while we may not get it right one time, we are absolutely learning from those moments and taking those learnings into where we go next with this conversation.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you, Katie. Sarah, would you like to build upon that as well?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah, you know Katie has just really articulated brilliantly what I think the challenge is for not just the Americas but globally in my experience, not just in Molson Coors but in other organizations as well. And she also touched on, kind of, one of the things that I think is important in terms of how we manage to overcome those challenges and that's in education. Making sure that everybody feels that they have a voice and that we are actively listening and that we want to help and that we can help. Education is so so so important. And that's when ERGs can really really come into their own. Because for me, the sharing of personal stories, the sharing of experiences, it's incredibly powerful stories. They really help us all to make sense of the world. They help us to connect with people, they give us that emotional connection, even people who are different from us and actually in telling those stories and sharing those stories and having those open and honest safe conversations, it can really help connect us, it can help us find common ground in our differences.


28:02 How to keep ERG members and leaders engaged?


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you Sarah. Now changing topics to engagement, how do you keep ERG leaders and ERG members engaged? Katie, would you like to go first?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: Sure, so, I think what's really great about our US ERGs, sort of how they've morphed over time, developed over time is they really have quite a bit of autonomy to define what engagement looks like based on their location. I can't tell our team members who sit in Albany, Georgia what feels right, what appeals to them, what engages them, what excites them about getting involved with an ERG? Because I don't sit there. I sit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So, I think it's an opportunity for us to let the ERGs have that autonomy to make those decisions based on what feels good and feels right for folks in their various spaces. I think it's something we collectively do. So, it could be a volunteer event because that's what feels really great, it could be attending a Festival together, we have you know food truck events that happen. But, you know, we really leave it up to those individual ERGs to say this is what feels good for us.


You know, in the US we try to do a monthly cadence of meetings within the leadership team. So, we bring our leaders together on a regular basis to really share sort of broader organizational updates of things that are happening that are coming from the DEI team, events that are taking place that we want them to know about, to share with their members. It's also an opportunity for us to bring in folks to talk about what's happening inside of other functions within the organization. But it also, which I love, brings each of those Group Leaders together on a regular cadence to talk about what's happening across groups.


So, when we think about engagement right we think about collaborating, intersectionality. Sarah mentioned the importance of intersectional conversations earlier. So, how are we making sure that we not only, kind of, have that autonomy but we can see what everybody else is doing. So, if there's something that you know our Black ERG is doing, BEV is our Black ERG, that the BEV ERG is doing, that LAGER LGBTQ+ ERG are doing but those things can come together and coincide. Like how powerful is that, to see those moments happen. So, we're really really focused trying to focus as much as we can on collaboration while also giving folks the freedom to to determine what makes the most sense and what feels right for their specific location.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you and Sarah would you like to build on that?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah, I think people feel engaged when they feel valued, when they can see how they are contributing to the success of an organization. And ERGs can help us in terms of success of our organization and they should be, they can really drive your DEI strategy and your DEI strategy should be really really closely linked with your business strategy. So, showing them how they are adding value is really important. We've talked about the importance of senior level commitment and if you have that commitment then the leaders of the various ERGs they get visibility they get exposure across the whole of the organization beyond their, kind of part, of the business. They get the personal and the professional development that they might not otherwise have had access to and that in itself can be very very engaging for people who sit on the, kind of, leadership committees of the ERGs.

And then in terms of the members of the various ERGs, demonstrating what the organization is doing as a result of the conversations that they're having that, again, can be very very powerful. How are they as members contributing to changes in culture, how are they contributing to changes in policy or process, how are they contributing overall to the success of the organization? And when they can feel that value, when they can feel and see the contribution that they are making, that is really really going to drive engagement. It's going to make them feel like they are making a difference. And ultimately that's going to make them more engaged in the future, want them to continue with that.


32:17 How do ERG members respond to events and initiatives based on their location?


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Absolutely. And are there any insights comparing the Americas and Europe as to how members respond to particular events and initiatives based on their location? 


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: So,I think yes. You know in Europe, we have very different, we spread across a number of countries and what might be important in some of those countries is different at any one time. So, and also I think the employee base as well will respond to very different things. So, you know for some members of our employee community, you know, free pizza means everything whereas for others actually they're not interested in free pizza. They want to be able to show that they have really changed something. 


You know, for our, we call them We Are Proud, our LGBTQ+ ERG in Western Europe, the very very simple thing of having a Pride flag flying during Pride month, it was a first for us, we had it outside our breweries, we had it outside of our kind of main UK office, and that was a really defining moment for that group. They could see that they made a difference and yes, there was some merch, yes people got lanyards but the one thing that really really everybody in that group was talking about was the flag flying and actually that flag is still flying because as a business we saw how important it was to that group of people not just for the Pride Month but for the whole 365 days a year. So, it's still flying. So, yeah I think there are people who will respond to things differently depending on where they sit in the organization, be that in terms of physical location or the function that they sit in and what's important to them as a group at that time depending on what else is going on in the world.

Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: And Katie, would you like to build on that?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: I would echo everything that Sarah said. I mentioned it a little bit earlier, too, I think you know had the opportunity to really empower our groups to say like this is what feels right for this group at this time, in this location. And you know we've seen Groups in our brewery locations, we are on a three shift schedule and so you know we have Groups recognize the fact that we need to be present to celebrate a moment. Our Latino Hispanic ERG, Salud, did an event for Dia de los Muertos at the end of October and they actually were in our Brewery here in Milwaukee at 6 o'clock in the morning for shift change. They were there at 2-3 o'clock in the afternoon for shift change and then they were there at 11 o'clock at night for shift change, right. So, they recognize that it looks different and that that celebration happened very differently at our corporate location which is literally just up the hill. So, you know, there was a, you know, brunch, celebration or whatever the case may be. 


So, I think it's understanding that different things are going to resonate differently. It could be a free treat, it could be a free cup of coffee as you're going into work, it could be swag that you get to wear and show your pride but the example of the Pride flag I've seen that in my previous organization as well. Really having the ability to show that support and that level of love and humanity for people inside of our organization is it goes such a long way for folks to feel like they truly belong and are safe in our spaces which is just really overwhelming in such a powerful way to see happen in the moment.


36:06 How are ERG leaders supported and recognized for their work?


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you. I loved hearing the story about the flag. How are ERG leaders supported and recognized for their work? Sarah, would you like to go first?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: So, I think, you know, I've worked in a number of organizations and the way in which organizations reward their leaders varies. You know, sometimes it might be financial incentives or rewards. In Europe, at the moment, it is very much through that visibility and exposure that they are gaining. This year we will be building a specific goal into the goals for ERG leaders so that it can be demonstrated through the performance process. So, I think that visibility that they're getting, the access to different opportunities, you know, that we have so, each of our ERGs leads sit on our Western Europe DEI Council which is chaired by our Managing Director and it has senior representation from across all business functions.


So, we have people, who are ERG leaders, who, you know, have never met the Managing Director. Yet here they are really challenging him and I think that a really lovely thing about our DEI Council is that there is no hierarchy once you get into that meeting we are all on an equal footing. So, they really can challenge him, they can tell him that he is wrong or they can ask him to make changes and he really really listens to them. And that exposure, that kind of personal development, I think is a huge reward, a huge benefit for all of the ERG leaders. As well as just getting them exposure to different parts of business, learning about different parts of business learning, you know, little things like how our financial processes work, how you navigate just the logistics of an organization. It's again a huge development opportunity for some of our ERG Leaders.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you. And Katie would you like to build upon that 


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: Absolutely. So, everything that Sarah just said 100,000%. Also for the US groups and our leaders back in 2022, late ‘22 and into ‘23, we really focused on how we're thanking, how we're recognizing our ERG leaders, not just from a recognition perspective but also a retention perspective. So, we think about the leaders who are in these ERG leadership roles, we know that they are engaged in this work, the DEI work absolutely. We know that they are passionate about the specific community that they're representing in their ERG leadership role and we know that they care a whole lot about Molson Coors, which is pretty amazing. So, we want them to stick around, we want to keep growing them and see them flourish and grow inside of our organization.


So, in 2023 we rolled out sort of this new expanded recognition package for our US ERG leaders. There is a financial component so as we we started to look at benchmarking we started to see that a lot of organizations were stepping into the space of financially compensating their ERG leaders in some way shape or form because as Sarah mentioned at the outset of this conversation, this is a job on top of a job in many ways. So, we actually have gone the path of providing, doing a restricted stock unit grant and that's our ERG National Leaders and then some of our Chapter Leaders and Committee Leaders are also eligible to be nominated for a grant on an annual basis.


We also have focused on offering professional development opportunities. So, when we think about, we have so many associations, we have so many conferences, we have so many things that sort of pop up through our team, through our community relations team, through our talent acquisition team on an annual basis. What a cool opportunity to take advantage of some of those seats that we have in those spaces and invite our ERG leaders to participate in those. So, not only just professional development but also sort of that personal development component as well that we're thinking about.


The other thing we did too and Sarah mentioned a little bit on the visibility of senior leaders. My personal belief is that that's one of the most amazing parts of being an ERG leader role is that cross functional visibility especially at the highest levels within an organization that you normally wouldn't get to like sit down and have a conversation with your CEO or your CFO and our ERG leaders have that chance which is really cool. So, we actually started this past year that each ERG National Leader has an opportunity to have an annual meeting with our CEO and our CHRO. So, they actually sit down with both of them and have a conversation and share a little bit more about what their group has been up to, what some of their proudest moments are, what their why is, why are they doing this work, why are they engaged as a leader in the ERG. 


And those stories and those conversations I had the incredible honor of sitting in on those conversations, goodness, like they were just so powerful and I think the amount of feedback we got back from everybody who participated in those chats was, how thankful and grateful they were for the chance to get to know each other. In not like an overwhelmingly scary way, in a very human way. It was a pretty cool thing so we are gonna kind of morph it for next year but we're for I guess this year 2024 now but we're gonna keep doing it because we got such great feedback about that process. So, those are some of the things that we have instituted recently to help continue to support our ERG leaders and recognize them for all of the amazing work that they're doing.


42:02 What impact have the ERG programs had on employee experience and workplace culture?


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: That's a fantastic process. Thank you. So, let's move on to employee experience. What impact have the ERG programs had on employee experience and workplace culture? I know you may have touched on some of these earlier. Sarah, would you like to go first?


Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah. So, I think one of the brilliant things about ERGs is whilst they are there for their members and do a phenomenal amount for their members, their activity actually touches on everybody in the organization whether they are members of an ERG or not. They're really really uniquely positioned to be a voice across the whole of the organization. They are phenomenal in terms of providing learning experience, awareness events and they really help create a forum where everybody can engage, where everybody can learn and ultimately everybody's going to benefit from that. So, the benefits to employees goes beyond membership of the ERG. I would say they also provide a really safe space, a sense of belonging for people. They provide a space for people to connect with and engage with other people who have similar life experiences. And if you have really highly functioning ERGs they're going to EMB boost they're going to boost employee retention recruitment, Katie’s already alluded to that. They are going to drive innovation, they are going to ultimately impact on profitability, they can help connect an organization to its customers, to its consumers they can provide Insight they can identify growth opportunities and all of those things ultimately are going to be positive for the employee experience and for the overall workplace culture.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Absolutely. And Katie, do you have any comments to add to that?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: Yeah, you know, I think Sarah has shared some of my key pieces, right, like that safe space, a community, providing a community within a community inside of our organization really providing us a collectively with an environment and a safe space to understand the lived experiences of others while also building your personal and professional network across the globe. I mean, the fact that like we were able, between Sarah and I, we were able to connect humans who live in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Chicago Illinois and humans who live in London together to learn from one another like how amazing is that! Like we would have never met each other. I mean Sarah and I have never actually physically met each other in person. But I think it's just such this powerful way to expand your network and get to know humans and their lives in very different and meaningful ways.


And it's really powerful to see these these moments come to life. Much of the work in DEI we talk about, it's a marathon not a sprint. It's slow and steady sometimes progress doesn't happen as quickly as we might want it to happen just by nature of the work. So, when we see those small moments I'm a really big fan of celebrating the little wins and the big wins are those aha moments or those moments of connection happening across all dimensions of diversity through something that our ERGs have created and set into motion. It really sparks this loveliness in our people and encourages really all of us to to be really much more intentional with our words and our thoughts and our actions and honestly you we really hope that this makes a positive impact. That these moments really make a positive impact on us in the workplace and our workplace culture and they are and we're seeing that but we also I shouldn't say but and we also hope that that trickles out into the world around us, right. like it's so important that we all feel it here but it's also important for us to take what we're feeling here and hopefully spread that love to everybody around us when we're out moving around the world outside of the walls of our organization as well.


46:20 Any concluding thoughts that you would like to share with the DEI community members across the globe?


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Definitely and are there any concluding thoughts that you would like to share with the DEI community members across the globe? Sarah, would you like to go first?

Sarah Winship [Molson Coors]: Yeah, I think that the final point I would make is around the impact that ERGs can have on any business. They can be real true partners in activating a DEI strategy and as I've already said if your DEI strategy is a part of your business strategy which it absolutely should be then their value is immense. And I often think of them actually as a small army marching behind me. My successes are their successes and you know I often stand on their shoulders and I think that a time when resources are stretched and the DEI professional community, let's face it we are we are facing significant challenges at the moment, I think that ERGs are more important than they ever have been in helping us really forge those inclusive communities and and and making the world a better place.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Absolutely. Thank you. And then Katie do you have any final comments?


Katie Wesner [Molson Coors]: What I love about this work, that's an honor and a privilege to do each and every day, is that we collectively, our ERG members, leaders, our DEI teams, the small and mighty DEI teams, are true change makers. And we are really focused on how we can transform our cultures to be more inclusive and to be places where everyone feels like they truly belong and I echo Sarah's sentiments so wholeheartedly because I often refer to our ERGs as the like right arm of our team. Because there are so many things that we are able to accomplish because they are willing and have the the brave and courageous space to stand up and ask why or ask why not and truly challenge us as an organization to say, well, yeah, we we may have been doing that forever but why do we keep doing it that way, maybe there's a better way for us to to do that work now.


And I think watching that happen and being a participant in that work has just been, gosh, it's such an amazing beautiful time to,  while challenging, absolutely, we have a lot of headwinds in this space right now and have for years and I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. And we recognize that and I think we all are overwhelmingly committed to standing beside each other and working through those overwhelming moments together because we already have and it's really a powerful time to see us all continuing to do that and stand up in spaces that get really heavy and get really hard and do it all together.


Viktoria Nevska [Teleskope]: Thank you so much. Thank you Katie, thank you Sarah for participating in our panel discussion. Thank you to our viewers as well. I hope everyone has a great day.

bottom of page