April 24, 2024

Can our Employee Resource Group (ERG) own our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy?

<span id="test" class="kool-class" style="color: #00c0c3;" fs-test-element="test"><b>We explore why ERGs, whilst valuable allies, shouldn't bear the full weight of EDI strategy ownership.</b></span>

<span id="test" class="kool-class" style="color: #00c0c3;" fs-test-element="test"><b>Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are identity-based staff networks, typically forming around specific identities, such as race, religion, and disability, among others.</b></span> ERGs can play an important role in keeping equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) on the organisational agenda, as well as bringing numerous benefits to employees from a personal perspective. ERGs can have various purposes, but they will typically place a focus on:


<li>Providing a safe space for discussion of EDI-related issues</li>

<li>Raising awareness of, and supporting the planning of, EDI-related events</li>

<li>Advocating for improvements to the workplace experience</li>


It is important to remember that ERG members are typically volunteers who are passionate about driving positive change, dedicating additional time on top of their usual duties to support EDI efforts. This means that members are likely already juggling multiple commitments and responsibilities within their roles. Adding the weight of strategy development / ownership on top of existing commitments and responsibilities may detract from an employee’s ability to fully engage in their primary job functions, and may also hinder their capacity to contribute meaningfully to EDI initiatives. Employees should not be held accountable for the delivery of an organisational EDI strategy, especially where this sits outside of their primary roles and responsibilities.

To put this into context, we would not expect an employee working in finance with a passion for marketing to own the organisational marketing strategy along with other colleagues who share this passion. We should not expect this of employees who are passionate about EDI.

A passion for EDI, while crucial for driving progress, is often not enough to drive meaningful change at a systemic level - this requires resources, authority, and expertise.<span id="test" class="kool-class" style="color: #00c0c3;" fs-test-element="test"><b>A sustainable and effective EDI strategy needs collaboration across departments, buy-in from leadership, and often external consultation to ensure alignment with best practices and industry standards.</b></span> ERGs may lack the institutional power and access to decision-making processes necessary to enact widespread change. Placing the burden of strategy ownership on ERGs could inadvertently set them up for failure, fostering a sense of frustration and disillusionment among members.

Furthermore, ERG members are not generally representative of all roles within the organisation. In this sense, strategy ownership could lead to certain organisational goals or departmental insights being overlooked.

So how can organisations embed a more holistic approach?

Leveraging the expertise of external consultants can provide invaluable guidance on your organisation’s EDI journey. The Equal Group’s EDI 365 service ensures ongoing access to our team of consultants, equipping your teams with specialised knowledge, resources and strategic insight to support transformational change.

<span id="test" class="kool-class" style=“color: #2d3047;" fs-test-element="test"><b>So how do you effectively make use of your ERG and when should you consider hiring an EDI lead?</b></span>

To discuss how EDI 365 could benefit your organisation please book a FREE consultation with one of our expert consultants.