April 24, 2024

How to effectively make use of your Employee Resource Group?

<span id="test" class="kool-class" style="color: #00c0c3;" fs-test-element="test"><b>Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) serve as vital forums in fostering inclusivity and belonging in the workplace, providing a safe space for discussion and raising awareness.</b></span> In this blog, we explore how organisations can make effective use of their ERGs, pursuing an approach underpinned by collaborative engagement, executive sponsorship, and thoughtful recognition.

<b>Establish clear Terms of Reference (ToR)</b>

A ToR framework can be used to set the parameters for any future ERG relationships. A well-constructed ToR framework can help to establish boundaries and provide clarity to members as to what is expected of them. When drafting your ToR, you may wish to consider:


<li>The general structure of the sessions, including the frequency and timing of meetings;</li>

<li>How the ERG will communicate its aims and objectives to the rest of the organisation;</li>

<li>How leaders are selected for the ERG;</li>

<li>Engagement with the leadership team;</li>

<li>Allocation of ERG budget</li>


When establishing a ToR framework, it is also important to understand the role of intersectionality in ERGs. EDI is inherently cross-cutting and intersectional - individuals may align their identities with multiple demographic groups and may wish to join several ERGs in recognition of this. When considering how best to reflect this in your organisation, consider providing a road-mapping template or offering support in setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help employees with the strategic aspects of coordinating a new network.


Ensure your approach to engaging with your ERGs is underpinned by collaboration. ERGs can serve as valuable sounding boards - providing feedback, insights, and grassroots perspectives to inform the development and implementation of your organisation's EDI strategy. Being collaborative also means respecting the time required for EDI work - remember that being part of an employee network should not place a strain on members. Always adopt a collaborative approach when asking  ERGs to assist with progress on your strategy.

<b>Provide an Executive Sponsor</b>

To ensure that your ERGs are set up for success, it's crucial to ensure that the network receives senior leadership support. An Executive Sponsor acts as a liaison between the group and the executive team, helping to facilitate communication, mentor group members, achieve alignment with the organisation's goals, and secure budget for EDI initiatives. The appointed Sponsor should take a personal interest in the work of the ERG and commit to attending meetings periodically to build an effective relationship (frequency should be decided between the ERG and the Executive Sponsor)

<b>Recognition and reward</b>

Consider ways in which your organisation can recognise and reward EDI work that sits outside of an employee’s primary responsibility. For example, you may wish to consider incorporating EDI-related accomplishments into performance reviews or bonus evaluations. You may also wish to consider ring-fenced time for ERG leads, to ensure that they are afforded the opportunity to support your organisation’s EDI strategic goals without adding to their existing workload. It is also important to celebrate the changes that have come about in your organisation through the hard work of the ERG.

While ERGs can make valuable contributions towards an organisation's EDI initiatives, their primary function should be as a support and advisory mechanism. Ultimate accountability for EDI progress should rest with organisational leadership, who have the authority, resources, and responsibility to drive systemic change. Collaborating with external consultants can help to accelerate the rate of progress in your organisation, ensuring that activities are underpinned by expertise and strategic insight.