As defined by MIT Human Resources, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are employee-led groups formed around common interests, issues and/or a common bond or background. These groups were initially created by organizations to provide an outlet and support system for minority and underrepresented populations in the workforce.
Some of the most common ERGs are women, LGTBQ employees, employees of various racial and ethnic backgrounds, military veterans, and people with disabilities. In the past five years, we have also seen more organizations develop generational and age-based groups.
In fact, in 2016 it was reported that 63% of organizations that offer ERGs have one dedicated to young professionals and ninety percent of organizations ERGs were actively involved in new hire onboarding, according to a study by Shelton Goode, Ph.D, an author, and director of diversity and inclusion at Oshkosh Corp.
Many organizations develop ERGs to inspire open communication and socialization, as a tool for professional development and learning, and as a method of employee listening, to better cater to the needs of their diverse workforces.
AT&T is a great example of a company who truly understands the value of ERGs. Employees have the opportunity to take on leadership roles, grow both professionally and personally, and become deeply involved in their working community. AT&T has twelve vastly different ERGs for employees to choose from and uses their employee onboarding process as a vehicle to expose and share these opportunities with their employees.
Since leveraging the onboarding process to share this resource, AT&T’s ERGs have experienced a 250 percent growth rate in the last three years.
In order for ERGs to truly work at your organization encourage each group to align their objectives and goals with your organization’s mission, this will help create a standard for success and can easily be measured.
Frequent communication and collaboration among leadership and different employee groups will also be important to ensure you are fostering a sense of community, diversity, and inclusion among all employees.