The ABCs of ERGs
Participation in employee resource groups is booming. Here’s how to ensure they best serve the employees who join them.
James A. Anderson
The BAI article, “The ABCs of ERGs," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Bradlee Benn on the purpose and role of employee resource groups. The article is excerpted below.
Long a staple of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, employee resource groups give both front-line employees and management a sense of community in the face of adversity. A number of banks have used ERGs to help employees come to grips with pandemic fears, contemplate how to respond to racial injustice and understand the impact an economy in shock is having on both bank employees and the people they serve.
Those functions have proven invaluable in 2020. Consultants and company diversity officials applaud ERGs for providing employees—women, African American, Hispanic, LGBTQ or members of other groups—with a safe haven. ERG members can air out their feelings, lift one another up and brainstorm ways to raise issues with management. In some cases, groups can even invite outside speakers to facilitate discussions for the group or for a broader, company-wide audience.
At the same time, companies need to temper their expectations. Often, that means viewing ERGs as facilitators rather than problem solvers. “A common misconception companies make is to strap ERGs with the responsibility of generating solutions," says Bradlee Benn, a diversity consultant with Russell Reynolds Associates. “That's unfair. ERGs are there to help create a safe space and sense of community, one that leadership can tap into to get input as they set strategy."
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