How to Maximize the Potential of Your ERGs

Creating or strengthening a company ERG? Corporate leaders share tips for success.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be powerful tools for organizations striving to advance an inclusive culture and support employee development. But how, exactly, do you make your ERGs effective drivers of workplace inclusion?

Dow Chemical’s Shruti Bahadur, Global Employee Experience and ERG Leader, and Tiffany D. Torain, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Relationship Manager for the Great Lakes Bay Region, offered up these helpful guidelines for maximizing ERG potential at the 2024 Catalyst Awards. Above all else, it’s key to have an intentional focus and take deliberate action to drive meaningful progress and results. Read on to learn how to put these principles into action.

Offer a solid value proposition: Don’t forget that ERGs are first and foremost a resource for employees. ERGs can offer them a voice within the organization, cultivate positive workplace experiences, and provide a platform for business growth. An ERG must be welcoming, foster cross-collaboration, and align with organizational core values.
Create a robust governance structure: For ERGs to meet their potential, you need to maintain open pathways of communication from both company leadership and ERG members, and the right governance structure can achieve this. For example, an office of inclusion might be at the center, under the supervision of executive sponsors from firm leadership who can share their annual business targets and objectives. ERG sponsors can work alongside this “central office,” sharing feedback from ERG members as well as communicating firmwide goals to the ERGs. This creates a robust feedback loop, collaboration at all levels, and a platform for enterprise engagement.
Design mechanisms for measurement and accountability: To ensure that ERGs are effective, it’s important to have tools to measure their success. For example, many ERGs create dashboards that display the number of members, a lineup of future events or projects, past event attendance, and any other relevant data. Once you have established the right metrics to track your ERGs’ progress, don’t forget to schedule regular check-ins with ERG sponsors to review results and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Align ERGs with strategic priorities: Don’t forget to activate your ERGs to help with organizational priorities, for example recruiting or increasing supplier diversity. Roll out an agenda of priorities each year, but make sure that your ERGs have enough flexibility to develop programming that works for their audience. For example, an ERG that focuses on people with disabilities might help an organization design packaging that is easier to open.
Focus on engagement: It’s critical for employees to feel genuinely engaged with their ERGs and inspired to participate in a meaningful way. Collaboration with other ERGs can help to increase allyship and amplify impact, so don’t forget to provide opportunities for members of different ERGs to connect, learn from one another, and volunteer. For example, all-ERG conferences allow representatives from each ERG to come together to learn from one another and get inspired.
Promote advocacy and action: ERGs are a great way to transform your organization’s vocal support for inclusion into actions that directly benefit employees. They have the potential to communicate to company leadership which benefits and policies would make the biggest difference for employees. For example, a company might choose to adjust its parental leave policies to include those who are not birth parents, or offer more targeted flex-work options.

Employee Resource Groups have so much to offer an organization: they increase employee satisfaction, they are a fantastic conduit for employee feedback to leadership, and they can provide invaluable assistance with organizational initiatives. By maximizing the potential of your ERGs for inclusion, you can bring your diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative—and your organization—to a whole new level.

Join us at enERGize on 5 June, an online learning engagement for ERG leaders, members, and sponsors, and other DEI leaders. Attendees will learn to engage in effective partnership across lines of business and at all levels of their organization.

By leveraging Catalyst’s unparalleled research in the DEI space, the event provides innovative tools and solutions to build cost-effective ERGs that drive inclusion, employee engagement, and retention in a shifting labor landscape.


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