Employee Resource Groups: Make an Impact, Grow Your Career
You want to make a social impact, but it’s hard to find the time and motivation after a long workday. Why not leverage your company’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?
These employee-led initiatives open doors to mentoring relationships, internal job postings, cultural awareness, and civic engagement. Plus, involvement can give your career a boost.
What’s an Employee Resource Group (ERG)
Found in companies big and small, ERGs (also called Affinity Groups) build community among workers who share similar identities or life experiences and help employees bring their authentic selves to work.
It’s common to find ERGs for women, minorities, differently-abled people, veterans, and LGBTQA+ employees. Allies can join, too.
The History of ERGs’ Impact on Corporate Culture
ERGs have a longstanding history of creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable corporate cultures. Created in response to Rochester, NY race riots, Xerox established the first U.S. ERG in 1970. Black employees and then-CEO, Joseph Wilson, formed the National Black Employee Caucus to build a better corporate culture for black employees.
Today, ERGs continue to thrive as a place where employees have a voice. When used correctly, they help companies understand and fix diverse employees’ pain points and shift culture toward inclusivity. If you want to have your voice heard - and in numbers - joining an ERG is a great way to affect corporate change.
Socially Impactful Projects
In addition to creating inclusive and equitable workplaces, ERGs typically participate in socially impactful projects. Below are several types of programming your company’s ERGs may offer.
Create a win-win-win when ERG members participate in industry-specific volunteering. For example, financial institutions may give back through financial literacy programs, allowing you to share your skills in your wheelhouse to benefit community members. They learn new skills, the program boosts the company’s brand, and you enjoy making a positive impact.
Community garden or food bank
A lot of companies, regardless of industry, give back by fighting hunger and local food insecurity. You might volunteer to organize food drives, grow vegetables on-site, or use paid time to sort and pack items at your local food bank.
Experiences, Education, and Celebrations
ERG members often create programming related to their constituents. Participation in Pride events, Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific Heritage Month, and MLK Day are examples of ERG-related programming.
Attending ERG events - especially ones outside your own experience - helps you become more socially conscious, making you a better teammate.
Career Benefits of ERG Involvement
Participating in ERGs can help you make a social impact while also boosting your career. Here are some ways you can benefit professionally:
Gain leadership experience
As employee-led groups, ERGs provide leadership opportunities no matter your title. You’ll get exposure to upper management and may even enjoy facetime with the CEO. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your leadership potential.
Learn or practice a new skill
Maybe you’re a programmer interested in project management. Or maybe you’re new to graphic design and want to add to your portfolio. Whatever skills you want to learn or practice, ERGs provide opportunities to try new things.
ERG project work and networking opportunities help you build relationships with those in other departments you may not meet otherwise. Find out about career-boosting opportunities on other teams or more about your organization’s unique pain points. You can even find a workplace mentor.
Become a mentor
It always feels good to give back. Share your experience and organizational knowledge with more junior members or peers.
ERGs offer a wide range of value to companies and employees alike. They shape organizational culture, create socially impactful initiatives, and promote employees' unique experiences at work.
If your company needs support creating an ERG or other socially impactful programs, b. can help. Contact us today.