EY’s professional networks (ERGs) and inclusion councils are aligned with its business strategy and both help the firm achieve results. DiversityInc caught up with EY to discuss how the firm utilizes both and how they work in concert to achieve desired outcomes.
What is the difference between EY’s professional networks and inclusiveness councils?
EY’s professional networks began as affinity groups, progressed to resource groups and ultimately evolved into the professional networks that exist today. The program is aligned with EY’s business strategy and purpose: helping to elevate the voices of our people so that they feel a strong sense of belonging, and have the platform to grow and succeed. Each network is open and inclusive and encourages participation from allies. The networks have three strategic drivers — connecting our people; connecting communities; and connecting with clients to build successful relationships, brands and careers. In order to achieve these three objectives, EY professional networks utilize a framework based on shared guidance, but also have the flexibility to develop programming that best suits each group’s needs in that market.
Our inclusiveness councils — in the Americas and globally — differ from our professional networks. EY council members are key influential leaders who are nominated and selected. They represent different parts of our business and functions and include many global leaders who are focused on driving change and progress in their local markets.
Council members play an active role in shaping our processes across the organization and help us achieve our D&I goals, including the development of high-performing teams, asking better questions, equitable recruitment, retention and sponsorship across all dimensions of diversity.
“At EY, we see tremendous value in structuring our business resource and affinity groups around gender, ethnicity, ability and sexual orientation, to name a few. Each network is open and inclusive and encourages ally participation. This continues to elevate the voices of our people and strengthens a sense of belonging. We have also expanded our efforts to invest in inclusiveness councils around the world. These councils consist of key influential leaders from all areas of our business who help us to further drive our D&I strategy by exploring challenges, elevating best practices and creating more equitable outcomes for all of our people. By investing in both resource groups and councils, we ensure that all differences and perspectives are better heard and leveraged.” Karyn Twaronite, Partner, Global and Americas Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer
Is there collaboration between the two?
We see these professional networks and councils as complementary to one another, rather than mutually exclusive. There are executive leaders of our professional networks who also sit on the Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council.
Our council members develop resources, research and other content on key topics such as equitable sponsorship, executive presence and belonging. Their outputs are often integrated into our professional networks strategy through events, webinars, conferences and other activities across the organization. For example, our professional networks recently collaborated with our council members during heritage month celebrations by engaging in community dialogs on “Belonging: Building micro cultures of inclusion,” where our leaders learned that creating a sense of belonging in the workplace is imperative to building the best teams and advancing an individual’s career.
Can you give an example of how each has helped the firm achieve a business objective (culture, community, client engagement)?
Our professional networks and inclusiveness councils, in partnership and separately, create meaningful changes in the lives of our people. Recently EY’s Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council (IAC) partnered with EY’s Today’s Families Network (TFN) and our employee assistance program EY Assist to co-sponsor the meeting “Kids, families and stress in a changing world.” The session addressed the U.S. election and racial tension, and it also explored what the impact of this social climate might be on children and families.
To guide this discussion, we brought in one of the nation’s leading child and adolescent psychiatrists, Dr. Harold Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute. He provided an overview of the unique challenges faced by today’s children and families and delivered insightful responses to our people’s questions.
The outcome was powerful. “I literally could not take notes fast enough,” one person wrote in an email sent after the meeting. The participant “felt moved to share” how impactful the meeting had been and praised EY for the numerous resources they’d been made aware of during the session, including an online guide, put together by experts, for helping children process traumatic events.
Another example of our council and networks partnering together occurred this past spring when the Executive Order on Immigration was issued. EY’s International Cultural Exchange Network (ICEN) received many calls from members about the status of their job and their families. In response, the ICEN elevated this to the Inclusiveness Advisory Council and the two groups worked together to organize a survey and a meeting that would address questions and concerns related to immigration challenges. Led by a council member and an ICEN network executive sponsor, along with the participation of the EY Visa & Immigration Team, the Global Mobility team, EY Assist and EY Security, the session provided critical support and covered firm resources available to address issues and concerns. One participant of the call shared that “it was very informative and timely given the executive order and the current global environment. I especially liked the ICEN leadership team insights and the EY Assist discussion.”
To continue to engage our people, we must let them know that we are here, and that we are committed to offering resources that will help them bring together all the pieces. Collaborative discussions like these demonstrate EY’s unwavering commitment to our people and our inclusive culture. Hearing the personal stories also affirm that we are on the right path to building a better working world.