Moderator: Dana Noweder, Senior Client Fulfillment Manager at DiversityInc
- Liz Yancey, Lead Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, AT&T (A DiversityInc Hall of Fame company)
- Sheila Van Wicklen, Global Finance Staffing and Development Director, Dow ( 19 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021)
- Patty Juarez, Executive Vice President and Head of Diverse Segments, Wells Fargo ( 25 in 2021)
- Tyson Bauer, Inclusion and Diversity Lead, Humana ( 13 in 2021)
- Vu Trieu, Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, Cox Communications ( 32 in 2021)
Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are a powerful tool for businesses looking to instill a culture of inclusion while driving business results through a collaborative mindset, impacting both the local community and the marketplace.
Today, more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs. In our latest webinar, DiversityInc discusses the role of ERGs supporting the business and its workforce with representatives from some of the 2021 Top 50 Companies for Diversity.
The expert panel discussed the structure and goals of ERGs within their organizations, including how they support ERGs, help determine the leadership of the groups and keep them evolving with the times.
Key Webinar Thoughts, Takeaways and Highlights
Liz Yancey on ERGs supporting broader initiatives.
“One of the things our employee resource groups are really good at, that we count on to help us with is companywide initiatives. They have the ears of the employees. For example, last year, we had a big initiative on ‘get out and vote.’ The ERGs did such a great job with sponsoring voter registrations, explaining the importance of voting and urging all of their employees to vote through their newsletters and communications.”
Sheila Van Wicklen on the role of sponsors and HR within ERGs.
“We have detailed roles and responsibilities for all of these kinds of ERG-leader roles — specifically for our sponsors. We want them to be champions, help set strategic direction and really provide advice and be visible supporters of our ERG. We also found that it’s critical to have some other roles outside of the lead and co-lead on our global teams. All of our global teams have an HR representative on the global team.”
Patty Juarez on the selection process of ERG leaders.
“The positions for board seats, we treat them as if it’s a job application. It’s a very similar process to what HR does when we hire people for leadership roles. We have panel interviews, for example. We’re keen to put strong leadership behind these networks because they’re so critical to our success. We really take it seriously, and it’s like a true interview to assess whether you have the leadership capability and the passion and love for what you’re representing. And I think that really comes out loud and clear in those interviews.”
Tyson Bauer on having people in the ERG who can create the business case.
“We allow our groups to have the structure that best supports their goals and strategy. We do encourage them to have one or two people that are aligned to metrics and understanding outcomes, to be able to tell that story. That’s something that sets a precedent for the business case.”
Vu Trieu on promoting allyship through inclusion.
“Our employees have the flexibility to join any of the ERGs. That is one of the ways we’ve looked to promote allyship and inclusion. The last two years have shined new light on the importance of social justice and anti-discrimination, the health and wellness of all people. We really lean on and leverage how you choose to build an inclusive environment because it’s a holistic, natural and community-based way.”
Yancey on intersectionality.
“This year, our groups have done a lot with intersectionality. They’ve been holding panels and open discussions, hoping other people will see themselves in the panelist. We’ve had a Black-Indian panel discussion, a being Hispanic and gay or Black and transgender panel. The groups have done really well at collaborating and the other employees can see that they fit in it because most people are not just one segment. Most of our employees are two, three or four. And so, the groups can show that. The more they feel included, the more they feel that they belong.”
Trieu on setting expectations.
“Set the right expectation with the ERG leadership team. [ERG leaders] is a volunteer role, but it’s actually a lot of work. The question is, do you think you can handle this? Do you think you can lead the team? There are a lot of things that we want to do and a lot of grassroots efforts. There’s a lot of passion behind it, but it takes planning. It takes effort to put together great events for programming or whatever, so make sure you set the right expectation upfront.”
Juarez on goal setting.
“We can’t try to boil the ocean and make progress on everything. I’d rather have three main pillars, three main objectives and say we’re going to make this much progress on each one while remaining focused on representation, inclusion and serving our chapters and our members to bring tools and resources to them.”
Van Wicklen on regulating ERGs.
One of the things I love most about ERGs is that they’re grassroots; with passion and empowerment, they basically run themselves. They’re at all stages of their journey, so I like to say that while we provide these operating frameworks and best practices, that’s helping them define what they are versus tight rules and regulations. It’s at the ERGs discretion to decide what works best for them and their strategy.”