For the past few years, it seems like “diversity” and “inclusion” have been buzz words in my organization. Like many other global companies, a few years ago, we started making the shift from the idea of diversity as hiring employees from “protected classes” to creating and defining a culture that embraces people from all backgrounds. This new mindset and expanded corporate culture not only recognizes the differences in its employees, but actually celebrates them! It’s an inclusion revolution!
To me, the most impactful change that my organization made was the introduction of the Employee Resource Groups or ERGs. By definition, ERGs are “voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.” (Catalyst, Inc., n.d.) In short, ERGs allow employees from normally excluded groups to create a resource group where they are included. The company promotes and values these groups, which drives the concept of inclusion.
While building our roster of Employee Resource Groups has taken time, there are now 8 ERGs for employees to join and participate in. The most recent ERG to launch is OUT – a group supporting the LGBTQ community and its allies. I was nominated to be a Steering Committee member when this ERG was being formed last year and since our official launch, I moved into the role of Membership Chair. The experience of working with this team has been invaluable and I have learned much more about building a community of inclusion than I ever expected. Our mission itself is inclusive – to empower the LGBTQ community and its allies. I love that we are able to embrace everyone that wants to know more about the LGBTQ community and the challenges OUT employees face.
While there are still opportunities to improve our corporate culture and to further encourage inclusion, I believe these ERGs are a great way for employees to feel empowered and to learn more about culturally diverse groups. I am excited about the possibilities for my OUT group as we head into our first full year as an organization. I am also encouraged by the effort put forth by my company to support and embrace these Employee Resource Groups.
2018 – To Inclusion and Beyond!
Blessingwhite. (n.d.). To Inclusion…And Beyond. Blessingwhite.
Catalyst, Inc. (n.d.). ERGs (Employee Resource Groups). Retrieved from Catalyst: Workplaces that Work for Women: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/topics/ergs-employee-resource-groups