Chances are, if you work in corporate America, you’ve heard the term ERG before. But do you know what is stands for and why it’s important? Employee resource groups (ERGs) have become a valuable and leading part of company culture in recent years—and for good reason: They help to improve employee belonging, retention, and engagement, and serve as credible channels for sharing new ideas and perspectives with executive leadership and management. Read on to learn the ins and outs of ERGs and how to implement a program at your organization.
What is an ERG?
Employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led groups formed around a shared characteristic such as gender, ethnicity, or disability. Their purpose is to harness the power of belonging in service to an organization’s people, the company, and the community at large. You do not have to share the identity or direct experience to join one of these groups. In fact, it’s strongly encouraged that allies join an ERG in support of their colleagues. For example, even if you don’t identify as Asian, if your company offers an ERG that celebrates the Asian community, it’s beneficial to both you and the organization if you join this group to expand your knowledge and understanding and to offer an alternative perspective. ERGs are at their best when they include a diverse group of participants.
Employee resource groups are at their best when they include a diverse group of participants.
Why are ERGs important to an organization?
These employee-driven groups enhance company culture because of their focus on shared identities, experiences, and allyship. They create positive impacts that leaders can measure (i.e., tracking new member growth; supporting a business unit) and are essential to the success of an organization. ERGs help to build trusting relationships, drive innovation and collaboration, and help to develop current and future leaders.
At UKG, the ERGs allow members to:
- Build connections with other U Krewers
- Share ideas for market intelligence and product evolution
- Network with executives and peers
- Expand your cultural and global knowledge
- Become a champion for UKG, our team members and customers
How do you launch a DEI&B Strategy?
ERGs are one component that facilitate UKG’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives. However, there are other aspects that helped us launch a successful DEI&B strategy.
- We make DEI&B a global business imperative that is supported by all.
- We built a DEI&B strategy and established clear goals and scorecards because we know what gets measured gets done.
- We provide a foundation for DEI&B success through our foundational learning and ERG impact.
- We are making UKG a place where unique identities and perspectives are not only welcomed, but sought out, celebrated, and well represented.
What we’re doing at UKG
Currently, UKG has eight employee resource groups that have 7,000+ global members and span across 14 countries.
- ADAPT (Accessibility & Disability Allies Partner Together)
- AsPIRE (Asians & Pacific Islanders Raising Equity)
- BUILD (Black U Krewers in Leadership & Development)
- CARES (Cancer, Awareness, Resources, Education, & Support)
- FIRE Up (Female Inclusion, Resilience, & Excellence)
- PRIDE (Supporting our LGBTQIA+ U Krewers & Allies)
- UNIDOS (Uplift, Network, Impact, Develop, Orgullo, & Support)
- VETS (Supporting our Veteran U Krewers, their Families, & Friends)
Structure and mission
Each of our ERGs’ programs and initiatives is driven by its mission and goals. Our ERGs impact our business and our customers through driving business innovation. We provide opportunities to network with other team members, develop career and leadership skills, and volunteer opportunities within our communities. The structure for each ERG includes executive sponsors, co-chairs, finance leads, project managers, and workstream leads.
Our groups host events and programs throughout the year to provide employees the opportunity to continuously learn about different cultures, communities, and allyship, and to enhance their own professional development. They host panel discussions and fireside chats featuring internal employees as well as guest speakers, and sometimes these conversations are themed around a particular awareness/heritage month or holiday. Mentorship opportunities are provided from more senior leaders, as well as upskilling and career development. The ERG members can help establish new peer-to-peer connections amongst each other.
Internal business development
The ERGs have also worked closely with different areas of the business, which our teams welcome. Their perspectives help us grow organizationally so we can provide even better support to our employees and our customers. This includes having conversations with HR about different benefits and identifying policy gaps, influencing awareness for our brand, and how the world views us externally, promoting diversity in our products, and supporting our commitment to accessibility and inclusion.
Our groups give to local communities often. This past year, members hosted fundraisers for nonprofit organizations in alignment with their ERG, rallied teams together to participate in different charity 5Ks, and volunteered for mentoring programs for middle, high school, and college students to raise their interests for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Lastly, we make sure that each ERG is supported by an executive sponsor. These executives have experience working with teams and providing support from a business perspective. They can help the ERG committees with their business imperatives and advocate on their behalf. Each group has 2-3 executives that support them.
Start an ERG program at your organization
Employee resources groups are a valuable part of any organization. Make it a priority to start or enhance your company culture with a robust ERG program. Done with intention and purpose, it’ll benefit both the employees and the organization.
Learn more about how UKG is building an inclusive environment for all people.
Check out this guide for ideas on how to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization at work.
Learn more about employee resource groups from Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture.