Are you or someone you know at a company or organization that is spearheading change? Are you looking for a way to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts into your everyday work-life or do you want to amplify opportunities for connection among young professionals in your organization? Your first thought may be that establishing an employee resource group (ERG) is the best place to start, which in many cases is true! ERGs can be helpful to organizations and provide a tremendous amount of value to the culture of an organization big or small. But before diving in to the creation of an ERG, here are a few things you should consider:
- Talk to your organization’s leadership and get buy-in from the start. We know that having buy-in from the leadership level is incredibly important for the success of any new initiative in the workplace. Even if it’s a specific champion that can echo your opinions and advocate for the establishment of an ERG, having that from the start goes a long way toward moving things forward and having the decision-makers be a part of the formation process when needed.
- Determine who your team will be to get things established. As we’re all too familiar with the term too many cooks in the kitchen, this can’t be more true for establishing an ERG. It’s recommended that no more than 2-6 people spearhead efforts and to develop a sustaining group.
- Choose a leader or point of contact, even if it’s not long term, to be responsible for coordinating meetings and distributing information. This will be incredibly important if and when leadership of your ERG is transferred over down the road or transitions naturally with time.
- Identify the business case for your group by mapping out why the company needs a group of young professionals or support in a specific area that will advance DEI efforts and present these ideas to senior management. This can be helpful to determine if there will be an opportunity for financial support for the group.
- Start to think about who will participate in your group. Who are your target members? Are they young professionals ages 40 and younger? New employees?
- Begin brainstorming the vision, mission and values for the group as well as the mission statement for your ERG. This will help to define a purpose and understanding for what the group intends to do and why members of your organization should consider participating.
- Finally, determine your ERG’s pillars. How will ERG members benefit from being involved? Do you want to host networking events? Will you host volunteer opportunities?
Starting an ERG is daunting and can feel like a huge task at hand, but focusing on a few things before diving right into the creation can help you along the way. For more information on how to get started creating an employee resource group, and more specifically to start and sustain a Young Professionals ERG, reach out to the Council of Companies.