As the role of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) has grown over the past few years, so have their many benefits. Created to meet the needs of a more diverse workforce, ERGs are formed around a common interest or shared background and help employees find others with shared interests, values, beliefs, or goals.
These groups play a critical role in helping organizations develop an environment that meets the needs of these groups. As a result, ERGs can provide a valuable source of feedback to improve and drive company-wide health and well-being initiatives.
ERGs are a safe space to discuss experiences
ERGs were started to foster diverse and inclusive workplaces and provide a safe space for employees to discuss their experiences. They are often formed around identities such as race, age, gender or gender expressions, sexual orientation, and ability status. Other affinity groups may form around particular interests or experiences such as caring for elders or a health interest.
Since ERGs are led by employees, they can discover and discuss barriers in a way that allows for more open conversation than if they were led by a manager.
Open communication with management
The ERG must know that they can provide feedback and suggestions to management. The support of leadership often takes the form of an executive sponsor. This senior leader is both a member of the ERG and an advocate for the group.
The executive sponsor is an important link between the group and the C-Suite and can provide needed support for change. Executive sponsors don’t lead the group discussions but rather listen and mentor the other members. They also serve as an important voice when the ERG is not present.
ERGs must feel that they have the organization’s support to have the purpose to work toward their goals. This includes knowing that their input is valued and makes a difference.
Management support and fruitful collaboration at The Knot Worldwide
At The Knot Worldwide (TKWW), ERGs have taken on an important role and have influenced several benefit offerings. HR often asks the ERGs for their feedback when considering new benefits and input on current offerings.
According to Jessica Concha, Senior Manager of Benefits, at TKWW, all ERGs align with a pillar called “accelerating the business.” It means that the ERG pledges to advocate for more inclusive practices. In turn, leadership collaborates with ERGs to support that obligation.
Their Women in Tech ERG played a role in taking a deeper look at their family planning solutions. The group felt there was a gap for individuals who needed fertility services but who weren’t experiencing an infertility diagnosis, such as same-sex couples or single people.
As HR looked at their family-building benefit, they took into account the feedback from the group. As they planned coverage they worked with the group, even presenting their proposed benefit changes to the ERG to ensure it addressed their concerns.
In the end, due to the ERG’s input, TKWW added a $10,000 benefit towards adoption and surrogacy and carved out their family-planning benefit from their traditional health plan. This allowed it to meet the needs of singles and same-sex couples who were not eligible for services through traditional health plan coverage.
Building inclusivity and well-being in the organization
Participating in an ERG often benefits employees by enhancing job satisfaction and overall health. When employees see their ideas translate into action, it extends this sense of well-being. Collaboration with ERGs enables organizations to create healthy environments with inclusive policies and operations.
The Knot Worldwide emulates a sense of inclusiveness throughout its brand and uses ERG feedback to create its inclusive benefit. Learn how TKWW is Supporting a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace with Family-Building Benefits