An employee resource group (ERG) is an employee-led group that brings together people of similar backgrounds to help accomplish business goals, to help employees make connections with others, and to share innovative ideas.
Employee Resource Groups were first implemented by Xerox in the 60s because of race-related tensions. By 1970, The National Black Employees Caucus was formed. Today, in addition to the ethnically diverse groups, ERGs have evolved for the LGBTQ community, women, veterans, young professionals, and beyond. More than 90% of Fortune 500 companies have employee resource groups.
“The main goal of an employee resource group is to provide a space and place for people of similar backgrounds or interests to come together,” says Candace Burns, Director of Workforce Development at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
ERGs often provide a platform for employees to share ideas. By increasing employee engagement, they’ll be more likely to stay and grow with the company. According to Burns, ERGs allow employees to feel more connected to their organization as well.
Employee Resource groups also help in accomplishing business goals. By creating a sense of community, employees are more inclined to reach out to people within their own communities.
“These ERGs are able to provide valuable information, ear to the ground information that is necessary for the organization to be successful in the communities we serve,” says Ive Gonzalez, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, and Inclusion at Eastern Bank. “Members of the employee network groups engage our communities externally and represent out employees internally—their voice and contributions are invaluable.
These groups are imperative to helping employees network and make connections with others. By allowing them the time and space to get together and share common interests, companies are giving employees the opportunity to be innovative and look at things from a different perspective.