Sep 19, 2023

DE&I maturity for ERGs and diversity councils part 5: Respect and alignment

Rhea Horton

Rhea Horton

DE&I maturity for ERGs and diversity councils part 5: Respect and alignment

As we continue our series on Credera’s employee resource groups (ERGs)/diversity councils (DC) Hierarchy of Transformation, we focus on respect and alignment.

As we’ve shared in the previous parts of this series, creating more impactful and effective employee resource groups (ERGs) and diversity councils (DCs) is a journey. We chart this progress with our Hierarchy of Transformation. We’ve highlighted the intentionality, effort, and leadership support required to progress through levels one through three of the Hierarchy of Transformation, and now it’s time to focus on level four.

As organizations advance through levels one to three, the foundational and relationship needs of the people have been addressed along with establishing the core elements to derive business impact (i.e., metrics). Now it’s time to build on those elements to further transform the business strategy to be more inclusive and magnify diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) outcomes.

The respect and alignment level, level four, centers on the role that ERGs and DCs play in defining and aligning business goals, business plans, and DEI strategies and having a seat at that table. Level four is where we see ERGs and DCs become more business critical entities, but that only happens when their voices and perspectives are well-integrated at the top.

Challenges on the way to maturity

The road to reach level four in the Hierarchy of Transformation model can be long. As a result, it can be easy to believe that since the foundation, safety, and ability to measure impact has been established for your ERGs and DCs, that alignment to business goals and DE&I strategy is a natural outcome. However, ensuring that your ERGs and DCs make measurable contributions to your business and DE&I strategy takes tenacity and commitment to reach true synergy.

Incorporating your ERGs and DCs for strategic alignment requires collaboration, codification, and amplification of their diverse voices. Some organizations run into challenges with listening, amplifying, and embedding diverse voices when making strategic decisions. They may run into difficulties with positioning the groups’ mission and business plan to align with the overall business or DE&I strategy.

Without attaining this level of integration, i.e., respect and alignment, many companies may view their ERGs as only creating an internal sense of community or may view their DCs as groups to provide business leaders with general sentiment and suggestions. Instead, when ERGs and DCs have their voices embedded in making strategic decisions and they see a clear path to how they support the business and DE&I strategy, it results in increased innovation, access to new markets, and reaching business goals with a more engaged workforce.

Credera’s approach:

To help organizations overcome these challenges, Credera’s assessment and systems aim to:

1. Capture, amplify, and consistently embed diverse voices:

Capturing your diverse voices is critical in understanding current needs and gaps across the organization from various underrepresented communities, which impacts retention and recruitment goals. Obtaining these voices may also lead to solutions for reaching broader external markets that are aligned to the communities they represent, thus contributing to social impact, recruitment, and brand-building goals.

At Credera, we use a variety of tools (e.g., DE&I assessments, employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, listening sessions, and community townhalls) to collect internal sentiment from your diverse voices and distill the information into useful data points for embedding into the business and DE&I strategy. When you bring in an outside partner to collect employee sentiment, you receive unfiltered feedback and are able to listen with a level of openness sometimes not provided internally. Also, having an external partner can provide innovative solutions and a deeper understanding of how to apply best practices to help resolve employee concerns.

It is also important to develop a consistent means to incorporate these voices when making strategic decisions, especially when marginalized groups will be directly impacted by those decisions (the key word here is consistent—it needs to happen over time, not be a one-time effort). To accomplish a consistent and sustainable integration, we look to incorporate proven change management methods and processes to develop an effective roadmap for organizations, incorporating the right feedback in a timely and tangible manner that supports the natural decision-making rhythms of the specific organization.

2. Align mission and business plan to strategy:

Often, organizations allow for ERGs and DCs to create their own goals, charters, and business plans in isolation; however, doing so can produce silos that are misaligned with the business and DE&I strategy and in some cases conflict with them. It is imperative that leaders of the business and leaders of the ERGs/DCs work together to co-create business plans and strategic goals.

We recommend hosting strategic alignment workshops with these leaders in the space together, ensuring that the ERGs and DCs truly understand the business strategy and that the business leadership seeks to incorporate the ERG/DCs perspective into the business strategy. In these strategic alignment workshops, we can explore where there are gaps and opportunities to seek out additional alignment. The end goal is to build bridges that enable the ERGs and DCs to become a strategic partner to the leaders and vice versa.

DEI Part 5

Up next

In our final installment of the ERG and DC Hierarchy of Transformation, we will discuss the importance of innovation and scale. Reaching level five is where your organization can harness innovation and ingenuity of the partnerships with your ERGs and DCs.

Collaborate together and capture diverse voices

Moving to level four, respect, and alignment, is all about embedding diverse voices to effectively contribute to the DE&I and business strategy. There is a needed partnership between the ERGs and DCs with leadership to outline how both can effectively support and add value to the strategic goals.

Reach out to one of our ERG/DC and DEI experts at for more information on how Credera’s ERG/DC Hierarchy of Transformation can be used to assess your workplace culture, map out a strategy for establishing psychological safety, and take action toward your future state vision.

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