Many companies desire thriving, effective employee resource groups (ERGs) and diversity councils (DCs) that engage employees in a meaningful way and help drive strategic business objectives. However, this ideal can prove difficult to achieve for a multitude of reasons that we will explore in this blog series. The first step in reaching the highest level of maturation for your ERGs and DCs begins with addressing the basic needs of your people: foundational needs.
Getting ERGs and DCs right is hard
Organizations that experience ineffective ERGs and DCs can see their ineffectiveness, but it's difficult to understand why they are ineffective. We all know that various factors from leadership to resources can greatly influence the success of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) groups, but where do you begin to learn the specific causes hampering your group’s ability to thrive and be impactful to your people and business?
Maybe you feel like one of our clients, a government research agency, who engaged us to help them identify and advance their ERG and DC maturity. Many of their ERGs and DCs were operating at a lower maturity level, and they couldn't understand why or the next best steps to move toward transformation. Our current state assessment revealed that foundational needs were missing, thus preventing them from continuing up the Hierarchy of Transformation.
There was an overall lack in collaboration between business leadership and DEI group members, resulting in decreased levels of engagement. Additionally, communication channels weren't effectively disseminating the transparency and definition of success needed to continue growing their groups.
Achieving ERG or DC maturation is hard, especially when you don't know what to do or where to begin. Our recommendation is to go back to the basics and assess whether or not foundational needs are accounted for or need to be improved within your DE&I groups.
Keys for driving foundational maturity
1. Clearly define your mission, vision, and values.
If you're just getting started with ERG/DC transformation, it can be tempting to jump to other aspects of infrastructure without spending adequate time defining your mission. An investment in clearly defining your aim as an ERG or DC will reap rewards far into the future as you continue to make decisions guided by your mission.
2. Garner executive leadership support.
Healthy ERGs/DCs cannot exist without the support and guidance of an executive champion. The influence of an executive leader will lay the foundation for furthered support as your DE&I group continues to grow.
3. Establish effective communication channels.
Communication channels are not just for updates about events. They should be used to communicate definitions for success within the group as well as transparency around goals, progress, and challenges.
4. Gain adequate funding to support your initiatives.
As your DEI group begins to gain traction and take on new initiatives, it will be important to secure the financial backing necessary to execute initiatives successfully.
While these keys for driving foundational maturity are a good place to start, the best approach to ensuring this maturity will largely depend on the specific needs and functions of your company. A best-fit solution for your ERGs and DCs will consider your people, your processes, and your goals for DE&I transformation.
In our next installment of the ERG/DC Hierarchy of Transformation we will talk about the importance of establishing safety and strength within your DE&I groups. As a quick preview, fulfilling the needs of level two, safety and strength, is the result of proactive efforts to establish psychologically safe spaces where employees can communicate ideas, ask questions, and share experiences—thus increasing the ability to be their best selves at work.
Building your infrastructure
Fulfilling foundational needs is the first step to establishing highly mature and transformational ERGs/DCs. Creating a strong infrastructure will lay the foundation for continued growth, engagement, and impact within your DE&I groups.
Reach out to one of our ERG/DC and DE&I experts at email@example.com for more information on how Credera’s ERG/DC Hierarchy of Transformation can be used to assess your foundational needs, map out a strategy for maturing your infrastructure, and take action toward your future state vision.