Posts Tagged ‘National Diversity Council’

A Best Practice in Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Resource Groups from Advance Auto Parts

Kiwanda Stansbury, Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Advance Auto Parts, Speaker at the North Carolina Diversity Best Practices Meeting.

In the diversity and inclusion field, there continues to be continued discussion on the importance of Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs. Traditionally, they have been referred to as “affinity groups” as they bring together employees around a common constituency factor such as Black, Hispanic, Women, Young Professionals, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), Veterans and more. These groups help make employees feel more at home and included in the workplace, and provide activities such as professional and social networking, mentoring and community involvement.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, I often attend various workshops to continue to pick up the latest development in my field. In early July, I attended a half day “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices” seminar organized by the National Diversity Council – Carolinas in Durham, NC. One of the presenters was Kiwanda Stansbury, Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Advance Auto Parts.

Ms. Stansbury started off by stating that Advance Auto Part’s and her mode of operation is to foster change and target to do things differently and better. That was evident in the way they structure and execute their employee resource groups, which they call “Team Member Networks” which follows their corporate nomenclature of referring to their employees as team members. Current Team Member Networks include:
• Women in Motion Network (WIMN)
• Knowledge Network – Diversity of Thought
• A.L.I.G.N. – African Americans Leading Inclusion and Growth Network
• S.E.R.V.I.C.E. – Serve, Educate, Recruit, Value, Celebrate and Empower (Veterans)
• #Connext – Millennial Network
• Amigos Unidos – Hispanic / Latino
• Advance Pride – LGBTQ
• R.I.C.E. – Recognizing International Cultures and Ethnicities

And Ms. Stansbury’s position title was different than normally found in the diversity and inclusion field in that her title is Director, Inclusion and Diversity. This highlights that inclusion is the real emphasis since that is where the work happens. Diversity is a fact of life, but inclusion is the hard work or making sure everyone is welcomed and valued in the workplace.

Company Resource Groups very often staff booths and tables at community diversity activities like this one I attended on my 60th birthday.

The major best practice that Ms. Stansbury shared was Advance Auto Parts’ robust and structured approach to inclusion and diversity which includes aligning their Team Member Networks to the overall organization’s strategy. They have established a structure and approach around four agreed upon key focus areas (i.e. pillars) that keep the networks aligned with corporate strategy:
Team Member Inclusion and Development
Talent Acquisition and Retention
Customer and Community Outreach which involves connecting team members to the customers and communities they serve through outreach and community service projects.
Business Alignment which includes aligning with the cultural shift, corporate strategy, tying to organizational health and establishing metrics to measure efforts.

Providing a strong framework around inclusion efforts will surely benefit Advance Auto Parts’ Team Member Networks by providing them a structure to operate so they thrive and be effective for both the corporation and the team members over the long term.

* * * *

Other Blogs I have written about Employee Network Groups:

Evolving Employee Resource Groups – a Creative Approach from Erie Insurance, which I wrote after the 2016 National Diversity Council – Carolinas Best Practices meeting.

Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups – Not “either / or,” but “both / and” which I wrote in response to one firm planning to close down their employee resource groups.

Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups – Not “either / or,” but “both / and”

Blog author Stan Kimer enjoys facilitating the Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Councils best practices sessions at the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST certification classes.

This past July, the large global public accounting firm Deloitte caused quite a stir in diversity circles when its chairman shared that it was going to disband its employee affinity groups (often call employee resource groups – ERGs or business resource groups) and replace them with inclusions councils. The logic is that the inclusion councils can still focus on underrepresented groups but also involve many more white men in the diversity and inclusion discussion. (Link to an article about this announcement from Diversity Inc.)

A few weeks after Deloitte’s announcement, Erika Irish Brown, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Bloomberg LP wrote a rebuttal titled “Why employee resource groups still matter” (LINK). Ms. Brown shared that their ERGs add significant value to their business and focus on Bloomberg’s five key pillars of commercial impact, recruiting, leadership development, marketing and communications, and community engagement.

I myself now serve on the faculty of the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST Certification Class and two of the modules I facilitate are Best Practices in Employee Resource Groups and Best Practices in Diversity Councils. I have now added a discussion about Deloitte’s recent actions to the class.

I strongly believe that diversity councils and ERGs are complementary, and both structures can co-exist and work together. It does not have to be one or the other. Here are 5 reasons why both structures are needed and should co-exist.

1) Diversity Councils are management sponsored and led with supporting the corporate business goals through diversity and inclusion as it main objective. ERGs are employee led, and though ERGs very often support the business, the primary impetus is addressing the workplace needs of the various diverse constituencies.

2) There are still many issues around underrepresented groups within American business, and so a focus and “safe space” for diverse communities to discuss their issues and collaborate to grow professionally are really needed.

ERGs can very effectively represent companies at constituency events like “OutRaleigh!” where I celebrated my 60th birthday.

3) You do not need to dissolve ERGs and form new inclusion councils if the goal is to increase involvement of white men. One best practice is to have a Men’s ERG so everyone is included in the ERGs structure. And white male leaders can be advocates, advisors, mentors and executive sponsors of the ERGs. (See my past blog from 2016 “Diversity and Straight White Men – 4 Key Thoughts.”)

4) ERGs are still a very effective may to connect a business with diverse community outreach and philanthropic activities and constituency markets.

5) Structured properly, ERGs and Diversity Councils can cross-pollinate and work closely to assure their goals and activities are aligned.

Often leaders make errors in trying to replace one structure or solution with another when actually the two co-exist and support each other. And so it is with Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups.

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