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.

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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.

Evolving Employee Resource Groups – a Creative Approach from Erie Insurance

Tesha L. Nesbit Arrington, Erie Insurance's Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Analytics, presented Erie's D&I best practices at a recent National Diversity Council - Carolinas "Best Practices" Meeting

Tesha L. Nesbit Arrington, Erie Insurance’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Analytics, presented Erie’s D&I best practices at a recent National Diversity Council – Carolinas “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.

Over the years, ERGs have continued to evolve. Some companies now refer to ERGs as BRGs – Business Resource Groups. This underscores that the true goal of the ERG is to make the employees and the business overall more effective. There should be a strong connection between the strategy and goals of the ERG (or BRG) and the company. Activities such as leadership development, connecting the company to the community and marketplace, and even input into product or services development helps the organization achieve its business goals.

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 attend a half day “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices” seminar organized by the National Diversity Council – Carolinas in Durham, NC. One of the presenters was Tesha L. Nesbit Arrington, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Analytics at Erie Insurance Group.

Ms. Nesbit, in presenting several diversity and inclusion best practices from Erie Insurance, highlighted their innovative approach to employee resource groups. Instead of starting with constituency-based resource groups, they started with groups focused around a particular business focus. Their first four ERGs were:
SynERgIzE – focused on building an inclusive workplace
Multiplicity – for diverse employee recruiting outreach
CamaradERIE – building and promoting diversity among the agent community
ExpERIEnce – around providing best customer experience and service for its diverse customer set.

After these networks were up, running and successful with participation from a wide range of constituencies, that provided a strong base for next launching constituency based affinity groups. The first two were women and multi-generational, with African-American and Veterans’s charter proposals in the queue.

Erie Insurance continues to build ongoing robust diversity and inclusion initiatives on this base, including their “Dignity and Respect” Campaign and scoring 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, which measures corporate LGBT inclusion.