A New Initiative: The National Diversity Council’s ERG Academy!

Employee Resource Groups continue to be a major initiative to productively engage a diverse workforce.

Employee Resource Groups, Business Resource Groups, Employee Affinity Networks … whatever you want to call them, ERGs (for short) continue to grow as one of the main vehicles for companies to engage and empower diverse employees to contribute their best to the organization. ERGs help employees feel a sense of belonging, help recruit the very best diverse set of employees, help engage diverse customers, and assist with corporate – community engagement. As large companies continue to grow and enhance their ERGs, smaller and medium size companies are now launching them.

And now for my big announcement! I have been commissioned by the National Diversity Council to design and co-facilitate their brand new 1 and ½ days ERG Academy! And we intend to offer the best academy on this subject in the industry with a focus on practical information and building an ERG action plan.

For the past two years, I have enjoyed being on the faculty of the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST week-long Certification Program taught at various locations around the US. This program prepares professionals to create and implement highly successful diversity and inclusion strategies. I will continue to teach the modules on best practices in diversity recruiting, employee resource groups, diversity councils and diversity training. And I am now thrilled to take the lead on this new NDC initiative.

The NDC will be launching this new one and a half day ERG (Employee Resource Group) Academy in Dallas, Texas. And I am thrilled to be the lead developer and co-facilitator of this new offering! Our inaugural academy will be in Dallas, Texas April 8-9th, just prior to the NDC’s annual Leadership and Diversity Conference.

The overall construct of this new NDC ERG Academy

The mission of the DiversityFIRST™ ERG Academy is to be a resource to both individuals and organizations seeking to start, grow or fully utilize their employee resource groups. The academy blends theory and practice over a one-and-a-half-day interactive curriculum, with the development of an action plan to effectively lead ERGs for the greatest business impact and sustainability.

The intended audience includes ERG leaders and members, HR leaders with responsibility for overseeing ERGs, HR advisors and executive sponsors supporting ERGs, and internal or external consultants working with ERGs

To read more about the objectives, the curriculum and enrollment information, please check out the NDC ERG Academy web page. And always feel free to email or call me with any questions.

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.