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.

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.