Successful leaders discuss best practices to help launch or improve your own employee resource groups.

Introduction by Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale
VP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Campbell Soup Company

When Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) began in the late 70’s they were often clandestine gatherings where individuals shared challenges and success strategies. ERGs provided a safe haven for women and African-American pioneers to connect and gather enough strength to return to disinterested and often hostile workplaces where their words and work were overlooked or invisible. One leader, David Kearns, then CEO at Xerox, recognized the power of this informal network and invited them to help Xerox become an employer of choice.

Fast forward to 2012 and employee resource groups—also known as affinity groups or employee networks—have evolved from safe haven social clubs into collaborative business partnerships engaged in everything from recruiting and retention efforts to marketing products and services to connecting companies to consumers.

Everyday there are new people challenges and opportunities—four generations in the workplace and shifting consumer preferences based on merged-cultural and multi-cultural experiences and communities.

How does a CEO keep up with these rapid changes while paying attention to legislative shifts, global and local demands, and economic chaos? Employee Resource Groups are one of the best kept secrets at her or his disposal.

Recruiting New Members

Nielsen PRIDE (LGBT)
Marty Siewert, Group VP
Internal newsletters are combined with word of mouth. Broad awareness of existence is key to generating interest; individual engagement via word of mouth is most effective at translating interest into participation.

CSC Abilities First Network
Leanne Thomas, Sr. Manager HR
The use of C3 (CSCʼs internal collaboration site) and broadcast messages are found to be most successful, allowing the ERG to reach a large number of people at the same time. The C3 environment allows the target audience to provide instant feedback and input on events and objectives of the employee resource group.

Alliant Energy Multicultural Network
Jamie Toledo, Manager, Corporate D&I
Social media allows the Alliant Energy Multicultural Network the opportunity to share the mission of the group and to be interactive and answer questions. This particular ERG holds an awareness breakfast each year, during this time they recruit and network with new potential members.

Mercer Women In Business
Sissy Pitts, Senior Client Services Team Lead
“Word of mouth is great,” says Pitts. “Friends bring friends to meetings, while talking up the events we do and the goals of the network. Email is great too since it goes to a broader audience.”

Shell Oil POWER*
Cynthia Rushing, Strategic Planning Manager
POWER is unique in that it is an intranetwork, which means that membership comes from those Multicultural ERGs. However, POWER prides itself on generating excitement from events primarily due to face-to-face interaction.
*Promoting Opportunities for Women across Ethnicity & Race

  • RobinTerrell

    April 12, 2012 #1 Author

    Technology can play a vital role in outreach and reenergizing ERGs.  Some groups have used the closed group features of Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate and engage members.  LinkedIn has the added plus of sharing professional backgrounds, enhancing the ability of the ERG to fully utilize the skills of its members and bring members to the attention of senior leaders.

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