A Gallup study that shows 25% of Black workers feel discriminated against at work. Additionally, an NIH study revealed that Asian Americans are notably underrepresented in senior leadership and managerial positions within the organization. This goes to show that it is crucial to listen to what your employees need so that they can do their best and support your company.
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a great example of how to build an inclusive work environment through DEI strategies. But what are ERGs and how can you include them in your DEIB strategy?
We’ll go over some employee resource group examples to help you get a sense of what these groups can look like and what they can accomplish.
What is an ERG?
An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a workplace group where employees join based on shared identities, communities, and interests. Some examples include a working parents group, women’s network, moms returning to work, and specific culture or ethnicity-based groups.
ERGs offer members:
- An open and safe space for communication and discussion
- Support and resources such as sponsorship and mentorship
- Networking and growth opportunities
- Learning and development initiatives such as workshops, seminars, etc
They are designed to promote personal and professional development by creating a community where people learn and find support.
What is the purpose of ERGs in the workplace?
Organizations can use ERGs to promote a space of belonging and networking where employees can build strong relationships, discuss career goals, and gain professional and personal growth.
They not only help employees connect with colleagues who share something in common with them, but also provide a sense of community, which can lead people to find their purpose and confidence in the workplace.
This can happen in various ways by creating a space that discusses diversity or providing volunteer opportunities for people wanting to give back to the community.
10 Successful employee resource groups examples
So, what do such groups look like and what types of ERG should you create for your organization? Common examples of an ERG group in workplaces include the following:
- Women’s network
- ERG groups for people of color
- An LGBTQIA+ network
- Veterans employee resource groups
- Groups for people with disabilities
- A mental health advocacy group
- Latinxs employee resource groups
- A young professionals network
Now, every organization will have different needs and expectations. But since these groups are meant to support your employees, it is crucial to consider what will help them in particular.
Here are 10 employee group examples to help you visualize how these work and their impact:
1. Avison Young
Avison Young is a commercial real estate firm based in Canada. To increase the representation of women in leadership positions, they started an employee resource group geared toward women.
In this ERG, they use mentorship to pair leaders with women so they have a chance to discuss career goals, professional development, challenges, and so on. The mentors provide guidance, knowledge- and experience-sharing, support, and more.
In a press release, they described the impact of this ERG, stating:
“As a result of [our employee resource group’s] focus on advancing women… Avison Young’s corporate leadership is now 40% women and 25% of its board are women.”
2. King Games
King Games (known for its popular game, Candy Crush) used internal employee surveys to understand more about how their employees felt in the workplace. Through these surveys, they determined that their non-male employees felt like they didn’t belong in a predominantly male industry and lacked the confidence needed to grow in their career paths.
To address this issue, they launched many diversity and inclusion programs, including a mentorship program called Kicking Glass that paired leaders with over 250 non-male employees. These mentors provided support, guidance, and visibility for promotions.
Since running this program, King Games has been able to work towards their goals of increasing gender diversity in hiring and promotions. In just a year, they were able to increase the percentage of new female hires from 34% to 40%.
3. Ernst & Young Professional Networks
Ernst & Young (EY), a global organization providing consulting, strategy, and other services, runs several diversity and inclusion ERGs. One such initiative is their EY Professional Networks which offers opportunities for employees from different backgrounds to connect and form a community. Here are some of these Professional Networks:
- Black Professional Network
- Latinx Professional Network
- Professional Women’s Network
- Unity – the EY LGBT+ Network
- Veterans Network, and so on.
Since 2020, they have run 9 different Professional Networks with more than 30,000 employees participating. Furthermore, they were able to increase diversity representation in their promotions.
4. Women@Microsoft Scholarship (W@M)
Microsoft launched this scholarship to award high school women and non-binary people an opportunity at a career in technology. This is geared toward
s students who plan to attend a vocational or academic college and pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).
The purpose of this ERG is to break the gender gap in technology by attracting, developing, and retaining women employees around the world. And they do this through scholarships, mentorship, skill development, networking, and more. Led and directed by women, W@M handles everything from managing recruiting drives at traditional female colleges to providing networking opportunities with women-owned businesses.
According to their 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Report, women currently make up more than 30% of Microsoft’s core workforce worldwide, and since 2018, representation of women has increased at least 1.0 percentage point each year.
5. Community NETwork at AT&T
AT&T,,a telecom leader, has about 26 ERGs with more than 88,600 members participating. Some of these include groups and networks include:
- Community NETwork (1969) — Black Integrated Communications Professionals [BCIP]
- Faith@Work (2021)
- HACEMOS (1988) — Hispanic/Latino employee association
- LEAGUE at AT&T (1987) — LGBTQ association,
- Women of AT&T (1972) and more.
The Community NETwork (now called The NETwork) offers many opportunities such as talent development, networking, scholarships, etc. They also host programs such as C.A.F.E. conversations and eSTEAM to help individuals with career talk and development.
6. The Young Professionals at TIAA (YoPros)
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) bank is a financial services firm. As part of their DEI initiatives, TIAA launched YoPro, an ERG that offers young professionals networking and career development opportunities. The program is also geared towards new hires and people who are new to their roles such as new associates and managers.
The goal of this ERG is to combat high turnover rates by creating a space of learning and development. To this effect, YoPros organizes and runs volunteer work, gatherings, skill development workshops, and more.
7. Military Support & Assistance Group (MSAG) at Bank of America
The Bank of America runs a Military Support & Assistance Group designed to help veterans and those in service. The goal of this initiative is to provide resources to service members and their families. They’ve partnered with national and local military and veteran organizations across the US to understand how they can best help.
To assist and support veterans transitioning into civilian life, this ERG has several initiatives such as job recruiting, career development, financial education, and so on. Since the start of this program, they’ve donated more than 2000 homes to military families and committed to hiring 10,000 veterans and service members over the next few years.
8. Telegraph Media Group (TMG)
Telegraph Media Group is the proprietor of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph. They have 6 ERGs that target and support different communities such as:
- Able (accessibility)
- Out Loud (LGBTQI+)
- Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
- Well-being and Working Families
The goal of these employee resource groups is to create a space of inclusion and belonging for everyone working at the company. To make this happen, the groups offer various workshops, virtual events, in-person gatherings, and open discussions around diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Thales Group is a defense and security company based in France. The company runs ERGs focused on five areas: Gender, LGBTQI+, Veterans, Neurodiversity & Accessibility, and Reconciliation. Each focus area has an employee resource group and an Executive Sponsor who work together on building a strategy and plan to support people identifying with that community.
Thales uses these ERGs to provide employees with mentorship, guidance, support, and skill development. The size of these ERGs varies upon needs but they all contribute towards Thales goals of creating an inclusive company culture.
Qualcomm, a wireless technology company, runs about 8 employee networks and resource groups focusing on minority groups such as AbilityQ, eQuality, Women, U2Q (university to Qualcomm), and so on.
The goal of these ERGs is to foster a safe, inclusive workspace through mentorship, career development, and more. The Qualcomm Women ERG in particular has chapters across global offices, leading to a wider impact.
Furthermore, Qualcomm has partnered with key players in the diversity and inclusion space, including the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and The Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
4 Tips for companies looking to support ERGs
What can your organization do to build and support employee resource groups? Here are 4 key tips to get you started building a strategic plan for your employee resource groups:
1. Set up a diversity and inclusion committee
Start by creating a DEI committee that can identify what areas need focus. This committee will help you:
- develop a practical and actionable diversity plan,
- determine who to partner with,
- collect feedback,
- run the programs, and more.
2. Provide personal and career development courses
As part of identifying your DEI partners, you should pay attention to ones that can provide personal and professional growth to your employees. That aside, you may even choose to offer L&D stipends to employees who wish to pursue their own interests. These courses will support their personal and career development by helping them attain new skills and networking with similar minds.
3. Hire a diverse workforce
This goes without saying but one of the best ways to build and support your ERGs is by hiring diverse professionals who belong to these communities. After all, that’s one of the key purposes of an employee resource group. These individuals understand the strengths and challenges of the people participating in such groups, and their perspectives can help you develop a better DEI strategy.
4. Encourage new hires to join ERGs
Finally, encourage new hires and those stepping into new roles to take advantage of this benefit. You may include this within your onboarding system or invite them after training.
To learn more, check out our guide on ERG best practices.
Can anyone join an ERG?
ERGs are meant to be supportive rather than exclusive. The whole point of these groups is to narrow down and identify ways in which an organization can support its underrepresented employees as well as expand its company policy to reflect their needs and challenges.
So, anyone who identifies with these communities can join their respective ERG to gain the support they need and network with the right individuals.
One thing that most of these employee resource groups examples seem to have in common is providing mentorship. After all, one way to work on your professional development is by channeling the guidance and knowledge of a mentor who has already excelled in said career path.
With that in mind, your organization can use Together Platform to seamlessly connect members via mentorship as part of your ERG initiative. Through our platform, you ensure that members are matched with relevant mentors determined by the skills and experiences they want to advance in their careers. Learn more about our mentorship platform.