How to Start an Employee Resource Group in 5 Steps

March 7, 2018
By

employees at an employee resource group

We love our ZeneWomen here at Zenefits. This female-centered employee resource group unifies coworkers who share a passion for learning, offering mentorship, and fostering lasting connections which enhance and support women’s success in the workplace. From booking guests to hosting book club discussions, Zenewomen is always planning something fun and educational. In the name of International Women’s Day (cue the confetti), we’re proud to exhibit one of our most successful employee resource groups and give you some tips so that you can build your own!

According to a recent CWB report, approximately 90% of Fortune 500 companies have employee resource groups– and you should too. 

The Do’s and Don’ts to starting an employee resource group in your company:

  1. Make sure there’s diversity within your resource group. In the case of a woman-centered group, be cognizant of including women from the LGBTQ community, women of color, and women with disabilities. Ensure there is a range of people within your leadership roles– because representation matters!
  2. Don’t be exclusionary. While it’s of utmost importance to include people from all backgrounds, it’s good to keep it balanced. Incorporating majority voices when it’s appropriate helps to integrate your group into the larger office culture, which should be a priority. At Zenewomen, this means welcoming all employees who want to join, including men!
  3. Promote, promote, promote. You want everyone in your office– and your company– to know your employee resource group exists. When first starting your ERG, it’s a good idea to host a launch or kick-off party to make your presence known. Another good way to spread the word early is to incorporate all your resource groups into the onboarding process for new employees.
  4. Don’t be shy about funding. There’s no way around it– you’ll need financial help to succeed. While asking for funds, it’s best to promote the “hard skills” that you’ll discuss within your group. Addressing fluffy topics such as “work-life balance” is not as compelling as quantifiable skills. Think negotiation, productivity, internal communication, etc.
  5. Let others lead. Once you’ve put a good structure in gained and built some momentum behind your ERG, allow others to take positions of leadership and guide the group in new directions. If you keep discussions and themes open to debate, the group will grow and blossom!

 

Celebrate the women in your office on International Women’s Day by kicking off a new resource group (hint: equal pay day is just around the corner). And don’t stop there; ERGs can be good support systems for those who share a common age, ethnic background, niche interest, or anything else.

 

Happy Resource Group-ing!

About

After working in the field of psychology research for years, Bella loves sharing what she's learned in a more directly impactful context. She's interested in the intersection of people and business, and wants to promote conversations about HR. She's an amateur ceramicist, pro dog walker, and produces podcasts on the side.

Category: HR Tips & Trends, Culture


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