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Your secret weapon: Employee Resource Groups (Part 3)

April 17, 2014

In this third installment of a three-part series, D&I experts and longtime Linkage partners Erica Colonero and Robin Pedrelli explain how Employee Resource Groups can increase your bottom line. Click here to start reading from the beginning. —Ed.

Once your ERG is established, it can support the business and provide value to its members. It’s well-known that ERGs help to foster respect, drive awareness, and promote inclusion within the workplace. And over the past decade, organizations have seen the tangible impact ERGs have had on recruitment, talent management, community relations, and profits as well.

Overall, ERGs have been shown to move the dial in four key areas that can help improve your bottom line:

1. People -ERGs improve an organization’s access to diverse talent and retention rates.

2. Productivity -ERGs improve productivity by enhancing employee engagement and by providing essential leadership opportunities, training, and mentoring to their membership.

3. Community – ERGs enhance the feeling of community among members and play a major role in enhancing an organization’s “brand” by demonstrating corporate social responsibility and building and leveraging their community-based relationships. They’re also instrumental in supporting both the recruitment and retention efforts of many organizations.

4. Profitability – Established ERGs can be a powerful, in-house source of essential market intelligence on specific consumer buying preferences that usually result in significant sales increases in those specific areas. At Mattel for instance, they’ve leveraged their African-American ERG in their go-to-market and launch strategy for a line of dolls that were specifically designed for African-American girls. The ERG membership advised and guided Mattel’s Product and Marketing teams on everything from naming the line, to the overall look of the dolls, and the marketing strategy. That type of focus is critical to any successful product rollout.

While more and more organizations are leveraging their ERGs in efforts aimed at marketing and improving market share, it’s important not to lose sight of the original intention of ERGs, which is to create a sense of affinity and to support the success of underrepresented employee groups. The best ERGs create a safe environment where employees can voice concerns, discuss unique challenges, and then work on individual areas for development, thereby reducing the feelings of isolation among employee groups. As ERGs move along the maturity matrix, they provide value beyond traditional HR functions, from recruitment and retention, to personal development and engagement. And that’s good business.

To learn more about launching and fostering these groups, click here to view Erica and Robin’s  recent webinar Ready, Set, Strategy: Aligning ERGs with Business Needs.

Erica-RobinErica Colonero and Robin Pedrelli are longtime Linkage partners and founding members of VisionSpring, Inc., a diversity and inclusion consulting firm offering fully integrated strategy development, workforce planning, training, and continuous learning solutions to leverage diversity and inclusion as a driver of innovation and improved business outcomes.

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