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How to promote diversity and inclusion ERG at your company

Danielle McClowApril 9, 2021AwarenessConnection

Train people well enough so they can leave; treat people well enough so that they want to stay.

Catchy mantra, but what does that mean in real life, and how do you treat employees well outside of offering competitive pay, benefits and perks?

The key lies in your ability to:

  • Treat employees like people (they aren't just a number added to your headcount)
  • Encourage a culture of belonging (they can also challenge existing norms)
  • Provide mobility and growth (they can't stay if there isn't a path to move up)

A significant driver towards cultivating an inclusive culture is encouraging employees to join and create employee resource groups (ERGs).

FUN FACT: ERGs were created in the 1960s by a group of black workers who wanted to expel workplace tension.

How do you create a DEI ERG?

To create a DEI ERG, you need first to identify interest and encourage employees to join the group. You'll then need to solidify the support of your HR department and leadership. Without backing by leadership and HR, the ERG would be a lunchtime chat.

The open forum meets monthly with breakout groups meeting on a bi-weekly basis. The breakout groups have more pointed areas of interest and a more refined set of goals.

Why is this ERG so important?

"Building community in the workplace is so important, particularly these days. Every workplace has so much work to do to create an environment that is comfortable and equitable for all employees, and it helps to join with a like-minded group of people to work toward a goal I know we're all passionate about."

-Julia Arnquist, Content Marketing Strategist, Symphony Talent

What does the DEI ERG do?

Once you create the group, you need to define the ERGs mission and goals.

First and foremost, the Symphony Talent DEI ERG exists as an outlet for listening and facilitating discussion on current events, trends, and improvement areas. The group has authentic conversations surrounding discrimination, violence, individual experiences and more.

While this is not always an easy conversation, organizations must provide a safe space for employees to speak and be heard. It's also a fantastic way to educate and empower employees on topics and help them see their development areas.

An example from a recent DEI session: In the wake of the increased brutal Asian hate crimes, ST's DEI Open Forum met to check in on members and discuss opportunities to share resources.

Why is it important to talk about difficult topics?

"Speaking about difficult topics opens the door to finding solutions to problems. After our discussion on the Asian hate crimes, it was clear many employees were feeling drained and required validation in their desire to communicate their needs with management.

I promised to talk with the leadership team and reiterate the importance of checking in with employees and communicating that breaks and days off are encouraged. Our people are our number one priority. When they are distracted, they suffer, and then our customers suffer."

-Roopesh Nair, CEO, Symphony Talent

What are DEI ERG goals?

As DEI continues to drive business success, the Symphony Talent DEI group created a set of goals to shape initiatives. The group wants to promote a culture of inclusion while simultaneously working to improve internal and external initiatives. (Told you, rockstars).

In addition to being a safe space for employees to share experiences and resources, the top four goals include:

  1. Diversify hiring initiatives and remove biases in hiring practice.
  2. Foster existing talent equitably through promotions and job-fit transitions.
  3. Create a fair and inclusive company culture that welcomes and celebrates all employees through its #daretobehuman campaign with particular attention paid to underrepresented or marginalized people's experience.
  4. Apply DEI lens to Symphony Talent products & services. Innovate & ideate around how to help clients achieve their DEI goals.

Why did you join the DEI ERG?

"I joined because it's the right thing to do - period. Our core values, including our #daretobehuman DEI campaign at Symphony Talent, resonate with my beliefs: celebrate each other and our united global teams; share in success by adding value and integrity to our work; dare to be different by challenging the what-ifs to simplify how we work; be an open book, to be honest with each other & share/request feedback to grow, focus on talent to develop ourselves and others.

But more importantly, the connection and purpose of feeling our best and bringing our best which we can share and pay forward within our community at ST."

-Emily Alvarez, VP People Success, Symphony Talent

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