The hidden power of employee resource groups

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People often call them employee networks, affinity groups, business impact networks and more. But most employee resource groups (or ERGs) share a common purpose: to bring employees together.

Companies have ERGs for a variety of different identities: what you do at work (groups for managers), what you do outside of work (groups for parents and caregivers) or how you see yourself (groups for women, Christians, Latinx employees, etc.).
“You’re there because you’re connected in some way, because you have a common belief or background,” says Lacey McLaughlin, CEO and cofounder of Flerish, a leadership development tool. “When they come together, role no longer matters.”
ERGs aren’t just good for the employees, McLaughlin says, they’re great for the company, too.
These groups can act as a powerful tool to promote diversity in the company. Plus, they often connect lower level employees to decision makers in the C-suite, giving voice to employees with ideas that may otherwise not been heard.

The ERG mission

While socializing and networking are huge parts of the ERG experience, the groups are also well-positioned to expand their influence beyond happy hours and special events. ERGs can also push huge changes at the company, updating hiring policies and putting newer employees in touch with senior leaders.
But McLaughlin says there’s an interesting dynamic between ERGs and firms. Some companies have great success in creating healthy, thriving ERGs, but they struggle to bring some of that energy back into the organization at large.