What Works & What Doesn't: Employee Resource Groups
In my experience launching, re-activating, and advising inclusion/affinity/employee resource groups (ERGs) at some of the Bay Area's most impactful tech companies and businesses, these important support networks have a lot of ambition, but without careful focus, not much impact.
Engaging all levels, especially management and HR, in a strong, measurable strategic plan to remedy identified issues. (To make real change, companies need a multi-pronged, integrated approach that touches policy, culture, managerial views, corporate norms, and the entire corporate ladder.)
Crunching company data to determine if/where there are issues.
Focusing on the main areas of potential bias: recruiting, hiring, mentoring, promotions.
Addressing these additional areas: parental policies, retention, culture/environment, pay disparities, leadership.
Shifting company policy and reinforcing middle manager execution.
Shifting the company culture to include more than one form of “good culture fit,” ways of innovating, manners of speaking, ways of idea generating and leading…
Not expecting women/minority employees to solve diversity/inclusion. (i.e. Bringing in experts.)
Auditing and improving current D&I efforts (bias training, affinity lunches, mentoring circles…)
Going with your gut.
Responding to one negative incident with a quick fix.
Assuming it’s all broken.
Assuming it’s all going to work itself out.
Spending most of your attention and money on getting women/minorities to “lean in” or “level up” without engaging company and managerial realms.
Only addressing parenting issues, but not fixing the big issues of recruiting, hiring, mentoring, and promotions.
Solely looking at a pay gap calculation.
Asking women to conform to your “bro culture” or expecting minorities to “code switch” into the majority culture.
Handing critical diversity/inclusion work to a woman or minority employee who may be an amazing business person or engineer, but who is not practiced as an inclusion strategist.
Just doing one unconscious bias training and a few women’s/minority group lunches.
An annual speaker or workshop.
Doing 'lots of diversity stuff' without measurable results.
Assuming your current efforts are worth keeping. (If they don’t have goals or targets related to company-wide inclusion, they might be more of a waste of time. And distracting your staff from the real answers.)
If you're still craving more insight about what to do [and what not to do], read "10 Hard Truths for Workplace Women's Initiatives" or "Don't Waste Time Measuring Pay Gaps."
Copyright © EMMH, LLC, 2019.
Written by Femily, "Silicon Valley's Gender/ Equity Advisor," founder of the Executive Women's Forum at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco; expert media source/writer/speaker on workplace gender inclusion; and founder of the American Association of Corporate Gender Strategists.