Employee Network Group
It's been nearly 30 years since Employee Resource Groups started appearing in business organizations. They have become commonplace in U.S. companies and are growing in popularity in other countries and sectors, such as government and not for profits.
A study by Mercer's Global Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Practice
Funded in part by Industrial Relations Counselors (IRC)
Thirty years after the first employee resource groups made their appearance in US companies, they have spread to new regions, enlisted new generations of employees, and confronted new challenges. To understand how ERGs (also known as affinity groups or employee networks) have weathered time and adapted to their changing environment, we surveyed 64 employers and interviewed ERG program managers in 10 of those organizations.
We are currently in phase 2 of our study of employee resource groups, conducting interviews with diversity leaders in selected organisations. In the meantime, we’ve been crunching the numbers from phase 1 in which we surveyed 64 organisations about their ERGs. Some interesting trends are emerging. For one thing, we see some differences in practice between US-based companies and European organisations, especially around how ERG leaders and sponsors are managed:
Accountability of ERG Leaders
We have been seeing some interesting developments in Employee Networks (aka employee resource or affinity groups)—new kinds of Networks forming, new ways of managing them, new contributions they're making to the business. To learn more about these changes and the difference they are making, ORC is conducting a study (with funding from Industrial Relations Counselors, Inc.) consisting of two parts: a broad-based survey (going on now) and a series of interviews with selected organisations on the cutting edge of these new trends.
Many companies track intermediate measures, such as the number of hours Employee Network members volunteer for community projects, the number of members who attend network events, evaluation of development programmes offered to members through the networks. But measuring and publicizing the impact networks have on the business can go a long way to ensuring future support for the networks and giving them the tools to make more of a difference to the organisation.
In this two-and-a-half-hour workshop we explore how to make the most of employee networks for their members and for the company. You will learn best practices for gaining support for Network activities, magnifying your influence by collaborating with other Networks, and globalising your Network. As a group, you will begin the process of creating an integrated strategy that promotes the interests of the constituents of your network(s) and aligns with the organization’s business objectives.
ORC's presentation about employee networks includes definitions, prevalence, types of employee networks, existence of guidelines, value-add, pitfalls and how to avoid them. The presentation also covers what's changing, key trends, how to get business value-add from networks best practices, examples of innovative partnerships that "push the envelope", and left time for members' questions and comments.
April 2008 survey of Workforce Opportunity Network members on the processes organizations have taken to start diversity affinity groups.
Sixteen member companies responded to this mini-survey. 69% of members reported having affinity groups. These members described their programs in detail; including explanations about types of groups, their groups' funding allocations, challenges with their groups, and guidelines for theirs groups.