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Maceo Owens
August 12, 2022

7 Reasons Why Your ERG Program Needs Data

7 Reasons Why Your ERG Program Needs Data

Imagine you are about to board a plane. Suddenly, it has come to your attention that your pilot’s gauge isn’t working or that the plane doesn’t even have one. How comfortable would you feel to remain on that plane? 

Data is the “gauge” that ERGs need to know where they currently stand as a group and make informed decisions about the future. We’ve spoken with hundreds of ERG leaders and have learned that they typically don’t have any data past event attendance or Slack channel membership - we want to change that!

Here are 7 reasons why your ERG program needs data. 

Removes Subjective Language

When coming up with objectives for your ERG program, you may hear someone on your team say things like “this is not good enough” or “we don’t have enough engagement.” However, these phrases don’t say anything about what objective they want to achieve or what benchmark they’re referring to. Numbers provide clarity and expectations.

Once you are provided with numbers, you now have expectations that you can meet because there’s a clear number. With this in mind, when someone says that “we don’t have enough engagement,” you can begin asking them about the metrics they are looking at. From here, there are clear expectations that allow for accountability without the subjective language.

Between ERG Leaders 

When data is involved, ERG leaders can hold each other accountable. This will help the ERG define success for each leader and understand who is doing their job. For example, if you have a communications lead, measuring the Slack metrics and comparing them to past months will help the other ERG leaders how successful the communication efforts are. 

Between Program Managers and ERG Leads

For program managers, adding data into the conversation with your ERG leads allows them to talk about the ROI of their programming, with data to back it up. They can also speak to how the ERG is doing in comparison to other groups exclusively based on numbers.

Between ERG Leads and Senior Leadership

Executives speak in metrics. As such, when you speak to your ERG’s executive sponsors, you need to call out key metrics in order for it to resonate with them. This is a great way to explain the current state of your ERG and even ask them for advice on how to meet your goals with the metrics provided. 

Between ERG Leads/Program Managers and the D&I Team

Using metrics also helps ERG leaders when conversing with D&I leaders. By using these numbers, you can explain how your group impacts the overall D&I strategy and what success looks like for the ERGs.

Removes Opinions When Making Decisions

Opinions are currently dominating the D&I world, as people do things based on what they feel is best rather than based on facts. A hypothesis, on the other hand, is supported with facts. We should test hypotheses and theories with data to determine what will best support the ERG. So, what does that look like?

Between ERG Leaders

Rather than coming up with new ERG events based on what leaders “liked,” leaders need to look at how past events have performed. This will help determine what events will resonate with current members and which will encourage new employees to participate. Looking at the watch percentage of past events and the NPS scores will help ERG leaders to decide which event they should move forward with.

Between Program Managers and ERG Leads

Program managers who are speaking to their leads can better communicate the ERG strategy. Rather than removing chapters or making big decisions based on opinions and feelings, they can base them on what the numbers say. This also applies with comparing data to what’s happening externally on an industry standard.  

Between ERG Leads and Senior Leadership

Executives tend to be opinionated about ERG programming and efforts, and though they are well-intentioned, oftentimes, these ideas aren’t good for the group. At times, you may need to tell them “no” and it’s always good to have data to back it up. After all, data is a universal language that describes what works or doesn’t work. They’ll understand. 

Between ERG Leads/Program Managers and the D&I Team

Data will also give your team a clear idea on what the ERG should be focusing on. It helps D&I teams understand how the groups are selecting their big bet, how they are investing their resources, and how effective those investments are toward the overall D&I strategy. 

Removes Emotions

By solely operating on data and facts, hurt feelings are gone. When things change or you go against someone’s idea, you can back that decision up using the data that you have, which in turn levels the conversation and makes it an easier one to have. It also reinforces the notion that feedback and changes aren’t based on an individual person, but based on whether the numbers are where they should be. If a lead isn’t performing as well as they should be, it can help to center the conversation on the metrics that they’re not achieving when it’s time to offboard them. 

Morale Booster 

ERG leads are passionate, they want to do something to support their community by moving the needle forward. However, you cannot know where you’re going until you understand where you are. People who want to drive change will want a set of clear metrics and KPIs to be accountable for. When ERG leaders push back on numbers, that is a red flag. You cannot operate off of emotion, you will only hurt your ERG and its members and set back all of the progress the group has made. 

There will often be a bit of pride and friendly competition in trying to be better as a group. By focusing on metrics, you can easily rally your leads into working together to achieve these goals and maybe even surpass them. There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition!

Provides Clarity on Commitment

Having specific goals (with clear measures of success) is very important when onboarding new leads. It can help prospective leads know what is expected of them from a time and accountability standpoint, and assures that they won’t be surprised by any asks. If people know what success looks like, it will motivate them to better and even exceed expectations.

When leads are given goals, they can work backwards to better define what they currently need to do to achieve them. From there, the goals can be broken down to daily, monthly or quarterly objectives. It will make achieving the goal a bit easier and put the goal in a more present perspective. 

BONUS: Leads are better able to identify the goals they’ve achieved during performance review time. 

Numbers Get Results 

What gets measured gets improved. Because you have numbers, it’s easy to solve problems. It also makes it easier to know what problems exist and what problems need to be prioritized. Your team will be on the same page and decisions can be made faster.

Creates Teamwork 

Across the board, you can rally everybody toward your goals with the metrics you have. You can hold each other accountable, know what needs to get done, and even support one another if somebody is falling behind. It is easier to rally the entire team around clear goals and objectives. 

Final Thoughts

If your team is not collecting data, your team needs to start doing so. Metrics drive the strategy, give people an idea of what to expect, and will help you make decisions beyond opinions and feelings. By ensuring that you have data, and are holding yourself accountable to it, you are going to drive your group forward. You will help your ERG step closer to success and even drive the overall D&I strategy to greater heights!

Data in ERGs is still a relatively new concept. As such, you may not currently know where your ERG stands. If you want to learn more about what data to pull, what sources to use, and how to have a fully built out dashboard, don’t hesitate to book a demo with one of our founders!

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Maceo Owens

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