Sharitta Marshall, founder of Visionary Development Consulting, walked us through the importance and benefits of ERGs, and how planning can only increase those benefits. She walked the audience through strategies for crafting annual plans that launch ERGs toward their goals while aligning with the overarching mission of their organizations.
Sharitta began by emphasizing the pivotal role of annual planning in ERGs. She underlined that an effective annual plan is not merely a budgeting exercise; it's a strategic roadmap that ensures the success, longevity, and sustainability of an ERG program. The plan is designed to serve not only the ERG members but also the organization as a whole. By setting clear objectives, ERGs can maximize their impact.
"The more participation from the organization as a whole, the more likely the plan is going to come to success because people are going to be invested in their part of it being successful.”
A recurring theme throughout the event was the importance of communication. Sharitta highlighted that strong communication within the organization is key for the success of any annual plan. It ensures that all stakeholders are aligned and aware of the ERG's goals and objectives. Accountability was another critical aspect, with ERGs needing to clearly define who is responsible for what within the plan. Transparent communication and well-defined responsibilities foster an environment of trust.
"You are making sure that people know you as an organization, as an ERG program are putting your foot to the pavement, your foot to the fire.”
Attendees learned about the numerous benefits of strategic annual planning. Sharitta explained how a well-thought-out annual plan can provide strategic clarity, alignment with organizational goals, efficient resource allocation, measurable impact, adaptability, enhanced communication, and continuous learning. Moreover, such planning can significantly contribute to the organization's bottom line by fostering a positive workplace environment and boosting the organization's brand.
"The benefits of strategic annual planning are so great that it is worth the investment in time, effort, energy, and possibly funding to make it what it should be. It's not just budgeting; it's a strategic plan for the success, longevity, and sustainability of your ERG program.”
Attendees were informed about the changing demographics in the workforce, with a focus on the growing diversity of employees. Sharitta pointed out that organizations need to cater to the needs of this diverse workforce, particularly the Gen Z employees who are looking for a work environment where they feel seen, heard, and valued. She underscored that a well-executed annual plan can be instrumental in achieving this goal, as it shows commitment to inclusivity.
The event discussed how an ERG's annual plan should be closely aligned with the organizational goals and objectives. Attendees were encouraged to tailor their annual plans to cater to the unique needs of their organization. This involves clear communication with senior management and the presentation of a compelling plan that demonstrates the direct impact of the ERG's initiatives on the organization's objectives. A tailored approach ensures that ERGs are a valuable asset to the organization.
Sharitta Closed out this session by really honing in on the key takeaways from the event and actionable steps you should be taking to plan your year:
Creating an annual plan for ERGs involves assessing the program, aligning it with organizational objectives, strategically planning initiatives, securing the necessary resources, and garnering support from leadership. Aligning ERG activities with the broader organization and executing plans that have a tangible impact on the workplace will not only make a bigger impact but will make the job of the ERG leaders that much easier.
This event is a great resource for organizations looking to increase the intentionality of their Employee Resource Groups. Annual planning is not just about numbers; it's about creating a strategy and plan that ensures that ERGs contribute significantly to the organization's success.
By understanding the importance of communication, accountability, and alignment, and by tailoring annual plans to organizational needs, companies can use their ERGs more effectively.
Sharitta's insights and guidance have provided organizations with a roadmap for success in their diversity and inclusion efforts. For those who attended the event, it was a step toward making their ERGs more impactful and relevant in today's evolving workforce, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive and successful organization. For those who didn’t attend the event…good thing you can find the recording below!