Employee resource groups (ERGs) are not just a passing business trend. In fact, ERGs can be found operating in 90% of Fortune 500 companies. As more and more companies commit to diversity and equity in business through the creation of inclusive workspaces, ERGs have become increasingly common in the business world. You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company in order to have an ERG or to use them for driving professional development. Leveraging your ERG to provide skills training, foster mentorship, and expand career opportunities begins with communicating with your ERG’s members.
The first and most important step is to find out what actual skills your ERG’s members want and need to learn. Schedule both one-on-one and collective consultations with ERG members, whether online or in-person. Make sure all voices are heard. This feedback is crucial in paving the way for professional development opportunities – not only among those already involved, but also among other workers that your ERG wants to help.
Look to your company’s own existing programs for any resources that can help with immediately addressing your ERG’s core feedback. Tap your own internal experts to facilitate online training for different professional skills. If you don’t have the resources to do this properly, don’t hesitate to tap external training providers for help. The good news is that this is easier to do now in the digital era, as avenues for professional business training and education are rapidly moving online.
Today, increasingly popular online skills programs are streamlining the learning process for in-demand business skills across enterprises. Graduates of today’s flexible and online business administration degrees can look forward to landing in-demand roles as financial or data analysts, human resources or operation managers, and coordinators – jobs that are expected to grow by 5% until 2029. For volunteer-employees within your company, pursuing such clear-cut opportunities for professional development is much easier with the support of their respective ERG. As ERGs can act as the voice of employees in terms of getting such in-depth and online training opportunities approved, they can be the bridge that previously marginalized employees can use to actually advance in their respective specializations.
Once you’ve identified your options in terms of training providers, you can start creating a comprehensive training program for all concerned ERG members. And apart from extensive online courses, this can include virtual workshops, one-day training sessions, and other forms of hybrid, virtual, and in-person training. This can be observed in VetNet, an ERG for military veterans under tech giant Google.
“The organization has held numerous in-person and virtual resumé review and career workshops, engaged in and supported veteran and military spouse-focused nonprofits and charities, and created tools and programs to advance career aspirations for the military community,” explained VetNet Global Lead, Mike Benedosso. “VetNet closely partners with other Google teams, like Grow with Google and Google Cloud, who design tools, products and avenues to empower the community. Through this work, VetNet has learned that veterans, service members and military spouses all possess the skills and drive to contribute to and create impact for any organization, Google included.” In short, a well-planned ERG-based training program can be of great value to both companies and employees.
Closely observe changes in the productivity levels of those involved in your training program. See whether or not your ERG’s efforts at professional development are actually creating potential leaders among members. Examine how your new programs have affected your long-term retention and turnover rates. The more you know about how you ERG-based training program affects your workers, the better your ERG can further aid in their overall professional development.
This goal is in fact deeply connected to the core ERG purpose of creating highly supportive and inclusive workspaces. Apart from ensuring that those in the peripheral have a safe and effective space to voice and act upon their concerns, the opportunities for professional development that can be unlocked by ERGs make them integral to the survival of modern enterprises. If your business doesn’t yet have its own ERG, then it might be time to explore forming one.
Article was specially written for www.chezie.co by Aileen Conner