How Reddit Uses ERGs to Create a Sense of Belonging at Work: Q & A
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Why millennials upvote Reddit as a great place to belong.
Millennials love working at Reddit – 95% of employees say it’s a great place to work (FYI: the U.S. average is just 59%, based on our survey of the U.S. workforce).
We studied Reddit’s employee survey responses to find why and one reason the company stands out is for how it creates an authentic sense of belonging for its millennial employees.
It’s this belonging that earned them top marks from their employees – and in turn, a place on the 2020 Best Workplaces for Millennials™ list.
You’ve probably heard about diversity and inclusion before, but authentic belonging is the critical companion to fully realizing D&I’s potential. When individuals can bring their authentic selves to work and feel a part of the team, they feel accepted for who they are and are willing to share their unique perspectives.
Authentic belonging is created when employees are treated as “insiders” and are encouraged to retain uniqueness within their work group. When employees feel authentic belonging:
- Teams perform better
- Individuals develop more
- Diverse groups connect better
When asked what makes their company culture unique, Reddit’s employees often mentioned this feeling of belonging.
What employees say
“Generally, like the product itself, everyone is encouraged to be themselves.”
“My colleagues are the type of open-minded, funny, fun, collaborative, real people with whom I want to work. Reddit values people who are different, and at work, we are rewarded for it.”
“Internally, there is a real sense that you can be quirky, weird, individual self.”
“There is a sense of community and an effort to make everyone feel like they belong.”
“Interactions between employees are intentional and respectful, there is a sense of community and an effort to make everyone feel like they belong.”
It’s clear that Reddit employees are encouraged to “fly their freak flag.”
What builds belonging in the workplace
From studying more than 100 million survey responses over 28 years and the practices of the Best Workplaces™, we know there are three experiences that help employees feel like they belong.
- Getting recognized for their efforts
- Feeling involved in decisions
- A strong welcoming of people to teams and welcoming of ideas
Reddit outshines other companies in all these areas.
After interviewing the People & Culture team at Reddit, it became clear that Reddit’s robust Employee Resource Groups (ERGs or “Eregs” as they call them) are pivotal in bringing out the experiences that create belonging for employees.
How Reddit uses ERGs to create a sense of belonging for employees
Great Place to Work®: I noticed that in Reddit’s employee survey results that employees score the company high on:
- Intimacy – the extent to which people can be themselves and count on each other and;
- Belonging – feeling accepted as a member or part of a group balanced with a sense that their unique self is valued.
How does Reddit create this environment of belonging and intimacy?
Reddit: Reddit is growing rapidly, and with this growth, we put an emphasis on creating shared memories across the organization.
A large component of these shared memories is driven by Reddit’s Employee Resource and Interest Groups, which are voluntary, employee-led groups dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment.
Resource groups help influence and support our company’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging goals, while also providing an open space for employees to connect and cultivate discussions that support both personal and professional development.
At Reddit, having inclusive teams and programs means that individual values and different perspectives are embraced and sought out. These viewpoints help employees challenge themselves and one other to think unconventionally as we continue to evolve and scale the platform and shape the culture at Reddit.
Additionally, Reddit’s Experience team carves out opportunities for employees to connect and create shared memories together.
For example, while employees are remote, we’re keeping things interesting and helping people across the company stay connected by coordinating weekly work from home challenges with a Reddit flair.
From an r/BlunderYears-style quiz of employees’ most hilarious childhood photos to house tour videos à la MTV Cribs, employees make the most out of working remotely.
We also embrace many different international holidays and annual observances, including celebrating the Chinese New Year with small gifts for employees and partnering with local food caterers to provide culturally relevant food for Black History Month.
Great Place to Work: Our research tells us that seeking employees’ feedback on decisions that impact them goes a long way in making employees feel they belong. Can you give specific examples of what this looks like on an average day at Reddit? How are employees able to speak openly and give feedback?
Reddit: We have a weekly company-wide All-Hands meeting that carves out space for employees to ask questions for our CEO, Steve Huffman, and other senior leaders to answer.
Additionally, we have an internal company subreddit which acts as an alternative channel to Slack for employees to share ideas and team insights as well as ask questions and provide feedback on projects or decisions.
Great Place to Work: Tell us about Reddit’s ERGs (Employee Resource Groups). Can you name them and what causes they represent?
Reddit: At Reddit, we have several voluntary, employee-led groups dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. While each group is unique to one another, they offer mentorship, friendship, career development, and support, and are aligned with, and influence, our company’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging goals.
There are currently nine resource groups including Black People Reddit, LGBTQIA+ Snoo, Organization for Latinx Employees, Reddit Asian Network, Trans @ Reddit, Veterans, Women Engineering, Women in Product and Women of Reddit.
Great Place to Work: How were Reddit’s ERGs formed?
Reddit: Reddit’s ERGs were first introduced in 2017 and are formed through a grassroots process. Employees are supported and encouraged to establish new ERGs that represent them and a broader group of people at Reddit.
Great Place to Work: Why are ERGs important for the culture at Reddit?
Reddit: Our culture is a reflection of Reddit itself. We have sub-communities for varied interests that bring a sense of community and belonging to all employees.
As we continue to scale and grow, we have put an emphasis on fostering a culture and workplace that provide a space for people to recognize and respect the many different voices and backgrounds at Reddit.
ERGs help fill that space by offering support and a safe environment where people can have open conversations and share experiences with one another.
These groups also provide more opportunities for education or community involvement. For example, many ERGs at Reddit help facilitate educational events for employees to participate in via AMAs (Ask Me Anything), Lunch & Learns, and open discussions.
Great Place to Work: How does Reddit use ERGs in the day-to-day or to inform big decisions?
Reddit: Each ERG’s mission and goals are aligned with, and influence, our company’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) goals. To uphold this, each group has an executive sponsor that acts as a thought partner, sounding board, and advocate in conversations beyond ERGs.
These executives are deliberate about how they hold their roles as sponsors as they influence big decisions and weave in feedback from resource groups. This means that ERGs are empowered to provide thoughtful perspectives on important company decisions, programs, or initiatives.
Recently, Reddit’s People & Culture team conducted an active listening tour around the company to have candid and insightful conversations with employees on their roles and where they needed support. Part of this included having deep discussions with ERGs and gathering feedback from these groups to help shape the DIB roadmap for the company.
Great Place to Work: How has your company used ERGs to advance diversity and inclusion or any other efforts? (For example, were your ERGs involved in pivoting to COVID-19 or response to the Black Lives Matter movement?)
Reddit: Across the company, we’ve had ongoing conversations around allyship and how we as a company show up, speak out, and take action. In addition to working on changes across our platform including an update to our content policy, we also have been reevaluating our approaches internally.
Part of that has included our ERGs leading the charge on important activations and initiatives at Reddit in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
For example, in addition to having a company-wide Service Day in honor of Juneteenth, our Black People Reddit ERG penned a letter to employees outlining the significance of the day and providing key resources on how to practice allyship and encouraging continued education on these important issues.
Great Place to Work: How do you measure the success of ERGs?
Reddit: Because ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment, they are not held to explicit measures of success.
Each ERG establishes goals and initiatives that they plan on achieving, which range from creating community and belonging across their specific groups to increasing the number of employees within their diversity groups through recruiting efforts.
Our goal at Reddit is to support and bolster our ERGs in the pursuit of their goals.
Great Place to Work: How do you see Reddit’s ERGs evolving?
Reddit: As we continue to grow, scale, and work to become more diverse and inclusive, we expect ERGs to evolve as many of the communities on Reddit have as well.
For example, some will grow large enough to support more groups within them—such as our Women of Reddit group, which now has a Women in Engineering subgroup, and our LGBTQIA+ group, which also has a dedicated Trans @ Reddit ERG as well.
Additionally, as individual ERGs grow, many will have enough members to drive more projects such as hosting live or virtual Ask Me Anything (AMA) and recruiting events.
New ERGs will also form as we bring in more employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences, the most recent example being our Veterans ERG.
Why belonging is better
When we looked at companies where employees had a high feeling of belonging, the word “embrace” came up often in survey responses. Best Workplaces like Reddit aren’t just “accepting” of diverse backgrounds – they “embrace” them. Their employees sense real allyship and belonging versus being at a place they feel like they need to assimilate to.
If your workplace is more than just diversity and inclusion – but belonging too, nominate your company for one of our Best Workplaces lists.