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Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are key to creating more inclusive, successful organizations, especially in light of the racial equity reckoning of the past several months.
But employees active in ERGs have it tough, and many company executives are unaware of the challenges. As a result, organizations are missing opportunities to make the most of ERGs and to recognize the groups as leadership incubators.
These are among the key findings of a new Great Place to Work® case study on ERGs. The research reveals that employees playing leadership roles in ERGs experience far less support for the groups than what company executives believe there to be.
ERG members also tend not see involvement in the groups as helpful to career progress, while business leaders assume that it will be. And when it comes to feeling a sense of belonging at work, there’s a significant divide between ERG leaders and their “executive sponsors”—senior company leaders who pledge to assist ERGs.
This research involved three Best Workplaces and roughly 80 ERG leaders and executive sponsors. We surveyed both ERG leaders and ERG executive sponsors to explore how similar their perceptions were on multiple issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
In the months since the murder of George Floyd, ERGs are emerging as a focal point of attention to equity issues in corporate America. ERGs are groups where historically marginalized employees have gathered to offer support to one another.
Members typically volunteer their time to hold meetings, arrange professional development activities and assist in company recruiting efforts.
Image: Voya Financial employees representing Disabilities and Special Needs and African American ERGs.
ERGs also are increasingly vital to business strategy as organizations seek to improve their diversity and inclusion outcomes, innovate more effectively and serve more diverse markets. And many companies have turned to them to learn more about how to create a truly For AllTM workplace, where everyone feels a sense of belonging and can bring the best of themselves to work.
Our study found that ERG leaders are positive about their organizations overall. More than nine in 10 respondents said their companies are consistently taking meaningful actions to create a better society for all.
Still, ERGs leaders face challenges. They typically lack budget, resources, authority and allies, and they feel underappreciated.
Information about the dearth of resources for ERGs also surfaced during Great Place to Work’s recent For All Now Forum, a gathering of diversity, equity and inclusion leaders. During the September event, one attendee shared this comment: “There’s more spent on a bagel budget than the ERG budget.”
Another participant made a similar point—suggesting that a company may offer a $100,000 donation to racial justice organization but put only $500 into the ERG budget: “Internal and external communications have to match.”
But it’s not just a money matter for ERG leaders. In our survey, 44 percent of the comments implied that work that goes unrecognized and lacks support and engagement from company leaders.
Image: ERGs at Reynolds American provide a network of support that fosters growth and development.
Although ERG leaders are generally stepping up to make their companies better, they have their doubts about how equitably their organizations make decisions about promotions. Just 64 percent of the ERGs surveyed reported that promotions are fair at their company; that’s 10 percentage points below the average at the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Finally, size makes a difference when it comes to ERGs. When groups have more people, they have more support and more influence. In our data, when groups have 100 members or more, they are 2x more likely to serve as a strategic resource for their organization.
The takeaways from the research are clear.
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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.
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The Best Workplaces in Asia List
Great Place to Work® identifies the top organizations that create great workplaces in the Asian and Middle Eastern regions with the publication of the annual Best Workplaces in Asia list. The list recognizes companies in three size categories:
To be considered for inclusion, companies must appear on one or more of our national lists in the region, which includes Greater China (covering China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau), India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka and UAE. For the 2021 Asia List, companies ranked on the national list in the Philippines will also be included. Multinational organizations must meet the following requirements:
Multinationals also receive additional credit for their efforts to successfully create an excellent workplace culture in multiple countries in the region. The data used in the calculation of the regional list comes from national lists published in 2019 and early 2020.