What are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?

Claire Hastwell

Author

Claire Hastwell

Author

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“The social object that unites people isn’t a company or a product; the social object that most unites people is a shared value or purpose.”

― Nilofer Merchant, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era

As workplace diversity and inclusion programs are becoming more prevalent, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are gaining in popularity.

ERGs have been around since the 1960s when black workers at Xerox organized to discuss race-based tension in the workplace. They are increasingly relevant today as gender issues, questions of personal identity and politics affect everyone.

So what are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?

Employee Resource Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve.

They usually led and participated in by employees who share a characteristic, whether it’s gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle, or interest. The groups exist to provide support and help in personal or career development and to create a safe space where employees can bring their whole selves to the table. Allies may also be invited to join the ERG to to support their colleagues.

Today, according to TopMBA, ERGs are found in 90% of Fortune 500 companies. Unsurprisingly, many Great Place to Work-CertifiedTM companies, including Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG LLPZillow, and AT&T, have ERGs.

Are Employee Resource Groups effective?

ERGs are credited with accomplishing goals such as:

  • Improving work conditions for alienated workers. ERGs help marginalized groups and remote workers feel connected through a common cause or interest.
  • Making the physical work environment better for everyone. For example, creating gender-neutral restrooms and improving physical or visual accessibility for employees.
  • Bringing employees together in a safe place where conversations can flow freely and everyone can feel comfortable sharing their experience.
  • Identifying and developing leaders in the making. ERG leaders can help identify emerging talent that might otherwise go overlooked due to unconscious bias. Participants can find new opportunities to connect with mentors and supportive colleagues across business units.
  • Tackling company-wide challenges. ERGs designed to address a specific topic or issue can help keep leaders in the know about issues or wins that are top of mind for the group members.
  • Lowering the chance of suppressed frustrations. ERGs can help surface an issue that might be too risky for an individual to share alone. This can help address problems quickly and alleviate toxic environments.
Why are Employee Resource Groups important?

We know that that innovation can only flourish when employees feel safe bringing their whole selves to work.

Image: Employee Resource Group members at Zillow get ready to march the Pride parade

 

ERGs build high-trust relationships that help companies flourish. The groups foster a sense of belonging and inspire conversation, bring new ways to look at issues and drive innovation.

Many executives at companies with ERGs find that they’re a critical resource for gaining deeper insights from their Trust Index™ survey results. When there are gaps in experiences, leaders often turn to ERGs to ensure that everyone, regardless of role or demographic, can succeed.

How should you start an Employee Resource Group?

Effective ERGs are both top-down and bottom-up. First, the executive management team needs to fully support, fund and endorse any ERG.  One best practice is to ensure that each ERG has a senior leader as their executive sponsor and full participant.

Then, invite all employees to participate in all ERGs, either as a member of the specific group or as an ally.

Interested in understanding how your employees view their relationships with their co-workers, managers, and leaders? Gather their experience with our employee survey.

Then invite your ERGs to help you use the data to help improve your company culture. It helps your employees, your managers, and your business.

 

Claire Hastwell

As the Content Program Manager at Great Place To Work, Claire helps decode the psychology behind high-trust workplaces using Great Place To Work’s extensive data repository on employee experience. Claire has co-authored noted reports such as “Women in the Workplace” and “The Power of Purpose at Work,” and contributed to Fortune with her profiles of the Best Workplaces™. Her latest report on employee retention strategies draws on the experience of 1.3 million employees to give leaders strategic guidance on retaining their top people. 

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Micro 10-29 Employees
  • Small 30-99 Employees
  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The Best Workplaces for Women™list is determined using Great Place To Work’sFor All™methodology to evaluate hundreds of Certified™Great Place To Work®organisations across Australia.   

Data is based on over 40,000 employee survey responses from women in Great Place To Work® Certified™ organisations across Australia. 

The survey 

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organisation’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. 

Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organisational data like size, location, industry, and the number of women in the workforce and management positions. 

Considerations 

Great Place To Work analysed the gender balance of each workplace, how it compares to each company’s industry, and patterns in representation as women rise from front-line positions to executive/C-suite roles. 
Survey data analysis and women’s representation figures are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience and opportunities for all women, regardless of their role or demographic background.   

Eligibility   

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™. Companies must also employ at least 50 women. We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, and investigate any employee reports of company in compliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Please note this list is NOT ranked. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Best Workplaces™ Australia 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of almost 50,000 employees across Australia.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organisation creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organisation, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyse these experiences relative to each organisation’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organisation to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

For larger organisations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organisations to share with us their practices, policies and programs to creating a great workplace For All™ and evaluating the approach they take.

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:

1.  The criteria we evaluate

2.  Where the data comes from