Employee resource groups (ERGs) are essential for any business or corporation fostering diverse and inclusive working environments. They are employee-led voluntary groups in which workers who share particular characteristics – like gender, interests, or ethnicity – can provide diversity and inclusion services, support, and opportunities for personal and career development.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at least 90% of major employers in the US have ERGs, showing how important they are for companies to refine their diversity, inclusion, and equity strategies. However, having an ERG doesn’t mean participants know how to get the most out of them. If you want to improve your ERG, consider taking the following steps:

Ensure They’re Voluntary

ERGs are primarily funded and endorsed by the executive management team of the business they’re created in. However, a company providing funding doesn’t mean they can choose who is and isn’t a part of the average employee resource group.

ERGs are entirely voluntary, which means employees shouldn’t feel pressured to join or participate, even if they ‘fit the mold’ of the people they are designed to attract. By keeping ERGs voluntary, you ensure all members are committed and passionate about their work.

Don’t Exclude the Company

ERGs are safe places for employees to feel supported by like-minded individuals. It’s easy for the average ERG to start feeling like an exclusive club that no one else can join, but excluding the company from ERG happenings can go against what inclusivity is all about.

While regular participant meetings are essential, don’t be afraid to organize open meetings and events for all company employees. The more interaction and collaboration you encourage, the more people can feel like they belong.

Promote the Benefits

Some company owners can be against sponsoring or funding ERGs because they don’t understand what they are or how they can benefit their business. Make those benefits known, and you might quickly get everyone on board.

Some advantages associated with ERGs include more effective recruitment, lower turnover rates, a more inclusive work environment, and more diversity of thought. Many companies also notice improved company culture and higher morale, often resulting in better customer service and a more favorable business reputation.

Organize Group Activities

ERGs are essential for creating workplace change and fostering feelings of inclusivity, but it can take time to know what to do at the average meeting. There are many group activities you can try.

Educational events known as ‘lunch and learns’ are always popular as they give employees a chance to eat and learn something simultaneously. You can hire professionals to cover various topics in these events, such as stress management, time management, and occupational health. You might also consider social events like parties, networking, team-building, and conferences.

Set a Meeting Schedule

Many people want to join ERGs to make a difference in their workplace, particularly regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion. However, irregular schedules and infrequent meetings can cause them to rethink their decision.

When an ERG is in its early development days, set a permanent meeting schedule. A set time and day will allow participants to ensure they’re free to volunteer their time.

Getting the most out of employee resource groups can be challenging, especially when they’re newly established or poorly run. However, by promoting the benefits, setting a schedule, and involving your whole company, you might be surprised by how valuable and rewarding they can be.