A young woman sharing her ideas with a team sitting in circle at office.
ERG leaders often face numerous challenges, including a limited budget and a lack of resources. It’s important, therefore, to have buy-in from the top when starting an ERG. — Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are internal committees made up of employees from a specific interest group. These groups provide support, community, and ongoing career development opportunities. Here are six best practices for starting an ERG.

[Read more: How to Start an Employee Resource Group]

Create a mission statement for the ERG

The first step to creating an ERG is to come up with a mission statement — this declaration defines the group’s purpose. The mission statement should outline why the group was started, who it’s trying to reach, and where group members feel the missed opportunities are.

It should also explain how the ERG will benefit the business over the long run. The ERG’s mission statement should be aligned with the company’s business objectives.

Set goals for the ERG

The best way to set your ERG up for success is by creating goals for the group. There need to be clear expectations for what success looks like and clear benchmarks so members can track their progress.

As the group sets goals, they should continually refer back to both the ERG’s mission statement and the company’s values. It’s also important to think about the timeline for each goal and whether it’s a short-term or a long-term goal. Can it be broken down into different tasks with a clear timeline?

Finally, think about how success will be measured for each goal. Are there key results you can point to, like increased employee engagement or improved retention?

[Read more: 10 Goal-Setting Methodologies for Entrepreneurs]

Gain buy-in and support for the ERG

Research from Great Place To Work found that 100% of executive sponsors felt that company leadership encouraged participation in ERGs. However, only 52% of ERG members agreed with that sentiment.

ERG leaders often face numerous challenges, including a limited budget and a lack of resources. And most ERG leaders feel unappreciated and that they don’t have enough allies within the organization.

That’s why it’s important to have buy-in from the top when you’re starting an ERG. If possible, have one of your C-level executives sponsor the ERG — this kind of support will make the group much stronger.

ERGs are often seen as a way to provide community and support to employees, but they are also a great way to provide career support.

Provide professional development opportunities

ERGs are often seen as a way to provide community and support to employees, but they are also a great way to provide career support. ERGs can provide the following professional development opportunities for members:

  • Guest speakers.
  • Stipends to support ongoing learning.
  • Ongoing skills training.
  • Webinars and book discussions.
  • Conferences and workshops.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask the group members what kind of professional development opportunities they would like to have access to.

[Read more: What Is Employee Training and Development?]

Measure the ERG’s effectiveness

One of the biggest challenges of starting an ERG is that most companies have no way of assessing the group’s effectiveness. That’s why DRR Advisors created the 4C ERG Assessment Model. ERGs can be evaluated on the following four elements:

  • Career:How does the ERG contribute to its members’ professional development and career advancement?
  • Culture: How does the group strengthen company culture and increase understanding within the organization?
  • Community: How does the group improve the internal or external community?
  • Commerce: How does the ERG improve the company’s business outcomes?

You can use this assessment model as a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of your company’s ERG.

Promote your ERG regularly

Regularly promote your ERG both internally and externally. You want to promote it within the company so that more people will be encouraged to get involved and join the group.

Size matters, and the more members your ERG has, the bigger resource it can be for your company. The Great Place To Work study also showed that when ERGs have more than 100 members, they are twice as likely to serve as a strategic resource for a company.

You also want to promote your group on job postings, career sites, and anywhere you share information about your company. Promoting your ERG can make your company more attractive to job seekers and help you attract more diverse job candidates.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Simplify your startup’s finances with Mercury
Navigating the complex finances of a growing startup can be daunting. Mercury’s VP of Finance shares the seven areas to focus on, from day-to-day operations to measuring performance, and more.
Read the article