The Multifaceted Power – and ROI – of ERG Summits

When it comes to Employee Resource Groups (or “ERGs”), we’ve come a long way.

Once considered merely social networks to support underrepresented groups, today they have become widely used tools in the organizational quest to create diverse environments that reflect our changing workforce and marketplaces.

These networks drive greater workplace inclusion and are laboratories for bringing our full selves – and all of our diverse identities – to work. They are a living, breathing example of how diversity drives business results, and all leaders should be paying close attention.

We documented this shift in our popular ERG Benchmarking Report, supported by long-time JBC client, Cisco, and frequently reference ERGs as a key leverage point in our thought leadership here at JBC. We have delivered hundreds of ERG-focused program and consulting hours, demonstrating our continued belief that empowering diverse talent is a key leverage point for the future of work, and of business. My best-selling book, Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will To Change, describes this in great detail.

Nearly every one of our clients struggles with how ERGs tend towards being silo’d, in that they don’t necessarily collaborate to the extent that they should, around the things that they should, or as often as they should. Sound familiar? In which case, we must ask the question: How do we bring ERGs back together to help create greater impact across your business?

We must bring them together, strategically, structurally and – most importantly – physically. This is the multi-faceted power – and ROI – of ERG Summits.

Here are a just a few more reasons why summits should be a key part of your diversity and inclusion strategy:

1. In our virtual world, in-person community matters more than ever

There’s a reason I go to conferences all the time where I can be physically present with practitioners and corporate partners in the same space. It’s because there’s a rapid transfer of knowledge and energy that happens which leaves me feeling creative and inspired – not to mention the fact that I get to deepen my network of friends, associates, colleagues and collaborators to lean on as I try to ride the waves of change, and progress.

The risk of isolation is real, and hurts our productivity, our efficiency, and our morale. There is no better way to connect strategies, to calibrate with one another, and to collaborate moving forward than investing in time together.

2. Think of an ERG Summit as an opportunity to gather your entire ecosystem together

And not just ERG leaders, but senior leadership, especially executive sponsors (so critical that we wrote our Executive Sponsor Whitepaper to document best practices), and CEOs who are driving culture change that allows everyone to feel Welcomed, Valued, Respected and HeardSM.

Speaking of senior leadership support, CEOs showing up and supporting inclusion efforts authentically is a key driver for workforce engagement, as we wrote about in recent months in our blog. It’s also the ideal opportunity to recognize ERG leaders and energize them for the road ahead by giving them visibility in front of senior leadership.

This is a critical talent pipeline that is worth investing in.

3. An ERG Summit is an opportunity to share best practices, collaborate around opportunities and challenges, and develop one voice as an ERG community that is inclusive and intersectional

When they are designed and facilitated skillfully, summits equip network leaders with strategic insights which are foundational to what happens for the rest of the year. They act as the beginning of an immersive exploration into the unique challenges that each ERG group experiences – one that requires skilled support and guidance long after the event has finished.

Whether you’re hosting your first summit or your 10th, here at JBC we believe in bringing a unique and customized approach to every ERG Summit – one that mirrors your organization’s objectives and culture, while (importantly) continuing the conversation throughout the year.

We do this in a number of different ways, leveraging industry leading tools, executive coaching, ERG scorecards, and providing selected reading – all while staying focused on positively impacting your bottom line.

We have designed hundreds of live and virtual programs dedicated to the development and inspiration of ERG leaders and their supporters and advocates, and have worked with companies with as few as four ERGs to companies with over 60 groups globally. We’ve truly seen – and done – it all!

If you would like to learn more about our approach, please contact us.

I can’t wait to see what we will be able to accomplish, together.