Is your company looking for ways to turn friendly support groups into smarter, active teams that deliberately benefit the business? Are you looking for a quick read? Then pick up the new executive summary of “Executive Sponsors Fuel High-Performing ERGs.” The study’s findings identify the roles and best practices Executive Sponsors can embrace as they lead Employee Resource Groups to reach new heights of engagement, as well as produce and measure results-driven business improvements.
“The fact is, if you don’t really work at it, diverse teams don’t excel,” advises Jim Turley, past EY global chairman and CEO, in the paper’s forward. “They are either off-the-chart fantastic or awful. The difference in success or failure is the ability of leaders to exhibit inclusive behaviors and adapt to our changing workforce.”
Executive Sponsors can be those leaders
In this study, divided into five short sections, eight Fortune 500 companies made available 18 Executive Sponsors to engage in hour-long, one-on-one interviews with JBC, as well as a two-hour roundtable discussion involving 16 of the 18 participants. The result, a 38-page analysis of the information they shared, affirms what companies as different as Cisco, Deloitte and AT&T already know: Executive Sponsors are the hinges connecting ERGs and the companies that founded and hope to benefit from them.
A key insight in the report is the focus on skills that exemplify five roles Executive Sponsors may embody: strategist, evangelist, innovator, broker and mentor. Discussion includes how Executive Sponsors serving in one or more of these roles can help plan, promote, innovate, connect and teach – all while having an impact on the bottom line. Illustrations of participants “in action” are sprinkled throughout.
In one example exemplifying the role of “strategist,” Tuan Nguyen, Executive Sponsor for CAAN, Cisco’s ERG for its Pacific Asian employees, instituted a “disciplined, focused process for selecting projects.” The lesson? Be sure every group initiative is screened to support the company mission and add “real value” to the company, the report states.