Progressing Towards Success – Maximize Your ERG for Business Impact

Helping ERGs Grow: Sharing JBC Tools for Success

We are excited to share with you highlights of a powerful Oct. 7, 2015 Jennifer Brown Consulting workshop that covered how effective Employee Resource Groups develop strategically.

Entitled “Progressing Towards Success: Maximizing Your ERG for Business Impact,” the event drew a packed house of more than 120 people eager to learn about our ERG Progression Model℠ – the JBC proprietary tool for strategic ERG development.

Held in Dallas at the Out and Equal Workplace Summit, the session featured three case studies of how this progression model has been successfully applied.

The three professionals who joined me in the presentation – Michael Spinella, a JBC senior consultant previously affiliated with Disney; Kevin England, diversity and inclusion manager at Bank of America; and Lisa Fain, senior director for diversity and inclusion at Outerwall – have been JBC clients experienced with our ERG work.

ERGs are internal employee groups dedicated to creating awareness and changing behaviors and mindsets around under-represented workplace populations.

JBC’s model helps ERG leaders and stakeholders cultivate the growth of their groups in five stages – from informal, ad-hoc beginnings as affinity groups to more mature and valuable resources that can help manage individual, team, and external partner interaction and activity, all while making an impact on business.

Development progresses from foundational to formalized, and then to functional, integrated, and then finally, dynamic. Managed well, ERGs become resources for retaining talent, cultivating inclusion and enhancing company reputation in the marketplace.

For each of these firms, ERGs followed the structure of the model, implementing real initiatives with concrete outcomes.

At Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, an African American diversity resource group called “Pulse” had a dynamic effect on the company’s acquisition of talent by discovering diverse gospel choirs throughout California, celebrating gospel music and engaging stakeholders in the community. Added benefit? Public recognition.

For Disney, JBC’s progression model provided a flexible framework that enabled leaders to identify the different support, knowledge and resources each ERG needed in order to mature.

“Groups can move both forward and backward,” Disney said, “especially during key events like leadership changes or strategic realignment.” The model provides a constructive lens through which to view these inevitable organizational changes.

Bank of America mapped out five “core pillars” for each stage that set criteria for growth, then added concrete objectives for the first three stages for the business pillars of recruitment, professional development, the workplace environment, business strategy and community involvement.

The outcomes for the bank’s LGBT ERG – known as the Pride Employee Network – included an LGBT Pride Ally guide and video and a Sharepoint database for out-at-work teammates and allies. Raising awareness has helped position the firm as a “brand leader,” the company said – one that supports its diverse customers as well as its employees.

At Outerwall, Inc., five different types of ERGs, called Business Resource Groups, developed distinct missions supported by the model. Whether promoting women or people with disabilities in the workplace, each BRG now represents the firm externally, drives new initiatives, and serves as a vehicle for internal support like mentoring and professional development.

One BRG, named “INcrowd,” supports LGBT professionals with a calendar of Pride activities throughout the year.

As the audience learned about the model through these results, they appreciated understanding where they are in their own evolution and shared ideas and challenges with each other in order to create an overall benefit for all kinds of ERGs.

Keep an eye out for our next workshop, or contact JBC for more information about this valuable tool.

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