5 Things to Consider when starting your ERG program

Anisha Nandi
Anisha Nandi
Co-Founder, CEO

Starting an Employee Resource Program can feel like a lot to take on at first. But rest-assured, you’re not alone.

Since 2020 ERG programs & commitments to diversity has skyrocketed. Hiring for experts in workplace diversity has increased 90% since 2019  according to LinkedIn and McKinsey found there was a 35% increase in companies support or expanding ERG programs.

If you’re thinking of starting an ERG program, or expanding support for it, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Set Goals from the start

By establishing your goals from the get-go, it gives you, your team and your company leaders a clear line of sight into what success looks like. Often if you don’t set goals at the beginning, it can be hard to measure whether or not your ERG program is accomplishing what you’d hoped it could for your company’s culture and strategy. Check out our guide on Goal-Setting here if you want to take a deeper dive.

2. Gauge interest from your employees

Every employee base is different, so knowing what types of groups your employees identify with should be informed by them. Make sure you’re getting their input on what types of ERGs would be helpful, what they’d like to see from an ERG program and how they can get involved. Some common ERGs we see formed early on are Women, Caregivers, BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities. Be sure not to make assumptions here though - sending a simple survey or holding focus groups can be a great way to start to gauge interest from your employees.

3. Get buy-in: both from company leaders & potential ERG leaders

Now that you’ve set your goals and gauged interested, it’s time to get buy-in. Set up conversations with those in leadership (i.e. C-suite execs, VPs, etc.) who feel passionately about these efforts. Make it clear how they can help you champion the program - for example, they could be executive sponsors or specific ERGs or co-sign an approval for the entire ERG program. Getting their buy-in goes a long way in showing company commitment.

It’s also important to start to get an idea of which employees could be interested in leading specific ERG groups. You can start to have one-on-one conversations with employees that raised their hand to get more involved when you first started to gauge interest. From there, set clear expectations for what being an ERG lead would mean for them and how you’ll support them.

4. Be ready & willing for change over time

As your ERG program matures, it’s inevitable some aspects with evolve. You’ll likely add more ERGs than you initially started with. Those ERGs will get more membership. In addition to scope and size, the expectations might change as well. They could go from informing company culture, to also being key strategic stakeholders as well. This is natural and a good sign you’re providing value to the company.

5. Institute scalable systems

As your ERG program scales, it’s important to put real infrastructure around them. That could mean implementing budgets or a layer of software to track and measure the program. Make sure you’re thinking about how to put systems in place to capture institutional knowledge and historical context. This will make turning over ERG leads and showing success over time so much easier.

Keeping these strategies in the mind from the get-go will make sure your program is set up for sustainable growth and success. It’s never too early to start thinking about these opportunities - and your employees will thank you!

Check out our other guides: