Top tips for running an Employee Resource Group
Author: Kim Dhatt
- Service Organisational design and change
- Date 10 August 2022
Our Origins ERG chair, Kim Dhatt, shares what she has learned supporting minority communities at TPXimpact by running an employee resource group.
I have always advocated for minority groups, whether I identify with the particular group or I just have more to learn about them.
So when TPXimpact announced they were launching Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in April 2021 to support various minority communities in the organisation, I jumped at the chance to be a part of this positive change.
ERGs are not a new initiative in the world of Diversity and Inclusion, but this was something new for our business. Especially in the context of the merger we went through to become TPXimpact, it was inspiring to be a part of. It still is.
Each ERG supports the organisation in helping to close the inclusion gaps for that community. So far, the Women, Origins, LGBTQI+, Neurodiversity and Allies ERGs have created safe spaces for our communities through virtual drop ins, hosted allyship sessions and lobbied senior leadership to undertake inclusion training.
I wanted to share my reflections and learnings on chairing two groups — the TPXimpact Origins and Women ERGs — in the hope that it helps others either in this position or looking to set up similar ERGs themselves.
Here are my top five tips!
1) Open communication with leadership is a must
As a Chair, I report to the Purpose Director, as well as to an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Committee. I’ve also been able to foster a relationship with our senior leadership team from the Managing Directors all the way through to the Chief of Staff.
This has been a game changer because it’s meant TPXimpact as a business has been responsive to concerns the ERGs have raised. Open communication has allowed us to work closely with our Purpose Director and leadership team to make change happen and implement initiatives. Without open communication with leadership, we might not have got here!
2) Give employees time and resources to focus on the ERG
There is absolutely no point in creating ERGs without carving out the time for employees to work on and be involved in them.
ERGs are time consuming and require the headspace to reflect, digest and respond slowly to changes in the world around us. Having the dedicated time to work on something so important has been transformational for employees at TPXimpact who want to get involved.
3) Hold space
Chairing a group was a new experience for me, I had no idea what to expect. Over time I’ve learnt the importance of holding space for the community I serve. By this, I mean giving people the space to speak openly without repercussions and share their thoughts. It’s a core part of chairing.
So is being able to relay the group's thoughts and sentiments to leadership, which has been challenging. Still, it’s taught me that change happens through difficult conversations, as long as you have a responsive leadership team, which also holds space for you.
4) Check your emotions and energy levels
When I have shown up to our group meetings tired, overwhelmed or in a negative headspace, it has reflected directly on the group. When I step into our meetings with a clear purpose, direction and good energy I have seen a direct shift in those around me.
Be aware of your energy and the ripple effect it can have. We’re often discussing emotive and heavy topics. Taking the time and allowing yourself space to digest information will positively affect the group you are holding space for.
5) It isn’t easy, but it's always worthwhile
It takes a lot of work to rally people around you, harnessing their passion and energy about extremely emotional subject matter and bringing about positive action together. Sometimes it can feel as though progress isn’t happening, that you are having the same conversations on repeat and you don’t have the power to make real change happen.
During those moments, remember that change happens in small steps. Make sure you keep gathering feedback to ensure you’re on the right track. I promise you it will be worth it.
A monumental but invaluable task
Chairing an ERG has at times felt like a monumental task, but working with each group and seeing the change we can have within the organisation has been invaluable. So if you have the opportunity to be involved in an ERG, I would encourage you to take it!