KOPE Life Podcast
Jean Payne w/ Charleson Gaines

When I worked in the corporate world, I worked for an amazing Fortune 200 company that now ranks in the 100 best companies to work for in the world. They tried to launch an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program for over 20 years but had been unsuccessful. Why was is it so difficult to get the ERG program off the ground? A large part of the problem lay in a lack of understanding of what constitutes an ERG. ERG groups are often confused with Affinity Groups, but Affinity Groups do not have a business case to exist. They operate within a very informal framework and are too often used as forums for socialization and airing complaints. They lack the methodology, framework and metrics ERGs provide.

 

So, what are best practices for establishing an ERG?

  1. Make sure championing leadership understands the difference between an Affinity Group and an ERG. Unlike Affinity Groups, ERGs have a business reason to exist and are held accountable to show results. ERGs have metrics that measure attracting, developing and retaining talent. Convincing leadership of a business case may be a marathon that could take months, but the difference is notable.
  2. Make the Executive Diversity Council (EDC) report directly to the CEO. The Council should be the overarching governing body for the program. ERG should not reside under Human Resources.
  3. Once formed, the ERG should run like a business. It should have a business plan chair (CEO), a co-chair (VP) and focus area leads for developing and attracting talent. Clear measurable goals should be established by working in conjunction with stakeholders, talent and development and human resources. Do not come up with a business plan in a silo—work with stakeholders to focus on initiatives that align to the vision and goals.
  4. Secure a budget. If this is important to company leaders, they will make an effort to ensure you have funds for initiatives.
  5. Report results no less than twice a year to the EDC to continue to get buy-in.
  6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Leaders and employees need to hear that you are running a program that is making a difference and not using company resources to run a social club. Make sure everyone understands what ERGs are, and that although they are focused on a specific ethnic group everyone is welcome join.
  7. If you are not able to get an entire program approved, start with a pilot program to test the ERG concept for a year.

 

Collaboration is key. I worked with an amazing female senior vice president who was committed to this initiative and always had my back. Together, we worked with the EDC, company leaders and employees to socialize and launch an initial pilot program of two ERGs. Eight years later this amazing company has a formal ERG program with eight employee resource groups.

 

TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, W.Va. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.

 

Do you need help creating an ERG? Contact us at info@tiverbatim.com.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) transverses all aspects of our society. Government and commercial organizations and schools have started focusing on building DEI strategies and implementing DEI focused programs. In June 2021, the White House signed an Executive Order promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. But what is meant when we speak of equity and how does it differ from equality?

 

Equality refers to giving everyone the exact same resources or opportunities; whereas equity calls for fair and impartial distribution of resources or opportunities based on the needs of the recipients. When we speak or promote DEI, the narrative regarding inclusion, equality and fairness is a common theme, but equity is overlooked and substituted with equality.

 

The lack of equity is closely related to the differential treatment of minorities. This differential treatment is not only observable in the work environment, but we also see issues of diversity and lack of equity and inclusion in sports. An analysis of DEI in The Recreational Sports Journal recognizes the growth of diversity in sports and the responsibility to tend to the needs of diverse students (French & Cardinal, 2021). The article suggests going beyond equality and moving into an equitable space to ensure sports recognize diversity and provide programs accessible to all.

 

There are also issues with equity within the healthcare industry. The lack of access to healthcare and other existing disparities led to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aimed at ensuring equitable access to care and avoiding disparity in treatment within diverse populations (Watson, 2011).

 

Equity also plays a role in the administration of justice. Implicit bias affects routine traffic stops, police wellness checks and court sentencing. This biased baseline sheds some light as to why our criminal justice system, although touted as fair, just and equal, has some very disproportionate and disparate results skewed against certain groups.

 

Equity can lead to equality, but not the other way around. When developing DEI strategies and programs it is important to do the work to understand the limitations and barriers that may be preventing equality. To address the inequalities in our society it is not sufficient to just throw more equality into the mix. Organizations, processes and systems require an impartial assessment to look into the root causes of the imbalance so that the proposed solution provides equity and eventually equality.

 

TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, WV. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.

 

References

French, M.T. and Cardinal, B.J. (2021, April 1). Content Analysis of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.  Recreational Sports Journal, 69-77.

Watson, S. D. (2011). Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act: Civil Rights, Health Reform, Race, and Equity. Howard Law Journal, 55(3), 855–886.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy?

Before I started TI Verbatim Consulting (TIVC), I worked for the corporate world and vividly remember being asked to provide a business case for allocating funds towards DEI. This is still happening today, even with all the research supporting the many benefits of DEI, including enriching an organization’s identity, enhancing employee engagement, and increasing positive customer experiences and company revenue.

 

Oftentimes, even when DEI is socialized and money is invested, the program is built around symbolic activities that achieve very little. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chili cook off and diversity fairs and appreciate the social bonding they provide. But these types of events should only be executed as celebratory occasions that are a product of a successful DEI strategy and execution. A purposeful and meaningful DEI strategy requires time and commitment that is championed by all layers of the organization.

 

When a company or organization commits to developing a thoughtful and thorough DEI strategy, the following tactics should be a part of the execution strategy:

  1. Top-Down Buy-In. It should always start at the top. If leadership is not vocalizing the business case, the commitment required for success is not there. Without clear messaging from leadership there will be no accountability.
  2. DEI Should Not Report to Human Resources. If you are serious about DEI, the program should belong to and report to directly to the CEO. Human Resources should never be responsible for the development and implementation of the DEI program.
  3. Create an Executive Diversity Council (EDC). The EDC should be made up of senior leadership. In larger organizations, it should be compromised of senior officers from all business units. The EDC reports directly to the CEO and should be instrumental in the development and implementation of the DEI strategy.
  4. Create Departmental or Business Unit Diversity Councils. These should be made up of the workforce and led by mid-level leaders who will support and socialize the strategic DEI goals and program implementation.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Remember if the workforce doesn’t see it or hear about it—it doesn’t exist. The more you communicate DEI goals and benefits, the more employees will support it.
  6. Create Accountability. Develop metrics for all goals and objectives and hold leaders accountable.
  7. Continuously Assess and Make Refinements. Monitoring progress and setbacks allows for adjustments where needed to ensure overall success.

 

Organizational investment and commitment into attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce based on measurable goals and objectives will ensure accountability and set up a solid framework for strategy development. Tactics may include the development of a new onboarding program, instituting an intern program, launching employee resources groups or making a commitment to increase recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

 

DEI strategies fail because they are created in a silo, don’t incorporate the workforce, leadership is not fully committed or the process is rushed. Creating and sustaining a DEI program is a marathon, not a sprint—it requires proper training and preparation and full dedication and support.

 

TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, WV. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.