Representation is key so that everyone can bring their authentic self to work each and every day.
When I first started at ConvaTec, I had never heard of Employee Resource Groups. It wasn’t until an email came out from our HR Department that they were interested in developing ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) within our organization. As soon as I learned more about what ERGs are, why they’re important, and how to get involved in them, I was certain that I needed to be involved. I recall reaching out to our HR team to express my interests and ask about next steps in helping with the LGBTQ+ ERG. I was pleasantly surprised when they responded asking if I would like to take on creating the ERG and co-leading it with another colleague of mine – a couple weeks prior, I didn’t even know what an ERG was!
Diversitybestpractices.com defines ERGs as “an employer-recognized group of employees who share the concerns of a common, race, gender, national origin or sexual orientation – characteristics protected in some instances by law and in many organizations as matter of company policy.” Employee Resource Groups may also be referred to as “Affinity Groups” within some organization. In my experience, ERGs allow individuals with similarities (and Allies) to come together and help drive positive change within their organization and community. ERGs are also a great resource and tool for organizations to enhance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within their company.
I got involved in our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (Now called the “Pride ERG”) here at ConvaTec for many reasons. Although I had no experience with ERGs in the past, my co-lead and I embarked on the journey of starting an Employee Resource Group! We initially started very small and focused – mainly within the U.S., U.K., and Europe. I remember my first ERG meeting was me and 4 other employees (who are still well involved in our ERG today!) to discuss what ERGs are and how they work. The first item of business, though, was identifying what we wanted to accomplish with our ERG. We continue to grow our Pride ERG membership everyday and have membership across the globe!
With ERGs being a company sponsored group, it’s important to understand why ERGs are so important. Ultimately, they provide groups with a voice within an organization to drive positive change and make an impact to others. There are also tremendous business benefits when companies have a diverse and inclusive workplace.
There are many studies that compare these businesses and their performance; Purdue University mentions:
“A Gartner study predicts that through 2022, 75% of companies with diverse and inclusive decision-making teams will exceed their financial targets”
“Companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher innovation revenue – 45% of total revenue versus just 26%, according to a 2018 BCG Report”
It’s important that a companies’ workforce truly represents their customers – this helps them understand their customer’s needs to effectively meet them. ERGs, that focus on diversity within the workplace, can also impact employee engagement. Purdue University continues:
“In a Deloitte survey, 83% of millennials reported higher levels of engagement when they believed their company fosters an inclusive culture”
·“79% of respondents in a 2019 Yello survey said they would consider looking for a new job if their employer didn’t demonstrate a commitment to diversity”
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it can also have huge impacts within an organization. It’s also important the ERGs are driven by employees and supported by the business – this means having HR and Senior leadership taking a support/sponsorship role and employees leading the groups.
Start talking with your teams and employer about their D&I initiatives and how you can get involved.
Donald is the Co-Founder and America’s Chapter Lead of ConvaTec’s Pride Employee Resource Group (LGBTQ+ ERG), focusing on diverse hiring, company insights, and professional development. Donald has partnered with HR leaders to identify and develop employee resources for LGBTQ+ community and allies. He is also a key contributor and leading the creation of a Professional Development/Mentorship program for the LGBTQ+ Community at ConvaTec. Having launched ConvaTec's first ever Pride Month, Donald has also collaborated with ERG Leads in creating an Educational/Awareness Content calendar, focusing on recurring cadence of LGBTQ+ topics. He collaborated with Senior Leadership on raising awareness around D&I metrics and how they can continue hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. Donald is also founding member of ConvaTec's Black Employee Network and Women at ConvaTec ERGs. He has fundraised for Sisu Youth Services and collaborated with local up-and-coming government leaders on how to foster a diverse and inclusive community.