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Key takeaways:

  • Track ERG engagement: Monitor attendance and satisfaction through surveys to gauge employee experiences and impact on company culture and DEI initiatives.
  • Assess employee involvement: Recognize varying levels of engagement and preferences within ERGs to ensure inclusivity and measure satisfaction.
  • Measure community impact: Evaluate ERGs’ contributions to underrepresented talent pipelines and community outreach to foster inclusiveness internally and externally.

Employee resource groups, or ERGs, play a critical role in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at many companies. As shown in a study conducted by Salesforce, ERGs boost company culture, champion DEI initiatives, help provide connections between employees, and influence larger organizational DEI goals.

With clear evidence that ERGs can be an excellent tool for DEI, how can senior leaders track the success of their ERGs and gauge where any adjustments for future goals are needed?

During the DEI Board’s recent panel discussion on setting up ERGs for success, senior DEI leaders shared key metrics that organizations should track and discussed how they’re reporting those metrics to align with their businesses.

1. Report on Employee Engagement Within Your ERGs

To understand how successful your ERGs are performing, you must know how the employees’ experience is going. You can do so by tracking attendance of activities and events, as Siobhan Calderbank, Senior Director of Talent Management at LCBO, noted.

“You want to be able to report on things like how many members are attending and how satisfied they are,” she says. “Make sure that you do a survey at some point, whether it is bi-annually or annually, to really see what they are getting and what’s the value. Then tie that back to the employee net promoter score.”

This net promoter score helps measure metrics beyond workforce demographics, as reported in a study by the Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy. These metrics can measure employee experience at companies and overall DEI experiences with ERGs through surveys, allowing those in the talent pipeline to understand your company culture better.

Siobhan explains how linking the employee net promoter score to ERG activity can help measure if experiences are helping to improve company culture and DEI initiatives.

“Then there’s a belongingness score. So, what’s the sense of people feeling that they’re belonging in the organization? You can track that year-over-year and see the impacts of the ERGs to that belongingness score,” Siobhan adds.

She also explains using an inclusion IQ to measure their organization’s maturity level of inclusion for employees compared to other organizations. Siobhan says they used a consulting firm that interviewed employees and leaders in their organization to gain more insight into their processes for where they might need to improve.

What’s the sense of people feeling that they’re belonging in the organization? You can track that year-over-year and see the impacts of the ERGs to that belongingness score.

Siobhan Calderbank, Senior Director of Talent Management at LCBO

2. Understand How Involved Your Employees Want to Be

Measuring employee engagement within ERGs is vital to understanding how impactful the groups are for your DEI initiatives. However, not all employees within ERGs have the same capacity to contribute to events and activities.

At the DEI Board panel discussion, Beam Suntory Director of DEI Employee-Led Initiatives Tyson Bauer talked about being inclusive of people who don’t participate at high levels.

As you’re thinking about member engagement, don’t discount the people who aren’t able to engage at that really high level.

Tyson Bauer, Director of DEI Employee-Led Initiatives at Beam Suntory

“There’s a rule of thumb: The 80-20 rule of the ERG is where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, and that pretty consistently holds true,” Tyson says. “And so as you’re thinking about member engagement, don’t discount the people who aren’t able to engage at that really high level.”

He explains how some ERG members want to stay informed of ERG activities through emails because of the commitment it takes to participate in all events. At Beam Suntory, Tyson says employees get to self-select how involved they wish to be and which ERGs they want to stay informed about. This self-selection also helps their organization measure how satisfied ERG members are with their engagement.

On the other hand, some employees may wish to participate in multiple ERGs. In this case, Tyson explains how it is helpful to measure their engagement for each group they’re involved with.

“You may have people that are involved in more than one ERG at the same time, and their engagement level at each ERG will likely look different,” he states. “So, I think being able to understand where people would like to contribute and whether or not they’re able to contribute at that level can also really be helpful.”

3. Measure the Community Impact of ERGs

ERGs may help companies advance inclusion and belonging with their employees, but the resource groups can have much more significant impacts outside of your organization.

Many ERGs provide better communication to underrepresented groups, allowing individuals to enter the pipeline that otherwise may not have had the opportunity. During a Bevy virtual event about building communities through ERGs, Adobe Senior Operations Manager Rani Mani discussed how ERGs impact diverse talent.

“Beyond looking at things like event attendance and attendee sentiment following events, it’s important to consider things like [net promoter score] to gauge overall employee engagement,” Rani says. “People want to join companies that exhibit a sense of belonging among their current employees.”

Along with community support for diverse talent, ERGs have opportunities to give back to the communities they serve. Tyson talked about measuring community impact at the DEI Board panel discussion and how they do so at Beam Suntory.

“We use the foresee model, which is the ERG’s impact: consumers, culture, communities, and careers. And so, as people are thinking through whether or not to create a new ERG here, we look at all four of those buckets and whether or not they have planned impact within each of the four buckets,” Tyson says.

Christi Cornette, Cincinnati Bell’s Chief Culture Officer, spoke about their growing ERGs in a Cincinnati Enquirer article and talked about creating involvement in community outreach initiatives. One example she shared was how their Pride ERG partnered with the nonprofit Lighthouse Youth & Family Services in working with homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

Measuring these community initiatives helps create inclusiveness and belongingness both internally and externally at large companies.

People want to join companies that exhibit a sense of belonging among their current employees.

Rani Mani, Senior Operations Manager at Adobe

4. Talk with Other Senior DEI Leaders About Measuring ERG Success

How can you know if you’re measuring your ERG success correctly? While creating community through ERGs at your organization is essential in driving belongingness, senior DEI leaders should also look to use their communities to better understand the challenges of measuring ERG success.

The DEI Board is the only place where you can benchmark your strategies directly with your peers — senior diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders at billion-dollar companies. Members have daily confidential, vendor-free conversations for unbiased, candid feedback on leadership strategies.

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