What are LGBTQ+ ERGs and How to Start One in the Workplace?
July 10 2023
If a company wants to establish the finest workplace culture and community, it must ensure that every employee feels respected, supported, and empowered by the company. A poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign revealed that 46% of employees belonging to LGBTQ+ communities chose to remain closeted at work. The major reason stated for this finding was that LGBTQ+ employees don't believe that they will get support and help when they report offensive remarks, actions, or other forms of bigotry and aggressive conversations to senior leadership. In short, there are questions regarding the possibilities of LGBTQ+ Equality.
The execution of LGBTQ+ support may vary from company to company, but the primary goal behind the cause is that all employees are encouraged, empowered, and treated fairly as important members of the workplace and community, in spite of of their sexual orientation and gender identity or gender expression.
Companies must establish themselves as a safe space for their employees. To ensure the attainment of this particular objective, Employee Resource Groups are established by employees to develop and promote a culture of inclusion, diversity, and equality of development opportunities and outcomes that are not affected by sexual or gender orientation or identity.
The Need for LGBTQ+ ERGs
Human resources divisions of every company or organization have focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While the subject has been prevalent throughout history, the pandemic era and subsequent PRIDE movements saw a drastic shift in perspectives that boosted the emphasis on anti-discrimination, diversity, inclusion, and overall social justice and acceptance.
However, two-thirds of respondents to a PwC Global Diversity & Inclusion Survey said their firms had not implemented policies to lessen unconscious biases and other inclusion-related impediments. Additionally, even in companies that have implemented such procedures, staff members are unlikely to be aware of the initiatives. This demonstrates how crucial it is for applicants to feel included at work.
The legalization of gay marriage in multiple countries gave rise to a wave of support for the LGBTQ+ community and compassion for gender identity. Companies have begun to advertise their supportive and inclusive work cultures, and the demand for ERGs has risen. You can use employee resource groups (ERGs) as a strategy to develop a more welcoming workplace and company culture that targets diversity and inclusion in a more comprehensive, neighborhood-based manner. Employee resource groups, usually referred to as affinity groups, have become a common part of diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace.
Many companies have adopted the practice of establishing what is commonly called a PRIDE ERG, which aims to promote the workplace inclusion of LGBTQ+ members. An LGBTQ+ ERGs benefits both the organization and the members by actively engaging in difficult conversations that are essential for progress in a changing society.
How to Start an LGBTQ+ ERG
It can be challenging to know where to begin if you or other employees in your company want to form an ERG. The steps to launching your ERG are outlined below.
Alignment of Objectives
Your ERG's purpose should be connected to the overarching goal and values of your organization for it to be successful. Is giving back to the community a priority for your organization? Or do you want to create a workforce that is more diverse?
Select diversity & inclusion topics and core values for your employee resource group that fits with the overarching business objectives. Consider crafting a mission statement for your ERG that discusses the fundamental principles of your company.
Gaining the support of other organizational divisions will be easier if you can demonstrate how your ERG-related activities and programs help the overall organizational agenda. The foundation of both the ERG and the organization should be the idea of establishing and developing a safe, inclusive environment that eliminates all barriers to career opportunities.
Starting an ERG - First Steps
Once clear objectives and purposes have been established and ensured that they align with the broader overall objectives of the organization, here are the first steps to take to start a successful ERG.
Make a chart that explains the intent of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. The charter must contain the objective of the ERG, which is to create and develop a safe and supportive environment that doesn't hinder any form of career opportunity.
Lay down the mission and vision of the ERG. The primary mission is to foster a sense of community and develop a workplace that is accepting of queer employees and transgender employees. ERGs must aim to maximize benefits to employees. An LGBTQ+ ERG must boast a strong commitment to diversity as well as inclusion and acceptance and tackle workplace sexual orientation equality issues with a strong commitment to promoting corporate equality and justice.
If you believe that your company would be supportive of an LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, you can consider seeking support from the Human Resources department. Although most companies have an effective Anti-Discrimination Policy in place, some companies might consider adding inclusive policies that aim to normalize gender expression, identity, and differences in sexual orientation. It is also vital to keep in mind that any sort of employee organization may be frowned upon by some businesses. Remember that HR departments are there to safeguard the business first and then the employees.
Let people know about the ERG. It is vital to let as many people know as possible that an agency or group has been established in order for it to gain traction. You can have employees fill out application forms. It helps to inquire and learn the reason behind an employee's decision to join the ERG, and it is just as important to learn whether they are joining as an ally or a member. This will simplify it for you to comprehend the demands of queer people working for your firm and will lower the entry barrier to the safe place.
Create virtual spaces that are both public and private. Either email lists or chat channels could be used for this. Employees who identify as LGBTQ+ individuals and require some level of secrecy should use the private channel. Both community members and allies should be allowed access to the public channel. When they apply, invite folks to the appropriate areas. To develop an inclusive workplace, employees must feel safe talking about issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ agenda without fear of hindrance or obstacles to their professional development.
Securing Executive Sponsors & Support
Your ERG's continued success depends on executive sponsors. Find senior corporate sponsors who are personally invested in the social impact of diversity and inclusion projects to get their support. It may be good to include talking points and data that demonstrate how an ERG will have a positive impact on your firm because executives are busy and typically metrics-focused.
Executive sponsors are expected to seek to get informed about LGBTQ+ concerns. We recognize that their familiarity with the realities of LGBTQ+ persons may be limited. If they are willing to listen and learn, that is acceptable.
We anticipate executive sponsors to inquire about the company's plans to broaden diversity in all facets. The pursuit of equality is year-round. This entails actively seeking out candidates from underrepresented groups, providing business opportunities for those who have been marginalized, and investing in their professional growth.
Make sure HR leaders are involved as well, as you will need their assistance in promoting the ERG and sharing ERGs during the new recruit onboarding process.
Building the ERG Team
Prior to beginning the ERG, create a communication strategy and list success criteria, such as long-term objectives and anticipated difficulties. Identify co-workers who are prepared to assume a leadership position, such as pledging to attend frequent education programs and monthly meetings or dedicating time to organizing and executing events. LGBTQ+ agency leaders must always seek out sexual orientation and gender expression-based mentorship programs and implement and execute them to advance the understanding of the ERG cause.
Then, seek out other colleagues who share your viewpoint and are enthusiastic about supporting your ERG. Allies are just as important to the LGBTQ+ ERG. Just as crucial as having leaders and organizers are members who are eager to contribute and spread awareness about diversity & inclusion.
Deploying the ERG
A key element of an employee resource group's success strategy is a robust communications plan. You might start by making a straightforward presentation that lists the objectives, activities, and participation suggestions for the ERG. Utilizing the brand guidelines of your company, you may employ the marketing department to design an ERG logo that is closely related to your business. This is a powerful method to make it apparent that your ERG has the backing of the leadership and is a significant project.
By holding a business event with your members and materials, you can raise excitement for the ERG. An excellent method to convey your ERG's objective and aimed status quo, outline upcoming events, and draw attendance is to host a happy hour, perhaps online.
Role of the Company in an ERG
There are several ways your company can help your employee resource groups. You might get financial and administrative support for your ERG. Your organization shouldn't, however, impose restrictions on the kinds of groups that should exist, the people who should join them, or the effects that they should have. The group should decide that, but it's crucial for the organization to offer resources for working toward and evaluating that achievement.
This could include a platform for communication with their group and potential members, visibility inside the organization, networking opportunities and meetings with senior leadership, a platform for a purpose workshop, road-mapping templates and exercises, ally programs, budget tracking tools, diversity training programs, and support in creating and tracking OKRs.
Ensure that your workspace is inclusive in every way. It is key in ensuring a healthy and productive workspace. Connect with us to learn more about how to run ERGs in your organization.