Employee Resource Groups (ERG)

What Are Employee Resource Groups?

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a voluntary community or network of employees within an organization, unified through their shared interests and commonalities. ERGs can also be defined as ‘affinity groups’ or ‘business network groups’ that generally aim to facilitate spaces of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) that provide employee support, peer-to-peer discourse, and career and personal development within the workplace.


Historically, ERGs have accommodated marginalized or underrepresented groups, e.g. race, gender, and sexual orientation, which better recognized and amplified minority voices. “Interest-based” groups have become an evolved form of traditional affinity groups, with the wider spectrum of mutual interests and activities unifying employees and broadening the definition of modern ERGs.

What Are Employee Resource Group Examples?

Successful business operations rely on the implementation of ethical people processes and enhanced employee support that recognizes the facilitation of individualized needs that directly correlate to a high-quality work-life and sustained productivity. Businesses know that prospective success relies on low employee turnover and talent retention.


Some examples of the different employee demographics include:


  • Black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC)


These ERGs cultivate a diverse space and the personal development of those of different races and cultural identities in relation to the wider organization.


  • Male/Female/Non-Binary


ERGs facilitate the needs of women, men, and gender non-conforming employees within the workplace through means of safe spaces, developmental strategies, and enhanced employee support.


  • People with para-bilities


This ERGs main focus is to support the needs of employees with para-bilities and facilitate inclusive environments for colleagues to share thoughts and opinions relevant to them.


  • LGBTQ+ Networks


These networks support the needs and provide safe spaces for queer members of the work community. Initiating action plans that raise awareness and provide advice on topics and expressions surrounding LGBTQ+ issues are just some of the objectives that these groups tackle.


ERGs also foster communities for veterans, parents, young professionals, mental health, and sustainability advocates.

What Do Employee Resource Groups Do?

Employee resource groups encompass safe spaces within the working environment of an organization and encourage the collaboration between employees of shared demographics to engage in personal and developmental processes.


ERGs contribute toward healthy working environments by acknowledging the individualized needs of an organization’s employees and providing support such as enhancing working conditions for minority groups, mitigating employee frustration, tackling overarching organizational issues, and improving workplace accessibility.

Where Can I Find Employee Resource Groups?

The necessity for employee resource groups increases annually, due to advanced understanding that long-term prospective success is achieved when employees are considered a valued asset worth investing in. Acknowledging the personalized expression of a company’s employees helps to retain a loyal workforce and aids workplace morale.


Industry leaders are continually investing in employee resource group efforts each year. 90% of Fortune 500 companies were reported to facilitate ERGs within their businesses in 2011, e.g., America Online (AOL), Dell Inc., Ford Motor Company, McGrew Hill, United Airlines, and Visa.

How Do You Structure An Employee Resource Group?

Structuring an effective employee resource group that ultimately creates a positive impact in the wider workspace is achieved through various methods. Transparent data accessibility and clear correspondence with Human Resources is the foundation of effective communication and allows for the fulfillment of group objectives.


The components of an ERG framework may include:


  • HR’s Administrative Assistance


Administrative assistance provides the technological tools and resources needed to reinforce prospective initiatives. HR’s logistical and assistance should document and synchronize ERG data that can forecast group potential and limitations.


  • Creating A Charter


Building an apparatus will outline group aspirations and expectations, allocate specialized roles, and check staff availability so that the group’s shared goals can come into alignment. A charter will structure your ERG and provide a foundation for achieving the group’s shared mission.

How Do You Make Employee Resource Groups Successful?

To maximize the effectiveness of your ERG and mitigate miscommunication and disorganization, company-wide correspondence is used to help to convey group objectives cross-sector.


  • Seeking Logistical Support


Administrative bodies such as HR and IT will help you calculate and assess potential limitations and maintain compliance with company regulations.


  • Coordinating Cross-Sector With Other ERG Members


Helps to determine future communications, share data, support initiatives, and avoid scheduling conflicts.


  • Assemble An ERG Team.


The implementation of proactive support networks within the workplace isn’t possible without employee participation. Enlisting the help of those with shared commonalities and figuring out the varying contributions of each group member will give your ERG the best chance of success from the start.


  • Leadership Endorsements.


Without executive support, ERG initiatives rarely make an impact on employees of niche groups looking to join a developmental community. Seeking support from a higher authority can determine the success or failure of an ERG.


Sourcing executive figures that have already displayed interest in the commitment to diversity and inclusion are ideal candidates to pursue. Presenting your groups’ mutual aspirations through clear data and an outlining of your long-term objectives reinforces reputability and longevity amongst executives.

Employee Resource Groups vs Affinity Groups

Affinity Groups are predecessors of ETFs and an informal recreation of the latter. Employee resource groups (ERGs) are formalized through the administrative endorsement of Human Resources and executive authorities. Affinity groups are an impersonal employee coalition of individuals with shared commonalities that may or may not possess a mutual objective or agenda.


Affinity Groups move towards recognition from HR and executive powers and seek to implement charters and further define the roles and responsibilities of its members. The formal presence of an employee resource group within an organization allows it administrative privileges including, the development of emerging leaders, talent acquisition and retention, and the logistical support of HR. ERGs can also reduce high staff turnovers by cultivating spaces for individual concerns and expressions to be realized.

Companies With Employee Resource Groups

ERGs give companies a way to foster diversity and enact positive change. These are two of the biggest and most significant modern employee resource groups around today:

  1. Ernst & Young Professional Network

    The global management and consulting firm have been recognized by Diversity Inc. for pioneering leadership specifically within ERGs. They have more than ten multi-operational ERGs that are encouraged to advocate for key populations which helps to drive long-term growth and productivity.

  2. Community Network At AT&T 

AT&T has one of the highest retention rates in the communications industry and has a thriving leadership presence among its African American employees. Over the years, high potential leaders have been cultivated to drive expansion and implement new ways of thinking and working.

Why Are Employee Resource Groups Important in the Digital Transformation Era?

Employee Resource Groups provide – to the wider organization in which it functions – a contrasting perspective of company practices through the diverse and varied lens of its members. Change is inevitable in the era of Digital Transformation, where innovative software processes are constantly remolding the digital landscape.


To keep evolving in this era of change, the incorporation of a wide variety of unique voices and differing perspectives greatly increases the chance of discovering and harnessing the newest transformative technologies.


Employee resource groups serve to improve the working conditions of underrepresented employees of varying demographics. Facilitating safe spaces to engage in developmental action and communicative processes, ERGs consider the individualized incentives businesses can offer their employees to keep workplace morale high.


Incorporating an array of contrasting voices under the umbrella of one organization increases the breadth of knowledge and life experience useful in contemporary decision making. With digital transformation constantly reinventing the wheel, businesses need to strategist and adapt to incoming trends. Acknowledging the personalized needs of your employees and reinvesting in their continued value at the company, will see you your investment returned in the long run.

Updated: November 28, 2022

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