Amidst all of the deeply negative news of 2020, one positive has been the renewed energy around combatting systemic racism. While the events that precipitated this mobilization are both tragic and unacceptable, the drive for change could not wait any longer. The need to build more inclusive environments is especially urgent in our workplaces, where demographic-based disparities and discrimination abound.
Currently, 80% of Fortune 500 senior executives are men, and 72% of them are white. Women still earn just $0.82 for every dollar a man earns, with the burden falling disproportionately on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous womxn, who earn $0.62, $0.54, and $0.57 respectively. Moreover, the Economic Policy Institute reports that the Black-White wage gap has actually increased over the past twenty years, highlighting the enormous amount of work we have to do. Ironically, at the same time estimates suggest that companies are spending $8 billion every year on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Clearly what we’re doing is not working.
And now for something completely different
Here at Workrowd, we believe that part of what is stymieing progress is that every company seems to be designing and executing on their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals in a silo. When we started doing market research for this venture, we were stunned by the lack of data and best practices available to companies looking to start or expand their DEI work. Accordingly, we set out to find (or build) a solution.
In the course of our research, we learned about employee resource groups, or ERGs. Many of you are likely familiar with ERGs, but this idea was actually new to the Workrowd team when we started this journey. We instantly latched on to ERGs as being incredible vehicles to build support and power for underrepresented folx in the workplace, but we ultimately found that these employee-led efforts weren’t nearly living up to their potential.
In many companies, ERG leaders are at extremely high risk of burnout and lack the support they need from the company to enable their groups to thrive. Furthermore, over time, the focus of ERGs can shift to become more social rather than strategic. Given the devastating effects of non-inclusive workplaces, we knew we had to intervene and do our part to expand the set of tools available to ERG members.
A fortuitous partnership
As we started to dig into how we could best equip ERG leaders and members with the resources to supercharge their groups, we reached out to a variety of organizations that were already active in the ERG space. After a pretty disheartening series of strikeouts, we eventually connected with the Association of ERGs and Councils (AEC). Originally launched way back in 2005, the AEC had been taken over in recent years by a new owner who hadn’t had the bandwidth to give it their all. The effort was seriously in need of a refresh, so we set about discussing how we might collaborate to give the AEC a makeover.
After months of discussion and buildup, we finally were able to get down work, targeting a mid-October announcement. Our partner organization had decided to combine their annual conference with the University of Southern California’s Center for Effective Organizations’ ERG Leadership Summit Week, which seemed like the perfect time and place to debut our new collaboration. The summit started yesterday, so it is with great excitement that we announce the relaunch of what used to be the Association of ERGs and Councils as a brand new, digital-first experience.
Welcome to the next generation ERG empowerment hub
This new network is the premier community for ERG and diversity council members to connect across the globe. With best-in-class resources, exclusive events, and on-demand analytics, the one-stop platform is building the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion by empowering underrepresented employees with the tools they need to succeed. We’ve got membership options to fit every organization type and budget, including opportunities for individuals to join, so there’s no reason to let your employees get left behind.
We’ll be revealing more in the coming weeks, but for now, if you’d like to learn more please visit erg.workrowd.com. Memberships include the 24/7 networking community along with access to best practice resources and trainings, and dashboards to help you track your progress. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sharing more soon, so stay tuned!