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This is the weekly Careers newsletter.

Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) have been a part of companies since the early 1970s, but have had a resurgence recently as more people want to learn about, and take action on, social justice and equity.

According to venture capital firm Sequoia, an estimated 40 per cent of employers reported having had ERGs in 2021, up from just 9 per cent in 2020.

Studies from consulting giant McKinsey & Co. show that there are many benefits for companies that have ERGs, especially for those looking to advance their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

ERGs have enabled companies to foster inclusion by helping more employees feel like they belong, improve diversity by assisting with recruitment efforts and talent attraction and promote external impact through improved brand visibility when they bring people together for volunteering and giving.

However, data from The Rise Journey, an HR consulting company, shows that while companies acknowledge the value of ERGs, they are still trying to figure out how to optimize and amplify their impact.

In their latest report, State of the ERG 2022, they share three recommendations to ensure that ERGs are successful.

  1. Align your ERGs with your organization’s mission and vision (purpose), core values and strategic goals and objectives. Think of your ERGs as you would other integral parts of the business, where the goals are directly linked to the company’s larger objectives. Data from the 2022 report shows that 53 per cent of organizations set individual ERG goals and 36 per cent set collective ERG goals. Fourteen per cent of organizations said that they don’t plan to set collective goals and 4 per cent said they don’t plan to set individual ERG goals.
  2. Recognize ERG leaders and reward their hard work. The report states that this doesn’t need to be payment, it could be professional development for “high potentials.” The data shows that currently, companies are providing a mix of cash and non-monetary compensation to ERG leaders with the most popular forms of compensation being professional development, followed by mentorship opportunities and spot bonuses. Twenty-eight per cent of companies are also considering an employee’s participation as an ERG leader during performance reviews.
  3. Give ERGs and their leaders strong sponsors. “Ensure that your leads have support from the Leadership or the Executive Sponsor and the opportunity to receive guidance from senior leaders to advise them,” the report states. Sponsors are important because not only can they provide feedback and advice, but they can influence other senior executives, advocate for promotions and help ERGs gain more visibility with key decision makers. Twenty-one per cent of companies offer best-practices training to executive, leadership and ERG sponsors.

There is still plenty of room for improvement, but the report said that ERGs will remain as a core pillar of the DEI and culture efforts companies put forward. In order for ERGs to continue providing value to employees and the companies they work for, companies and their leaders must support their work.

What I’m reading around the web

  • The future of humanity may be at stake, according to the more than 350 executives and researchers who signed a statement published by the non-profit Center for AI Safety that urges policy-makers to take the risks of unregulated artificial intelligence seriously. There are many ways AI could “go wrong” and some see it as potentially as harmful as pandemics or nuclear wars. The first name on the list is University of Toronto professor and AI ‘godfather’ Geoffrey Hinton.
  • In 2018, NBA star Kevin Love, who plays for the Miami Heat, penned a letter about men’s mental health. As we close out Mental Health Month in May, his ever-relevant letter is a reminder that everyone is going through something, and what you do for a living does not have to define you.
  • According to Harvard Business Review, successful business strategies must now act more as a portfolio of options, rather than a direct road map, to navigate a volatile and uncertain world. Here’s how leaders can create and communicate those complex, often conflicting, strategies and ideas.
  • When one woman from Vancouver who was facing depression was prescribed time outside from her doctor, she thought it was too simple to work. Just two weeks after adhering to the suggestion of spending 120 minutes in nature every week, she was already seeing positive results.

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