By: Michele Egan
The stark realities of 2020 – the pandemic, it’s devastating health impact and economic fallout and the gut-wrenching events driving a revived and sustained movement for social justice changes – have shined a light on the perspectives and needs of employees, especially essential workers. It has become even more vital today that employers provide inclusive and optimal work environments. In recent years, we’ve seen a steady increase in research on how mutually beneficial social impact partnerships contribute positively towards employee productivity, recruitment and retention. Regardless of actions a company takes externally, companies further benefit from an understanding of what employees care about and how this plays a role in employee satisfaction.
We’ve written about how authentigrated connections can be a driving force to create greater social value. Employees have long wanted to use their authentic voices in supporting issues the companies they work for support. Offering employees a choice of causes is a highly ranked benefit among the top employers who earn the coveted “best places to work” designations. In 2018, Benevity (a certified B Corporation and a leader in global corporate purpose software) conducted the Goodness Engagement Study which showed turnover dropped by an average of 57% in the employee groups most deeply connected to their companies’ giving and volunteering efforts.
Over the last few months I’ve heard corporate social responsibility and corporate volunteer program practitioners grappling with how to accomplish this engagement in a virtual environment. These conversations increasingly mention Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). I believe empowering ERGs can be one of the most effective factors in creating an “inside out” corporate giving and volunteerism approach.
One small silver lining emerging from the challenges of 2020 could be a deeper appreciation for the diverse perspectives represented and an increased investment in ERGs, including giving them a seat at the table in making cause and social impact partnership decisions. Even though ERGs have been around since the 1970’s (and likely before), many exist despite inconsistent resources and strategy. By fully empowering ERGs today, companies have an opportunity to give employees a voice, create or improve the connection between employees and company actions and increase authentigration.
Here are four ideas for how companies can take steps to ensure ERG programs are equipped and empowered as collaborators in making meaningful change:
- Give ERGs a role throughout the decision-making process in the selection of nonprofit partners, mission-areas and workplace giving initiatives
- Share progress and tell the ERGs story through consistent communications supported by internal and external resources
- Maintain a focus on and connection to how ERG efforts can drive business growth
- Build coalitions between and allyship among the different ERG communities
Today there is a real and meaningful opportunity to develop an “inside out” corporate engagement strategy by further empowering ERGs and connecting employee expertise and diverse perspectives with corporate partner social impact decisions. For Momentum’s recent 2020 Social Impact Stats Compendium is chock full of additional data for further exploration and inspiration. And I’m happy to discuss your employee cause engagement strategies. If you would like to share ideas, please reach out to me directly at: Michele@ForMomentum.com