"Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing each other's uniqueness."
What a fitting ‘quote of the day’ to pop up on a calendar the morning of our latest webinar focusing on Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), moderated by Jennifer Fenley Duffy, Head of Partnerships for Millie. Guest speakers include Erick Smith, Senior Manager of Diversity & Inclusion (DEI) at Stash, Angie Pinilla, Senior Associate of Human Resources and Latinexcellence ERG Lead for Stash, and Britney Burns Robbins, Employee Experience Program Manager at WebPT. Check out some highlights below.
Q1: How are ERGs structured at your company?
Britney (WebPT): Our ERGs started in 2020 when everyone started working from home. Our WebPT Culture Council brought in our DEI task force and our ERG leads. Our Culture Council is made up of 5 sub committees that our council is most passionate about. We are committed to creating a culture that includes transparency, safety, and authenticity; where everyone feels like they belong – a key element of our environment.
We currently have 8 ERGs that we call our Propel groups. 5 of those are communities of WebPT employees that partner with our culture council sub committees to create meaningful moments through events, activities and guest speakers:
- Propel Us
- Propel Her
- Propel Pride
- Propel Parents
- Propel Vet
Each group has 2 co-leads who attend our monthly Culture Council meetings and host their ERG meetings and activities.
Our 3 additional ERG groups are Slack communities that share common interests and include resources. These groups operate more organically and serve as a place to share ideas, thoughts, and experiences:
- Propel Faith
- Propel ME (Multi Ethnic)
- Propel Mental Health
Erick & Angie (Stash): In 2020 during the pandemic, Stash started with 3 informal ERGs. When Erick was brought onto the team, he was tasked with formalizing groups and expanding off of the 3 groups in place. Stash now has 5 high performing ERGs:
- Black Magic
- Rainbow Stash
The key value of stash is prioritizing people, with storytelling at the pinnacle of everything they do. Storytelling builds empathy within the organization and connects employees in a meaningful way. Stash prioritizes ERGs by providing each main ERG with a:
- Executive sponsor
- Committee members
- Budget of $10,000/year
Each ERG chair has 3-4 sub chairs to help execute:
- Marketing & Communications
- Event Planning
Q2: Tell us a little bit more about your executive sponsors:
Erick & Angie (Stash): One interesting thing about our program is that 3 out of 5 of our executive sponsors do not identify with the group that they are leading. This is by design. It is a great opportunity for everyone to learn a lot.
And we have great executive sponsors. Our Latinexcellence group’s executive sponsor is our CFO.
All of them are really advocating for their groups, making sure stories are heard. We highly encourage anyone starting ERGs to prioritize executive sponsorship as one of their first steps.
Britney (WebPT): We are so lucky to have great partnerships with our senior management team. Our Chief People Officer has been integral at making our DEI and ERG efforts more in the forefront. One of our 2023 priorities is a people and culture goal to strengthen WebPT’s inclusive culture through hiring, developing and retaining our talent. That allows us to build our ERGs. We have also started a partnership with Keirus that provides our ERG leads with some formal training
We have two groups that are led by VPs at the company, Propel-Vet’s co-lead is the VP of RCM and the Propel-Her group co-lead is the VP of PMO.
Q3: How do you engage and recruit members?
Erick & Angie (Stash): Stash has some great activities. For example, Latinexcellence, led by Angie, engages members by having some really fun events, like:
- Monthly gatherings called Cafecitos with a gamified approach
- Coffee chats within the groups and with leadership
- In person meetings for those that are local
- Leadership and Development: webinars, workshops, and more
Other Stash ERGs have great professional development and inclusion opportunities as well, like mentorship circles, monthly safe space sessions, and engaging groups during heritage months.
Britney (WebPT): We are lucky to have introduced the group function through Millie. We run a campaign each month with a different theme, sponsored by an ERG. For example, for Pride month, we created a campaign in Millie with volunteer and fundraising opportunities.
We also partner with Project Helping to create themed Kynd Kits. These kits were sent to people’s homes and we hosted a virtual session to complete the kits together. The kits are a great way to engage with a remote workforce. Our ERGs also bring in guest speakers and leadership speakers often.
Q4: How has Millie been helpful for streamlining ERGs?
Britney (WebPT): One of our favorite things about Millie is our Slack integration, which is where we do 90% of our communicating. It’s great that when an employee joins an ERG through Millie, they are automatically entered into the group Slack channel. And the engagement tracking gives us great insight for cross function opportunities!
Erick (Stash): Our biggest value add from Millie, is that Millie always provides campaigns based on current events. It’s great to be able to provide employees opportunities to show support after a disaster strikes through volunteering and/or donating towards the cause. We find that it brings the team together and gives us opportunities during the moments that our team wants to provide support the most.
Angie (Stash): For our upcoming event, Latin Heritage Month, we are using Millie to amplify our external community efforts while bringing all of Stash together and providing opportunities for allies of Latinexcellence by providing communications and great orgs to support.