How to Use Employee Resource Groups to Implement DEI

How to Use Employee Resource Groups to Implement DEI

As diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have become more widespread, ways to foster a positive yet inclusive workplace have become more creative. Encouraging employees to embrace their diversity can start at the employee level – one way to do this is through employee resource groups. Employee resource groups are employee-led initiatives within a company, and provide resources based on diversity, equity and inclusion principles to all employees. Strong DEI principles are crucial to employee satisfaction, and implementing them through employee resource groups can ensure that. 

What are Employee Resource Groups?

Employee resource groups are committees formed internally within a company, which aim to advocate for the needs of all employees at the company. Employee resource groups advocate for employees and meet with stakeholders to voice their needs. 

The core role of an employee resource group is to advocate for, and achieve an inclusive workplace. This can be done by: 

  • Promoting Inclusivity: By meeting the needs of employees, employees can feel more included, leading to greater job satisfaction. As both employees and managers play a role in promoting inclusivity, having a committee of employees who advocate for their colleagues’ needs can achieve this. We have a whole guide on promoting inclusivity here!
  • Fostering a Sense of Community: By having a committee of employees who are interested and passionate about promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, stronger camaraderie and community can be fostered in the workplace. By encouraging both the employee resource group to actively listen to the needs of their colleagues, a sense of trust and belonging can be formed. This strengthens teams and encourages open communication, ultimately providing more insight to the employee resource group.

There are a few main categories of employee resource groups: 

Affinity-based Employee Resource Groups

These ERGs are for employees which have a particular identity or characteristic, and aim to improve a workplaces’ diversity, equity and inclusion strategies to accommodate group members. Usually, affinity-based ERGs are based around protected traits, which are identity traits which are protected under employment discrimination laws. 

Examples of affinity-based employee resource groups include: 

  • An employee resource group for those who identify as LGBTQIA+ 
  • An employee resource group for employees with disabilities
  • A women's employee resource group, particularly in male-dominated industries

Career-focused Employee Resource Groups

These ERGs are formed for employees who share a common career goal or pathway, to provide support and resources to help them achieve their goals. Usually, these provide career development resources, such as workshops and advice. 

Here are some career-based employee resource group examples:

  • Young professionals’ group, for those new to their industry
  • Women in STEM groups
  • Leadership employee resource groups, for managers and bosses

Interest-based Employee Resource Groups

These ERGs provide a platform for employees within a particular industry to connect over shared passions, collaborate on projects, indulge in hobbies, or simply network within their local area. These employee resource groups serve as valuable avenues for fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among employees who share common interests beyond the workplace.

Some examples include: 

  • Tech Innovators ERG for those who are technology enthusiasts and innovators
  • Sustainability Champions ERG for those who are passionate about environmental 
  • Bookworms Society ERG for those who have a love for literature

Why are Employee Resource Groups Important?


Employee resource groups are a great way to improve the sense of community and wellbeing within a workplace. By encouraging connection and meeting employee needs, job satisfaction and employee retention will improve as well. Other reasons why ERGs are so important include: 

Innovation and Creativity: By implementing DEI principles to your workplace, and encouraging employees to voice their needs, ERGs will need to come up with creative solutions. As a result, employees will likely feel like they can be more involved in all aspects of their work, resulting in innovation and creativity. 

Talent and Leadership Development Pipelines: Providing opportunities for skill-building, employee development, and fostering improvement can allow employees to succeed and flourish. As a result, the strength of a company’s talent and leadership will improve as well.

Supporting Organizational Goals: Having empowered employees who can succeed and feel satisfied at their jobs can improve a company’s reputation as a socially responsible and inclusive employer.

Enhancing Team Dynamics and Collaboration: Maintaining a welcoming and inclusive environment for employees can improve team dynamics, and allow for seamless collaboration within the company. Setting a positive status quo within the workplace means that conflicts are less likely to occur.

Employee Wellbeing: Feeling welcomed and accommodated for can improve an employee’s overall sense of wellbeing. Having a strong support network in place can foster open communication, reduce stress and encourage stronger connections in the workplace.

Cultural Competence and Awareness: Implementing DEI principles improves overall cultural awareness in the workplace. Embracing and celebrating diversity in all aspects can improve team dynamics, but also be beneficial when working with clients and projects from diverse backgrounds.

3 Best Practices for Supporting ERGs as An Employer

Now that you know how important employee resource groups are to a company’s success, let's go through ways an ERG can be supported by an employer. If you’re looking to support an ERG in your workplace, consider the following: 

1. Executive Involvement

Although ERGs want to advocate and implement change, regular employees do not have the power to do so on their own. Having executives involved in meetings can make sure employee needs are heard, and show ERGs that they are supported by the company. An executive's active participation and interest in their company’s ERGs can ensure that their efforts do not go unnoticed. 

2. Open Membership

Although ERGs are formed to support individuals with a particular identity or characteristic, membership should not be gatekept to anyone with a particular background or position. Employees who are interested in advocating for others should be allowed to join as well, to show their support as an ally. Additionally, accommodations should be made for members who cannot always attend meetings in-person, and be made accessible for those with disabilities.

3. Establish Clear Metrics

Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs), goals, or other objectives of an ERG can allow members to measure their success and impact. Setting guidelines, having regular meetings and reflections can ensure that objectives are being met, and that employees are being heard.

Key Takeaways

An employee resource group is formed in order to implement diversity, equity and inclusion principles for a company. ERGs can improve the wellbeing of employees who are members, but also have positive effects for the whole company. An employee resource group should be structured, inclusive and goal-oriented to ensure that their goals for their employees are met. Ultimately, an ERG can improve employee satisfaction and retention, making it a win-win for employees and companies. CakeResume has plenty of articles relating to implementing DEI, and building an inclusive workplace which you can browse for free!

Want to read more HR blogs and recruitment news? Follow our blog for more! CakeResume is one of the best professional resume-builders in the market. We also offer other HR-related services like Job Search, Job Posting, Talent Search, Recruitment Services, and Employer Branding. Talk to our consultants for more!

— Originally Written by Bronte McNamara —

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