How to Use Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to Create Change at Your Organization

ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that serve as a platform for employees to drive initiatives to improve the workplace environment.

Are you feeling overwhelmed juggling work and responsibilities at home? Do you wish your workplace would offer more support and flexibility, or have different views on the way they approached certain needs?

You’re not powerless. There’s a powerful tool at your disposal to enact change within your organization: Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups formed around shared characteristics, interests, or life experiences — such as being a parent or caregiver. They serve as a platform for employees to come together, share experiences, advocate for change, and drive initiatives to improve the workplace environment. Starting or joining an ERG can be instrumental in creating a more supportive and inclusive workplace for yourself and your colleagues.

Here’s how you can harness the power of ERGs to drive meaningful change at your organization, using the example of parents and caregivers:

1. Identify the need and form an ERG

Reflect on the challenges you and your fellow parents or caregivers face in the workplace. Is it a lack of flexibility in working hours? Inadequate parental leave policies? Limited access to childcare resources? Once you’ve identified the need, gather like-minded colleagues and propose the formation of an ERG dedicated to addressing these issues. Strength lies in numbers, so encourage others to join you in this endeavor. You can review your HR team’s policies on group formation, or seek out an advocate in the department to help you put the necessary structure in place.

2. Advocate for change

With your ERG established, it’s time to advocate for the changes you want to see. This could involve lobbying for more flexible work arrangements, advocating for extended parental leave policies, or pushing for the implementation of on-site childcare facilities. Use data, research, interviews, and personal anecdotes to support your case.

3. Collaborate with leadership

Establishing open lines of communication with organizational leaders is crucial for effecting change. Take the time to interview leaders on behalf of the ERG to get their perspective, and be sure to see the situation from the organization’s point of view, especially with regard to company mission, goals, and budget. Invite company executives to ERG meetings or events to gain their support and understanding of the challenges faced by parents and caregivers. Collaborate with HR departments to pitch and design initiatives and policies that better accommodate the needs of employees with caregiving responsibilities, and suggest implementation of company benefits such as Cleo that have parents and caregivers as their focus.

4. Drive initiatives and cultivate a supportive culture

Beyond advocating for policy changes, ERGs can drive initiatives that foster a more supportive culture for parents and caregivers. This could include organizing workshops on work-life balance, hosting networking events or lunch-and-learns, or creating mentorship programs. By cultivating a sense of community and support within the organization, you can empower employees to thrive both personally and professionally. As with most efforts to help niche groups, these initiatives can also support those employees who are not yet parents or caregivers. Be sure to find allies in groups outside of your immediate focus and invite them to participate.

5. Evaluate and iterate

As you implement changes and initiatives, regularly evaluate their effectiveness and solicit feedback from ERG members and the broader employee base. Be willing to iterate and adapt your approach based on this feedback to ensure that your efforts are having a positive impact and addressing the evolving needs of employees.

It can be an uphill battle sometimes. Creating change within an organization is a gradual process that requires persistence, collaboration, and a collective effort. But ERGs are a proven way that countless companies use as a catalyst for positive change. You and your colleagues can shape a workplace that is truly supportive and inclusive of all its employees, including parents and caregivers like yourself.

Need help getting a parenting or caregiving ERG off the ground? Get in touch to learn more about how Cleo collaborates with ERGs.