Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Chances are you gravitate towards those with whom you have something in common. It’s no different when joining the workforce. In larger companies, you are likely to work with diverse individuals. While the work expectations may be clear, many struggle to be understood because of different values, beliefs, gender influences, ethnicity, and/or a host of other differences that distinguish us. Finding common ground and thriving with underlying feelings and past experiences can be challenging and gratifying at the same time.

In the 1960s, African American workers, looking for a way to organize in order to confront the social issue of racial prejudice in the workplace, formed groups where they could come together and tackle issues in their working environment. This was the birth of Employee Resource Groups or ERGs (the first of which was the National Black Employee Caucus at Xerox in 1970).

Since then, ERGs (sometimes called affinity groups) have become common in the workplace. They are a place where those with similar characteristics can gather and discuss issues affecting them. They can provide a united front to bridge the gap between management and employees and between peers. Done effectively, ERGs can provide a unified environment that promotes communication and provides a path for career advancement.