ERGs, Networks & Affinity Groups

What are Employee Resource Groups, Networks and Affinity Groups?

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), also known as Employee Networks, or Employee Affinity Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups that serve as a resource for members and organisations by fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with an organisation’s mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.

ERGs play many different roles, depending on their objectives and goals for the organisation and the membership.

Why are Employee Resource Groups, Networks and Affinity Groups important for supporting inclusion in your workplace?

There are a number of ways that ERGs can help to support diversity and inclusion in your workplace. They can:

  • Help promote inclusion: Research shows that employees in organisations with effective ERGs report higher levels of inclusion. [1]
  • Help organisations recruit for diversity: Many ERGs assist organisations in their recruitment efforts by being able to connect with diverse groups through networking events and through being advocates for diversity in their organisation.
  • Provide role models for diverse individuals: ERGs provide a source of mentors, visible role models, sponsors and connections for people from underrepresented or marginalised groups (see DCA’s Out at Work for evidence on the importance of role models).
  • Organise networking events: People from diverse groups often have less developed professional networks. ERGs can host networking events in a trusted safe space to help people connect with other professionals to share information about career strategies, opportunities, and advancement (see for example this WSJ article about the importance of networking for women).
  • Provide input into D&I strategies: Provide input to diversity councils, D&I staff, HR or organisational leaders about the experience of different groups within an organisation as well as being a resource for leadership regarding staff/community issues, needs and policies.
  • Provide access to new markets: Partner with business leaders to develop new products and better understand and serve customers and the community.
  • Celebrate diversity: Many ERGs organise and host events marking D&I days of significance raising awareness and celebrating diversity.
  • Provide a voice for employees from under-represented groups: Networks can provide a safe space for employees to discuss sensitive issues. Networks can also provide advice and information on any resources that exist within the workplace.
  • Provide career development opportunities: ERGs can offer networking and professional development opportunities. [2]

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