Why Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are Important: ISO 30415: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity: The art of thinking independently together.”― Malcolm Forbes


In today’s age, we live busy lives, trying to strike a balance between work, school, hobbies, self-care and more. Often, our social connections fall by the wayside. But connecting with others is more important than you might think. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and improve our immune systems. By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk.

Read More: https://bit.ly/DEIClause4

Content: ERG Group: ISO 30415: 2021: DEI

  1. What is ERG (Employee Resource Group)?
  2. What is the purpose of ERG?
  3. Why it is important?
  4. How an organization can effectively implement it?
  5. Conclusion


As per ISO 30415: 2021 standard, developing an inclusive workplace requires an ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) to address inequalities in organizational systems, policies, processes and practices, as well as people’s conscious and unconscious biases and behaviours.

As workplace diversity and inclusion programs are becoming more prevalent, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are gaining in popularity. Employee Resource Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. 

Once you go through the article, you will understand the meaning of ERG, its purpose, the importance of ERG and how an organization can effectively implement it.

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Definition: ISO 30415: 2021

Bias (3.5): Tendency, inclination or opinion that is preconceived or unreasoned that hinders impartial judgment.

Diversity (3.7): Characteristics of differences and similarities between people. Diversity includes factors that influence the identities and perspectives that people bring when interacting at work.

Employee Resource Group- ERG (3.8): People with shared demographic and other diversity dimensions, and their allies. An ERG generally consists of people who join together in a network to share experiences and beliefs, and to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Equality (3.9): State of being equal, especially in status, rights, opportunities or outcomes.

Equity (3.10): Principle that policies, processes and practices should be fairly applied and individual needs recognized.

Fairness (3.11): Principle that everyone should be subject to procedures that are equitable and as far as possible free from systematic bias.

Inclusion (3.12): Practice of including all stakeholders in organizational contexts.

Voice (3.19): Way people communicate their views and influence matters that affect them.

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Detailed Information

As per the recent study by Harvard Business Review, companies with an above-average total diversity (meaning migration, industry, career path, gender, education and age diversity), had 19% higher innovation revenues and 9% higher EBIT margins. Yet only 40% of employees agree that their manager fosters an inclusive environment!

The studies show a strong correlative relationship between business performance and DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). Organizations that have greater access to talent and increased employee engagement contribute to this performance effect. When the organisation’s top management starts looking at DEI as a business case, the implementation will increase in a real sense.

The standard is relevant to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • (5) Gender Equality
  • (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • (10) Reduced Inequality.

Read More: https://bit.ly/DiffDiversityInclusion

What is the requirement?

An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a voluntary, employee-led diversity and inclusion initiative that is formally supported by an organization. Organizations use many naming conventions to refer to ERGs, such as business resource groups, affinity groups, inclusion resource groups or network groups.

These groups can offer a psychologically safe space for discussion, solidarity and support, in which employees can feel free to self-identify and be their authentic selves. Many large companies have ERG programs including Uber, Salesforce, Amazon, and Google.

Purpose of ERG

The main goal of ERG is to advocate for the underrepresented group they represent and help increase the opportunities they get within the workplace.

  • Improving work conditions for alienated workers: ERGs help marginalized groups feel connected through a common cause or interest. Example: Providing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to contract workers.
  • Making the physical work environment better for everyone: Specific ERG group for people with disability and the LGBTQ community. Example: Creating gender-neutral restrooms and improving physical or visual accessibility for employees. 
  • Bringing employees together in a safe place: A place where conversations can flow freely and everyone can feel comfortable sharing their experience. 
  • Identifying and developing leaders in the making: ERG leaders can help identify emerging talent that might otherwise go overlooked due to unconscious bias. Participants can find new opportunities to connect with mentors and supportive colleagues across business units. Example: Supporting the employees speaking vernacular language, who have leadership qualities.
  • Lowering the chance of suppressed frustrations: ERGs can help surface an issue that might be too risky for an individual to share alone. This can help address problems quickly and alleviate toxic environments. Example: To address the discrimination related to caste or colour.

Why are Employee Resource Groups Important?

When ERGs are ineffective, employees feel excluded. We know that that innovation can only flourish when employees feel safe bringing their whole selves to work. ERGs build high-trust relationships that help companies flourish. The groups foster a sense of belonging and inspire conversation, bring new ways to look at issues and drive innovation.

Many executives at companies with ERGs find that they’re a critical resource for gaining deeper insights. When there are gaps in experiences, leaders often turn to ERGs to ensure that everyone, regardless of role or demographic, can succeed.

How to Effectively Implement it?

ERGs are typically developed based on shared identities or experiences. Below is the list of ERGs that typically form in organizations:

  • Culture, Race and Ethnicity
  • People with disabilities
  • Women
  • Religion or faith-based
  • Gender identity minorities
  • Sexual orientation minorities
  • Age minorities
  • Parents: working parents, single parents and caregivers

How to Start ERG?

Some of the possible ways to initiate the process of forming ERG are as follows:

  • Gather Starting Data. ERGs can help with the employee experience, but it’s important to know where you’re starting from. Get a baseline measurement of employee experience (maybe through an employee survey) and identify any gaps among groups. The organization can track this metric as the ERG grows.
  • Set Guiding Principles. Ask group members how they envision the ERG’s vision and mission. Who can be a member? What are the expectations of every member, for both them and for each other? Set these guidelines upfront to ensure everyone has a clear vision, as well as the space to ask if something is unclear.
  • Seek Executive Sponsorship. One ERG best practice is to ensure that each ERG has a senior leader as their executive sponsor who not only acts as a bridge between the C-suite and the ERG but who is also a full participant in the ERG’s mission.  
  • Offer Growth Opportunities. While an ERG is first and foremost a safe space for underrepresented groups, it should also be a place where those members can pursue professional development. Leadership training or education on everything from emotional intelligence to time management could be ERG offerings.

How Do ERGs Benefit Organizations?

By supporting ERGs, companies can foster a diverse, inclusive work environment and cultivate a culture of allyship. Working with these groups can help companies:

  • Better understanding of employee needs and perspectives
  • Get important insights on company processes, products and performance.
  • Foster employee development and identify potential leaders.
  • Enable important conversations such as those around race, gender, etc.
  • ERGs support retention because employees are likely to stay with the company longer if they have built or are part of a strong community within the company and feel heard.

Read More: https://bit.ly/DEIPDCA


In conclusion, with the help of ERGs, companies can put a greater focus on employee belonging and support. Long term, this kind of investment offers big rewards in terms of both employee well-being and organizational success.

Read More: https://bit.ly/ISO19011-2018Auditing


ISO 30415: 2021

ISO 30408: 2016: HRM: Guidelines on Human Governance

ISO 30400: 2022: HRM: Vocabulary

Industry Experts

This is the 203rd article of this Quality Management series. Every weekend, you will find useful information that will make your Management System journey Productive. Please share it with your colleagues too.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “The important thing is never to stop questioning.” I invite you to ask anything about the above subject. Questions and answers are the lifeblood of learning, and we are all learning. I will answer all questions to the best of my ability and promise to keep personal information confidential.

Your genuine feedback and response are extremely valuable. Please suggest topics for the coming weeks.

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