Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups that serve as a resource for members and their employers by fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices and objectives. They play an integral role in creating a culture that promotes an environment of understanding, acceptance and inclusion among all employees.
Research from Great Place to Work® tells us that employees who trust that they will be treated fairly, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or age, are nearly 10 times more likely to look forward to going to work, and over five times more likely to want to stay a long time at their company. Other benefits of BRGs include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement and expanded marketplace reach.
About Business Resource Groups
Business Resource Groups may also be known as:
- Employee Resource Groups
- Diversity & Inclusion Councils
- Affinity Groups
- Employee Networks
Business Resource Groups are made up of employees who share common interests and lived experiences; membership in any group is typically open to any interested employee. These groups come together to foster professional growth and provide a collective voice to management and decision makers around social issues, community needs and company policies.
Initiatives and events led by Business Resource Groups help support the company’s business goals, innovation, philanthropic efforts and commitment to workplace diversity and belonging. Business Resource Groups may sponsor a speaker series, career development seminars, volunteer activities, panel discussions and social networking events to which all employees are invited. Additionally, each BRG might make community outreach an integral part of its mission.
Involvement in a Business Resource Group is a valuable opportunity to develop internal relationships and make connections across the company. BRGs will often set up chapters for each group throughout a company’s footprint to ensure there is participation across different geographies. Being a member of a BRG also provides employees with cross-cultural competence: the ability to discern and take into account one’s own and others’ world views to be able to seize opportunities, make decisions and resolve conflicts in ways that optimize cultural differences for better, longer lasting and more creative solutions.
BRGs may lead awareness or community engagement activities that correspond to their common interest such as organizing a professional clothing drive for women transitioning into civilian careers during Women’s History Month. More often than not, BRGs are involved in supporting a company’s philanthropic activities and it is important to ensure they are integrated into goals, policies and procedures related to a company’s employee volunteer program and collaborate with the team leading corporate social impact efforts as needed.
Corporate Examples of BRGs
AT&T and Dow annually bring together members of their employee resource groups and business leaders for an opportunity to learn together, build connections and create social impact. Each conference includes acts of service that provide lasting benefits to the host community and in-person and virtual participants.
At Bank of America, one in four employees is a member of at least one Employee Network worldwide, which helps employees develop personally and professionally, build strong ties with communities and address issues that matter. One of these networks, IGEN, supports diversity by bridging gaps across generations within the workplace. During the pandemic, members of IGEN in the UK volunteered regularly to address community isolation in partnership with The Cares Family, a charity whose mission is to bring people together across generations, backgrounds and experiences to build community and connection.
Employee Resource Groups support Dell’s global cultivating inclusion pillar. Through their ERGs and Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Champions, they create meaningful professional connections and employee engagement. ERGs partner with leadership on corporate observances including Black History Month and International Women’s Day. To celebrate the International Day of the Girl in 2021, members of Dell’s Women in Action ERG participated in a Girls Empowerment Pro Bono Consulting Workshop. This virtual workshop connected ERG members across the U.S. with seven nonprofit organizations facing capacity-building challenges.
As part of Intel’s RISE (responsible, inclusive, sustainable and enabling) strategy, their nearly 40 ERGs are part of the engine that drives community and inclusion. Part of each group’s charter is to volunteer in local communities. In fact, in 2020, members of the Pacific Islanders of Intel ERG were made aware of a critical need for COVID-19 clinics to address a desperate situation for Oregon’s community of Pacific Islanders: their infection rates were 12 times higher than those of white Oregonians. The ERG reached out to county officials and local nonprofits to organize and lead clinics specific to this demographic which provided testing and vaccinations for thousands of Islanders, along with food and other services.