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Elevating ERGs: What Employee Resource Groups need to Thrive

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) give organizations a powerful way to help their people maintain a sense of community. They also serve as a critical resource for information about what is and is not working for employees. In this panel, we discuss what organizations can do in return to value, support, and sustain ERGs — and why it's a winning strategy for our companies and those we aim to support. Our featured speakers: • Ronda Carnegie, Chief Innovation Officer, The Female Quotient (Moderator) • Shujaat Ahmad, Director, People Analytics, Future of Work and Global Co-Chair, Embrace ERG, LinkedIn • Dayna Wade, Lead, Inclusion Programs, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Team, Blend • Maria Serrano Valdehueza, Senior Director, Group Sales, Golden State Warriors


Ronda Carnegie | Chief Innovation officer | the Female Quotient 0:00

Different acronyms. But um, if you're just tuning in here, this is our series on where are we now? And it's really, our mission for this series is really to take a look at Black employees and people of color and understanding how they're living their truth right now we're all living our truth right now and how we are feeling the pain of the compounding crisis. And so this brings to all of us the importance and the responsibility of having conversations having solutions ideas, learning how to flex our muscle, we were saying early on, we were talking about Ramadan, like just knowing how do we have conversations around on better understanding and so on. So I'm really really looking forward to this conversation. So a little bit about er, G's, they are called employee resource groups, if you don't know what an ER G is, and that's okay. If you don't we would love to, for you. Now you do. And it really, in its definition, it they're really built to give organizations a powerful way to help people maintain a sense of community. And they also serves as a critical resource for information about what is and what is not working for employees. And so we're gonna talk about in this panel, we're going to talk about IR G's. We are going to talk about their value their support, there's a lot of discussion today about the heavy lifting that er G's are taking on. And actually we should be considering them as internal consultants in many ways in terms of what how we're taught to what is the winning strategy for companies in this space. So we have today Shujaat global co chair of embrace the ER g at LinkedIn, Dana, inclusion programs, blend and Maria, senior director Group Sales at the Golden State Warriors. Welcome, welcome. Welcome. So we'll start off with an introduction about who you are, how do you come to this work of args? And, you know, a provocative question, something that we should be thinking about, and I'm gonna start right next to me in the box right next to me was Shujaat.

Shujaat Ahmad | Director People Analytics | Future of work and global co-chair embrace ERG 2:34

Well, I everyone, first of all, thank you for the privilege of your time for being very excited for this way diverse panel on such a important topic. Again, my name is Shujaat Emma, and with LinkedIn, I have two roles. So my daily job is I'm a director p bar analytics focused on the future work strategy. What that means is on a daily basis, I'm in the business of myth busting, bias, in decision making around talent, specifically, then also looking at diversity, inclusion and belonging, at the same time influencing business decisions to make sure that they're based on insights. And very closely related to it is my second job, which is not my day job. But being a global co chair for embrace, which is a RG a global community focused on embracing differences across underrepresented cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. So the both are pretty closely linked, both like one led to how do we design the strategy, the modeling, using data, to think about diversity, inclusion and belonging and the change that you want to bring in. And the RG role is more being on the ground being sort of the focus group that can help bring some of this change as well and also informs of our strategy. And what led to that is, I guess the focus is embracing differences. A lot of diversity work is on figuring out commonalities. That's very common in ER G's, we ventured to think about differences because we start from differences, you can educate everyone, you can then start to design for everyone as well, versus trying to force everyone to come to a common law. And that's it.

Unknown Speaker 4:12

Thank you. I love that I could that's like just the quote design for difference. I love that so great. Maria,

Maria Serrano Valdehueza | Sr Director | Group Sales | Golden State Warriors 4:21

Rhonda, echoing Shujaat here, like thank you so much for the opportunity to be here and to talk about a topic that I know I am very passionate about as well from a you know, inclusion standpoint. I'm a proud Ghanaian a mom of three. And so I think these topics are, you know, something I try to think about every day, you know, not just in our professional professional settings, but you know, at home as well. So to introduce myself, I am the Senior Director of Group Sales. I was also a founding member and current member of our organization's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. I'm also the director sponsor for our working parents. Er G. Which is a great opportunity for me to chat with my other colleagues around how we can really bring about change from a working parents perspective, especially in this kind of environment where we're all working from home. And I know the struggle of trying to balance our personal and professional lives is far more difficult now than it ever has been. But I think the interesting thing here is, you know, why, what is the what's the connection between Group Sales and inclusion. And you know, my team is actually responsible for hosting a variety of events, special events that are all heritage based. So we host our largest special event night, which is Filipino heritage night. And we do it through other cultural events, like Polynesian heritage and Jewish heritage and Irish heritage, and it's a way to bring communities into a basketball arena, right, and they may be celebrating something, regardless of what's happening on the floor. You know, I always used to say, Group Sales is the event within the event, right? And oh, there just happens to be this fantastic championship caliber basketball game that's happening in front of you. But what a way to bring communities together. And so you know, we, I get to operate on both sides, I think in my role, you know, on the sales side, I'm reaching out to various drgs, and trying to identify ways to get them to come together in ways to, to bring their groups together and things for them to do. And then on the flip internally, I'm also working on that same energy and finding out how we can drive our businesses internally and how we can show our working parents group some much needed attention.

Unknown Speaker 6:34

So interesting, how you know, you belong to various different groups, you know, you've got all of you know, it's a modern water cooler opportunity to really come together around your various identities that you want to connect with those who have a shared point of view, Dana,

Dayna Wade | Lead Inclusion Programs and belonging team | Blend 6:54

I Hi, Rhonda. Hi, everyone. I'm, I'm really excited to be here, very honored to be here, along with Xu, jotain. And Maria, and thank you, Rhonda. It's exciting to hear about all of the work and I'm going to keep the momentum going with all of the different hats that everyone is wearing. So my name is Dana, my pronouns are she her hers, and I'm the inclusion programs lead at blend. And we are a technology company, we are transforming the banking industry. And I'm really happy to be here amongst these movers and shakers today. And so, my work is also in multiple parts. A part of my work is as the program manager for all of our employee resource groups at blend. And so I'm a member of the diversity inclusion and belonging team. And as a part of that work I, I provide learning opportunities around AR D IB, Yeomanry, se d IB opt in. So that's our diversity, inclusion and belonging values, and really putting that framework that we provide for blend employees, which we call blend kind into practice, and really working on the strategy for how we are rolling out training and support and resources and guidance for our employees to to be inclusive, to work with a sense of belonging and everything that they do. And so a part of that is program managing our employee resource groups. And we have seven of those currently at blend, and I'm sure we'll talk a lot about those during this panel. And, you know, I'm really here to help support the CO leaders. So we have two leaders for each employee resource group. And I am their support system. Hopefully, that's what I try to do in my work every day, help them to be the voice and influence on company policy and culture, that we want to see changes in the organization things that aren't working so well. Our employee resource groups come together. And they're forum, they're a forum for people to, to connect, to develop their interpersonal skills, to talk about things that are bothering them things that are going well, and it's my job to support those 14 leaders every day.

Unknown Speaker 9:23

So seven groups, 14 leaders and a council, right is that is that the structure I just I want I want people to understand like how, you know, how you come about what is the you know, how do they what is the eco system, which is what you were really, you know, you're really Dana sort of walking us through it. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 9:46

yeah. So they all all of our energies are a little bit different. It depends on the energy we have. We have parents. At blend we have women at blend, we have black upland, we have Asian and black We have blandisi mo, in support of our Latin x. community we have I mean, we have I think I probably skipped a couple. But all of our er G's work a little bit differently. But it's my job to provide the systematic support and the processes so that we're all achieving the goals and the results that we want. But giving my BRG leaders rein and autonomy to do to, you know, provide the support that they're giving their groups, the best that they can, so we can definitely get into all of that. But they all look a little differently, depending on the group.

Unknown Speaker 10:45

Okay, yeah, I want to come back around to say like, if we were, you know, guiding those who are tuning in on what is the best support, you can provide an error? Gee, what might that be? So hold on to that, and let's come back around to that. You know, Maria, I'm going to come over to you, you know, does interesting about what you were saying about the the events within the events around heritage, if there was an insight that you're you're getting like, wow, this is an insight that's really surprising, delighting me, what is it about your finding in the in the work you're doing around energies?

Unknown Speaker 11:25

Yeah. It's a great question, because I think that's, you know, we're all searching for right is what are we really getting from this group that's going to help drive some of our business initiatives. And to be honest, it's something that is so simple, as everybody is so impassioned, to have a voice and to have to share their opinion and their thoughts about current business practices. And that is such a simple concept. But er, G's really lend the opportunity for every individual contributor to do that, and participate in and engage and engage in their companies in a way that wouldn't exist if those args weren't there. So, you know, from someone in my standpoint, where know from a sales perspective, we sell heritage nights, right? Well, we create Latino heritage night or Filipino heritage night, what better way to source information about what's relevant for that community, then your er G. And so to your point earlier, they are 100% internal consultants about that community, you know, before er G's consistent, my team would have to go out into communities and they they do hand to hand combat right there. They're making relationships, they're going in there. They're talking to community leaders, they're trying to do needs analysis and find out what's important for them, and how the Warriors can we support that through an event. And now while we've got that in tandem with that, we've got these internal resources, who are just craving to share their authentic self, and find a way to connect what their passions are, personally, with their professional lives. And this is it and again, as simple as that may seem like, yeah, that's the whole point of VR, jeez, right? Like, I was floored with just the amount of people who wanted to raise their hand and participate about current business initiatives, right. It's not even the new things we're creating. But it's what are we cultivating in our own current system? That's better than what was before just by adding voices to that. And that has just, I think, been the number one thing that I'm taking away from er, G's is, how are you letting people share their opinion, right, not only just through the creation of yards, but in those args? How are you sharing those discussions?

Unknown Speaker 13:43

So in terms of your structure, do you have a counsel as well or just yeah, and how many orgies do you have? Yeah, so

Unknown Speaker 13:51

very similar to Dana Not quite, we don't have specific individuals, you know, working through er G's, but we've got about 70 argies. We just established them a year ago and Puck about perfect timing, wow, is a great year to get people together and not a great time to get people together. Right? Um, but we've got seven args. Each one of them has a executive and a director level sponsor. And then from there, we've got chairs and co chairs and again, however, that the RG decides to structure their leadership group from the dei Council, we are a committee of Gosh, I think about 1314 of us. And in that Council, we've got certain subcommittees as well, that were you know, overseeing different projects. One subcommittee is our er g subcommittee and that group's responsibility is, I think, similar to Dana's where they're just kind of facilitating the dialogue between all of the ER G's How are they working through their objectives? How are they sharing best practices, all of those things, but each TRG definitely operates very autonomously.

Unknown Speaker 14:58

Well, it's interesting because I think one of the things that you're saying is that it's an inside out strategy and an outside in just the way that you do the heritage days, I think is is a really interesting insight. Shujaat just, you know, for, for you you that listening to this conversation, how are you organized? And what are some insights that you've gotten?

Unknown Speaker 15:25

Yeah, so it's similar to I think it's a mix similar to what Maria was saying. So the so we have about at RGS 28 you're at I was like, What? Yeah, I mean, maybe one day, we'll get to eight. Yeah, it's been pretty images. I mean, linked is a pretty innovative company. So it's the ER and though the culture is similar to that, as well, the ER G's are pretty autonomous in how they built from the ground up taking a cause. And then what do they need for that, but then we have sort of central and top down support as well from our so we call it DevOps, just diversity, inclusion and belonging to that team that is working on the enterprise strategy for our focus areas as a company for diversity, inclusion, belonging, there would help from a central perspective in terms of helping us scale operations, trying to connect all the ER G's in a way that it links with their overall company strategy for what we want to achieve with diversity, inclusion and belonging, but also making sure that we have flexibility of things that we run on our own right on our agendas as well. And obviously, like er, G's as a very sensitive space as well got even more sensitive over the last year. So also support from comms and all of that, but that's how we are set up. I guess, a key insight has been that and I think it's not just us, talking to other companies as well, other teams that are caught on er, G's, you know, the intersectionality, of er, G's. I think that's been a big opportunity area, I believe, for everyone that that's been missing, because the end of the year, these are volunteers. Right? So how can you bring intersectionality so that there is better ROI as well. Secondly, I'll give our er G's example, when we started off your rating national, that we are not going to be a social only RG because we've felt because we touched every other TRG in our in our goal. And we felt while social and community events are great, but end of the day you can go out to you can be a black employee go to beg, which is our employee, ID for bank employees have a great time. And when you come back, you're going to be the one and only person may be in your team. And belonging begins and ends at the team level. So we were very focused on how do we build education at the individual contributor, but mainly at the manager level, and build awareness from them. And I think we're having a bit targeted focus that we don't want to go out and do all these events. But get people together from an education perspective helped us become better because we start touching every other yardie. So we end up side creating intersectionality. And as a pandemic happened, the biggest pain yardies had was you no longer have social events, you're all virtual. And what helped us was that we were already set up to be virtual, because of the our focus area, that it was very easy for us to scale when the pandemic hit. So for example, we did some very virtual global connectivity events where people dial in from all over the world. And the whole topic was share your home. So don't share like your space. But what is one thing in your house that connects with who you are, or where you come from. And people started connecting in a time and people were craving for connection, that ended up becoming one of the top things actually a Fast Company, they publish their design. And that's one of the very creative ways where you can build virtual connectivity in a space when walls don't exist. So I think that's been an aha, having a very focused area, and then using it to your advantage for scaling as well.

Unknown Speaker 18:53

So we're getting some interesting questions in the chat that I'll just throw out and then you just let me know who wants to answer this? And the first question is, as a small to mid size business, when do you think we should be when we should look at creating args for our team? So it's a question about when I think, you know, people are really interested, they see it at the enterprise level, but will you know, what happens at a smaller level? Is there anyone who wants to take that on or I can jump in? Great, Dana.

Unknown Speaker 19:29

So what I was what I mentioned earlier about just kind of like how all of the different energies at blend kind of operate a little bit differently depending on depending on the group. And so for example, we have a parents employee resource group, and they have a committee. All of the employee resource groups that we have don't have committees, so some are more complex than others. Depending on their needs, depending on who the leaders are, and what their decisions are that, that, that as a program manager I want to empower them to make. And so it's all going to look a little bit differently. So the question of when right now, I think that that's the, that's the answer. And it's, it's going to, it's going to, you know, you're the first er G is, you know, it's going to be the pilot, you know, it's going to be, it's going to be you as the person who decides that this is necessary right now. And for for, you know, I am, you know, the chosen one to get this going. It's important that, that you, as that person, create some type of structure or strategy for a charter. And so, you know, this is what, you know, this is what it means to be an employee resource group. So, kind of just get pen and paper together now, and just map it out, you know, what, what to, you know, in the, in the context of my company, or organization, this is what this is what we need. So this is what an energy should look like, this is what this is what we should have in place to be an energy. I love that my fellow panelists are talking about executive sponsorship, that's really important. So, find an executive that supports whatever the demographic of that employee resource group is. So, one, one thing that is important for us at blend is that we encourage anyone to participate in any energy. And so that's, that's very important in getting started. Because it's they are aligned around affinity, experience and or interest for us. And so if you have an interest in this affinity group, it doesn't matter if you necessarily identify with, you know, parents that blend to be a member of parents that blend, if you have an interest and a sense of wanting to be an ally to this community. So I would say, again, now's the time. And start simple. So just map it out with your, you know, this is what I think an employee resource group is at, fill in the blank company. You know, seek out an executive sponsor, someone who is on the leadership level of your organization or company who can back your energy and support you in getting this started. Because this is the beginning of what is what will be hopefully, for you, an amazing experience, and just the first step in really leading your employee, your company culture, through your employee resource groups, which is number one for us.

Unknown Speaker 23:05

So, you know, it's interesting, because, you know, as you're talking data, you know, er, G's in my mind are fairly new, but right, like, over time, they're not, you know, they've been around for 20 years, for example. And so the people who are getting into it aren't coming into it, because they know a lot about er, G's, but they have a curiosity, as you're saying, like, a thirst for wanting to unpack it. And just like just breaking it down, as you did for people, just, you know, what is the group that you want to bring together? Can you get an executive sponsor? Does that sponsor need to be in human resources? Where does that sponsor typically come from?

Unknown Speaker 23:46

That that sponsor, I would, I would say that I have had the most success with encouraging leaders of the employee resource groups, to have a an executive sponsor who is on the leadership level, so that when your ear G's are meeting and creating safe spaces, and are discussing things that are sensitive, and things that they want to see change through the organization, you can have someone when I say you, I mean the leader of the employee resource group can have someone to rely on that after that you can take that information, and share with someone who is going to elevate those concerns and take those up to leadership so that we can start to see true change in the company organization through what the employee resource groups are talking about.

Unknown Speaker 24:42

Great, great, great, sort of unpacking that. Maria, she's got anything you want to add to that.

Unknown Speaker 24:48

Yeah, I'll add to I think it's the the topic of diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity, right. A lot of the time when people start looking at it, they think of it as big data. Where's the problem? As a small data, so when you say the topic or when the you know, the the spectrum awareness, ally ship and advocacy. So even if you have one person who is an advocate for a topic, you are now an ER G. Now you keep talking about and if you get you in raise awareness and you start getting more allies in that conversation, doesn't matter your skill, you can now start structuring the urges exactly now, like Dana talked about, right how what to go after, but don't wait for a certain moment. Right. Start with yourself as the advocate, get more advocates get more allies? Focus on awareness?

Unknown Speaker 25:40

Yeah, I would have to agree with everyone here. And you know, now is important because you know, whether or not you have, er, G's already structured people are already meeting and they're having these kinds of conversations, right? whether or not there's a formal group for it, people are having these conversations, right? They're like minded individuals, they're talking, they're meeting outside, they're having chats. And so it's just a matter of as an organization or a company, how are you trying to guess it to some degree, bring that out in the open, right? How encouraging your employees that you don't have to have these in silos? Right, like, let's talk about it. And Dana, I definitely want to echo your sentiments about executive sponsors, it that is so important about, you know, having somebody a voice to be able to help bring that conversation up to the C level just to C suite, or to senior leadership team right to help bake that and guide kind of what your er G's already doing. It's that added influence. And so that could not be more important in you know, having a successful er G is having that kind of ally ship and presence in there.

Unknown Speaker 26:44

So there's a reaction in the question about as we were following through this idea of intersectionality of the various different groups you're in and what group you're in. And so the question is, how do you communicate to employees that you don't have to be a part of that represented group to be a part of that, er, G. For example, if you're a female professional, you can join any er G, not just the female professional group.

Unknown Speaker 27:15

I guess dog with this, considering we focus a lot on intersectionality. So So first of all, I'm gonna try to keep it short. But there's a long way that, you know, when the topic of diversity came from the rest of the world, to us, it got screwed. Right, because by legalities by companies, they tried forcing everyone into a single entity. You know, this is your level, this is where you are now that translate into er, G's as well. And I think the way you get away from it is what Dana was saying, I'm realizing as well, having very clear focus areas for the TRG. Because then you talk about here's the big focus area, does it resonate with you? We're says we had when we tried to embrace all my diverse my team, when our head of diversity came to my first meeting, she was blown away. She's like, I thought it's gonna be from one ethnicity. It had gender ethnicity mix all over my leadership team. And why is that? Because we had people come in from the back employees group, saying, I don't just want to talk what because I'm black. There are so many other layers to me, I want to talk about whatever is happening in a global sense, across cultures. What does it mean to be a parent who is also raising two different generations, and two different cultures in the US, and like in Europe? So that topic brought people over? I think that made it easier for people to Why do you join a women at LinkedIn, for example, versus embrace, and we went from rather than being versus versus being all of it together? Like if you find a topic interesting. Go for this if you want a topic, interesting, go for another.

Unknown Speaker 28:56

And like, sorry, can I jump in Ronda? Yeah, no, I yeah, just like she Jaya is saying, um, those conversations, I think that encouragement and that kind of framing of how you are letting people know how to join the ER, G's and who can join and what people have a lot of questions, right. And so making sure that those questions are answered before they even get asked. So being proactive about thinking about what the questions are, and this was a great question, how do I how do I, you know, how can I be a part of the era that I don't necessarily identify with that group? Well, you probably do. And you might not even know it. I have an actual scenario, a good example, just an employee at my company that I absolutely adore. Because she happens to identify with almost every single one of our args. And at first I was like, you know, I don't know if this person feels Like, you know, it's like required to come to the ER g meetings, but she was just always participating and stuff. And, and then I decided that I needed to connect with her so that I could understand like, you know what her approach was and what her thinking was behind just wanting to be really involved in the energy program. And it just so happens that, you know, she has, again, connections to everything, she has a child, that's a military veteran. So she comes to our salutes, employee resource group, meetings and events. She's a woman. So she comes to our women, Evelyn, she has, she has children who identify as black. So she comes to our black blend, that that child is married to an an Asian woman. So she comes to our Asian at blend events. And she's a parent, of course. So even so our parents even, you know, it's just having examples of how er G's can, you know, just transcend whatever your identity, identity is weapon. And how you connect with others is important when you're explaining and setting the precedent for what it means to be a part of an employee resource group, either during your day one orientations, or doing whatever type of onboarding process that you have at your organization, just continuing to reiterate that will get people to kind of just understand that, Oh, yes, this is how it works. This is how this is how belonging to our energies works. It's not necessarily a personal connection all the time. It's just an interest as well.

Unknown Speaker 31:40

And just in terms of adoption, so you know, as I'm hearing, obviously, the next generation come into the workplace. And this is so much about onboarding. In terms of adoption and participation in ER G's, if you had to break it out between those who are coming to an organization the first five years, then, you know, what, what is being called the messing that up? Which I'm calling the magic middle? And then you know, leadership? How, how much do you see of those populations participating in ER, G's? Anyone?

Unknown Speaker 32:24

I can I can go. Or I can can start off with this. I think it's similar to what earlier we're discussing what executive sponsors, right? Like, how do we leverage them, their time is very precious as well. I think it's a bit stratified. So for those at the leadership level, we bring them in for very specific topics, discussions and moments that is mutually beneficial for them, because they're trying to learn as well and try to, you know, hopefully make mistakes in a very safe environment. And other way as well, because then being there drives belonging for a lot of people as well, an attachment to the company, for new people. And it's very, again, very focused on awareness of topics, and this would be our most yardies. I know from other companies as well, they're also doing the same thing is having the system where someone joins in, and you automatically get to sign up to any ID that just does not exist systemically. So there and then in the middle layer is mostly people who've been tenured, they've built their networks, they also are, have the power and influence in their positions as well. I think that is very critical, bringing because having them attached to you having them attend your events, having them sign up as maybe advocates that's going to drive the change. Something common we talk about LinkedIn, internally and externally is the network gap. What we're trying to address is minimize the network gap that a lot of underrepresented communities face. And that sort of seduced their opportunities as well to grow. Anyone else? Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker 33:58

think, you know, we're seeing a lot of kind of in that middle phase participation as well. You know, it's, I think, to sujets point, it's people who are already well connected within that organization who are, you know, this is kind of a natural step. for them. This is a natural phase to be having these kinds of dialogues, there is that sense of trust that they have already established with some of their other colleagues. And so they're more willing, I think, to be adaptable in these spaces. You know, from a leadership perspective and executive sponsors, well, it is very tough to wrangle their time. But we are really trying to force it, you know, a Golden State, it's got to be full participation, everybody hands on deck every time right. And if we're going to get our team members to be brought in to something, then that's also got to start from our leadership. And so to that end, it is trying to force that in hand a little bit and remind them that, you know, their participation in these topics or participation in these args is so critical to our overall involvement as an organization. If we're going to preach diversity and inclusion, well then that's got to stop Start with the top right. And they have to be participatory in those dialogues. And I think as team members, they, they need to see that their leadership is willing to be engaged in those as well. Right. And I think that that provides that safe space to know that it is supported, right, that it's not just some of your more junior team members having conversations that isn't, you know, acceptable to have in light of leadership or in light of senior leadership, right. So it is important from a transparency standpoint. And so, you know, as difficult as it is, and it can be, and there's certainly times we have to, you know, move meetings around or whatever that may be, it's so critical to have involvement at every level. But more importantly, from your leadership.

Unknown Speaker 35:42

So another question came in on funding, really just interested to know how er G's are funded. And, you know, in addition to like, starting in ER G, what kind of funding is typically required? You know, and what, what do people really think about about the ROI on the return on that investment?

Unknown Speaker 36:08


Unknown Speaker 36:10

I can jump in Yeah, so just kind of this actually goes right, piggybacks on what Maria was just talking about, as far as that executive level support. So at blend, our er, G's are very, very much a part of our culture, it's a part of the way that we do the things that we do. And so, you know, in that vein, our employee resource groups are funded through our organization. And so our employee resource group leaders are compensated for their time. And they also have pretty, you know, generous budgets that they that they use to get speakers to come out and talk about topics that are of interest and importance to them, and to have events and to, you know, go out and purchase things for, er G's, while we're in this remote worlds right now. So that everyone can have at their doorstep a package or something that everyone else got to that we can enjoy together. So it is expensive, you know, to to sustain er, G's, but the ROI is, I mean, it's, it's incredible, because through your GS, you are developing, you know, you're enhancing the DI B values. So you you're, you are promoting belonging, like to the max. And so I think that getting that leadership buy in is incredibly important. Because you can a, compensate your leaders, and when you're compensating your leader leaders, you can take a little bit more of their time as a program manager of energies, and develop those leaders. And you can train them on psychological safety and leading inclusive teams and all of those things that should go into the investment on our employee resource groups.

Unknown Speaker 38:30

Anyone else that required as we move on, just in terms of, again, the

Unknown Speaker 38:37

biggest set of budget, right, the biggest investment AI is the hours put in by your big leaders, the volunteers. And then so we're making it mutually beneficial for that. So they're also just by being in this you're part of a pipeline for leadership growth, and the investment made in you to learn skills and get exposure to a level of leadership that you may not have, if you are in your regular role. So I think being very critical about that and we are like our diverse inclusion belonging team is very structured about that. Right? So for instance, when we started our er G and we were in a very ambiguous topic, my focus was less on the member base But on the plus people I was managing, because if I could get them right, they are the future leaders that this company wants to grow as well. And then lastly on return, I would say the return is you can get that from your diversity inclusion belong your equity strategy. Er G's have a lot of intangible returns right? So an example being doing this pandemic in this virtual world. The future work is emotional. Like if you if you are a bad manager, you stood out really well in this virtual right. And when like George Floyd happened when you have ation here happening during the pandemic distress. We saw er G leaders step up in their own teams because they knew how to have conversations, the members knew how to have conversations. And it made it so easy for the leaders that they saw the benefit of having the space for people to connect in a in a very vulnerable way. Ryan,

Unknown Speaker 40:13

if you don't mind, one other thing I hear is I think the importance is also looking internally at synergies, business synergies, there's, you know, by gathering various people of different, you know, departments and subsets in the ER, G's, there's natural resources within those groups. And so for us at Golden State, you know, we've been able to really leverage if we're talking about, you know, women's empowerment month, how are we finding speakers? How are we promoting different initiatives? Well, oh, by the way, we've got people on our partnership team here, who also have, you know, companies that are looking to invest in these other types of things, right? So just natural business synergies, right, or your community team or your PR team? How are you leveraging those internal resources that are, again, naturally going to form within your er G to help drive those initiatives, and I think that that cannot be, you know, go unnoticed. Because, you know, quite often it's an I hear it all the time, we don't have enough budget for this, or we don't have funding for this, or, you know, we have to be really diligent, especially in a pandemic, right. Like, there's a lot of places that people are trying to cost cut here. And so if you can look internally and see who what departments are represented here, what are their business initiatives? And how can this er g help support some of that, I think, is dialogues that we should be having as well. Because at the end of the day, it all comes back to producing, you know, some business results. And you can do that twofold through that.

Unknown Speaker 41:37

Yeah, I think the business imperative is an important one, when just just in thinking about how that comes together, and a number of different ways and understanding where innovation comes from, too, by having those different perspectives at the table. So, you know, as we're getting closer to the end of our time, you know, we do often hear about yorgi, burnout, burnout, because many people are doing two jobs. It's not this is not their only job, they've got another job to do if there was sort of thoughts and advice about how to prevent burnout, or what would that be Shujaat?

Unknown Speaker 42:22

burnout took a very different meaning in the last 12 months for everyone and continues to do so. I think being very, very focused on and not the volume of things, it just few things that you need to get right. And be okay to step away from a lot of things, because a lot of passion goes into er, G's, but then stepping away and saying, you know, there's a lot at stake, what are a few things we need to get done? I'll give an example. During the pandemic, we, you know, six months ago, we realized we were getting a new leadership team together. We said the first six months, if you don't need to do an all hands you want to an all you need to make sure that everyone's right there and they get the right players the in the internal synergies, let's look for places that are going to help us give us more traction, focus on those then drive those and do very few. And that's it. I think, I think that is key being and being able to say no, because if you're in the rd space, you're going to get pulled in by almost every other avenue during this time. Great Maria closing thought on that.

Unknown Speaker 43:33

I think it's similar to burn out with anything. I mean, you got to find what grounds you and you know, you've got to take a break as a working mom of three burnout from everything is real. So, you know, I liked what she just said about finding the things that are trying to prioritize as best as you can and finding the things that you know, will have, you know, real impact right now. But also just taking a second to find the time that grounds you right, you've got to step away. And I think it's very easy in this environment to just stay you know, glued in your computer working on project and passion and all these things, but you got to find a second to take a breath and find what grounds you in that process.

Unknown Speaker 44:09

Yeah, like that about about the nurturing and the feeling. Dana closing word.

Unknown Speaker 44:15

The the people who are getting burnt out the most I would say for the TRG structure and programs are the leaders. And so if we are framing, being a leader of an employee resource group as a priority, and we are investing the resources that are necessary for our leaders to take these groups and run with them and to develop them, then we are going to minimize the burnout. If we have program managers for our er G's who can support and sustain their growth and their journey as they take these employee resource groups to the next level, then we are going to minimize that burnout.

Unknown Speaker 44:54

Well, thank you for talking about energies, the momentum, the intersectionality The cultural imperative the business imperative, and um you know as someone as Nicky said in the in the chat thank you so much Dana Getting Started now and super excited to map out what it could look like for our team. So hopefully and I know that we have inspired people to get more involved with er G's and thank you to this incredible panel Shujaat Maria. Dana, thank you for the your time today and to talk to us about this very important subject. Thank you. Thank you. Bye, everyone. Bye bye bye.

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