Advancing DEI Through Mentorship

Far too often, Employee Resource Groups, also known as ERGs, are often overlooked for the power they posses in being mentorship powerhouses in organizations. Sadly, many ERGs end up being “side-of-the-desk” activities for already over-worked employees or worse, regulated to checkbox activities and only activated for events related to equity-deserving months, like Black History month or Pride month. But what if we reframed how we viewed ERGs from compliance-related sets of activities into Mentorship Powerhouses where we can propel emerging leaders forward in their careers? What I would like to propose is how we leaders can set the table by creating a winning strategy for both mentorship and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. 

I am a big fan of the TV show Ted Lasso, so I will be making some sport references, that said, even if you don’t follow football (or soccer here in North America) that is ok because as leaders we all have probably experienced a scenario where we have a player (aka employee) who is high-will but maybe lacking or needs development in their skillset or competencies. So, the question always is – “what do we do with this individual? How do we get them to level-up? How do we make them better tomorrow than they are today?” 

The Starting Line-Up: ERGs as Mentorship Hubs 

Picture this: Your organization is a football team, and ERGs are your star players, each bringing a unique skillset to the pitch. Now, let's talk about transforming these ERGs into the mentorship dream team for emerging leaders. 

Goal setting with ERGs: A Kickoff for Success 

Every great journey starts with a goal, right? ERGs can be the ultimate support squad for emerging leaders looking to score big in their careers. By aligning the goals of ERGs with professional development and mentorship, we create a winning formula. It's like setting up the perfect formation for success! 

Imagine a 2SLGBTQI+ ERG guiding a rising star through the corporate landscape, sharing experiences, and fostering an inclusive environment. We have seen successful organizations add specific ERG responsibilities to a formal part of the individual’s performance review and have seen overall leadership competencies develop and grow. Or a Women's Leadership ERG providing a platform for mentorship that empowers women to break through the glass ceiling. When ERGs become the goalposts, emerging leaders have a clear path to victory. 

The Assist: ERGs Facilitating Mentorship Connections 

In the world of football, an assist can be just as crucial as the goal itself. ERGs can be the ultimate assists by facilitating meaningful mentorship connections. By creating mentorship programs within ERGs, organizations can pair emerging leaders with experienced mentors who can pass on their knowledge and skills. 

Think of it like a seasoned striker passing the ball to an up-and-coming talent. ERGs can be the matchmakers, connecting mentors and mentees based on shared interests, experiences, and goals. This way, emerging leaders don't just have mentors; they have mentors who understand their unique journey and challenges. 

Half-Time Pep Talks: ERG Events for Continuous Learning 

At half-time, coaches give pep talks to inspire and motivate their teams. ERGs can do the same through engaging events that foster continuous learning and development. Workshops, seminars, and networking events organized by ERGs create a dynamic learning environment for emerging leaders. 

Whether it's a webinar on leadership skills hosted by the Veterans ERG or a panel discussion on navigating corporate culture led by the Disabilities ERG, these events offer emerging leaders a chance to absorb insights, gain valuable skills, and build a network that stretches far beyond the playing field. 

Scoring a Hat-Trick: ERGs and DEI Advancement 

Now, let's pivot to how ERGs not only groom emerging leaders but also act as game-changers in the realm of DEI. A 2021 McKinsey Race in the Workplace Survey found that effective ERGs led to significant improvements in employee engagement scores across a variety of dimensions which included: Employee community building, external engagement, allyship, leadership connection and career development. Now let’s chat about other areas where ERGS can level up your DEI efforts. 

Diversity in Leadership: ERGs Breaking Barriers 

In the spirit of diversity, ERGs are the ultimate game-changers. By harnessing the power of ERGs for mentorship, organizations can break down barriers that have kept certain groups from reaching leadership positions. When underrepresented voices are heard and amplified through mentorship, we create a more diverse leadership landscape that mirrors the richness of a well-played football match. 

Equity Through ERGs: Leveling the Playing Field 

Equity is like ensuring that every player on the field has an opportunity to shine. ERGs play a crucial role in promoting equity by providing mentorship opportunities to all, regardless of background or identity. By actively involving ERGs in mentorship initiatives, organizations signal a commitment to creating a level playing field where everyone has an equitable shot at success. 

Inclusion Goals: ERGs as Inclusive Safe Spaces 

Imagine a football team where every player feels included, valued, and heard. That's the goal of ERGs when it comes to fostering an inclusive workplace. By embracing ERGs as mentorship hubs, organizations create safe spaces where emerging leaders can bring their authentic selves to the game. Inclusive mentorship within ERGs ensures that everyone feels seen and supported, driving home the point that diversity is not just a buzzword but a lived experience. 

A Championship Finish: ERGs as Catalysts for Cultural Change 

In Ted Lasso's world, it's not just about the wins; it's about changing the game and leaving a lasting impact. ERGs, when utilized as mentorship opportunities for emerging leaders, become the catalysts for cultural change within an organization. 

Fostering a Growth Mindset: Learning from Each Other 

Ted always says, "Believe in yourself, but also believe in the folks around you." ERGs embody this philosophy by fostering a growth mindset where everyone learns from each other. Mentorship within ERGs creates a culture of continuous improvement, where emerging leaders and seasoned professionals alike can grow together. 

Building Bridges: ERGs Strengthening Team Bonds 

ERGs act as the glue that binds the diverse elements of a team together. By championing mentorship within these groups, organizations strengthen the bonds between employees, creating a sense of unity that goes beyond departmental or hierarchical lines. It's like having a locker room where everyone cheers for each other's success. 

Championing Inclusivity: ERGs Setting the Standard 

Ted Lasso always emphasizes the importance of setting the right example. ERGs, by championing mentorship and DEI initiatives, set the standard for what an inclusive workplace looks like. This not only attracts top talent but also positions the organization as a leader in the industry, ready to tackle the future with a diverse and inclusive team. 

In the end, utilizing ERGs as mentorship opportunities for emerging leaders is a game-changer. It's about more than just career growth; it's about creating a workplace where everyone feels valued, supported, and inspired to be their best selves. So, lace up those boots, grab your playbook, and let's score some goals together on the journey to a more inclusive and successful organization.  

Here at CCDI Consulting, our mission is to create economic and social benefits through DEI in the workplace. As a team, we are committed to helping organizations overcome the challenges of implementing DEI initiatives, whether it be through training, action planning, or ongoing support. We aim to make diversity and inclusion a central pillar of organizational success, driving long-term business results and making a positive impact on the communities we serve. Let’s chat to see how we can help your organization level up, share additional resources with you and lead like Lasso.  

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