Is your ERG measurably effective?

Posted by Elizabeth Pearce on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 09:45 PM

This is a follow up to the blog posted earlier in the week on the evolution of Business Resource Groups (ERGs or BRGs).  They migrate along a recognizable path from an Informal Affinity Group, to a Formal (but still inward-looking) Affinity Group, to an Employee Resource Group (with clear support and resources from the corporation) to the highest level of contribution to the firm, the Resource Business Group.

Business Resource Groups (BRGs) differ from Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) because they have explicit goals which are tied directly to objectives of the business.  Thus, the BRG will have goals for recruiting and business development – which are monitored and regularly reported. 

Two partners from Deloitte’s Atlanta office gave a presentation on metrics for evaluating the maturity and effectiveness of ERGs/BRGs.  Their vocabulary was slightly different, but they also divided these groups into four maturity levels (Beginning, Developing, Advanced, Leading).  These groups are called by many names within companies, and are surprisingly diverse.  American Express, for example, has 50 B/ERGs.

Chip Newton and Kaitlin Porter surveyed 600 B/ERG leaders and believe there are four essential components for a group to be considered a Business Resource Group.  (The following information is from one of their slides.)

  • Employee Driven – American Express requires just five employees in one location to be recognized as in the company as a BRG.
  • Executive Sponsorship – Merrill Lynch requires each BRG to have an executive sponsor who reports to the CEO.  (Often HR is the sponsor when the group first becomes formal, but ultimately Sponsorship needs to be in the C-suite.)
  • Centralized Support, Infrastructure and Funding – Deloitte uses central calendaring and templates for communications and BRG charters to ensure consistency.
  • Supports Business – This is what distinguishes a BRG from an ERG.  PepsiCo developed the Cool Guacamole potato chip while working closely with its Hispanic BRG to make sure the taste, packaging and marketing were “culturally authentic”.

Evaluating ERGDeloitte has developed a number of measurable indicators that are useful in evaluating  BRGs.  Broadly, these fall into three categories:

Profitability – How is the group helping the company to become more profitable?

  • The number of new business relationships secured by the B/ERC.  For example, partners attending an event where Deloitte was a sponsor, would have a meeting the next day to discuss “Who did we meet?” “Who can we follow up with?”

 Productivity – How can the group work on Professional Development?

  • The number of presentations by B/ERC members at diversity focused meetings
  • The number of presentations given by B/ERC members within their professional specialty, in conjunction with other groups (B/ERCs across companies, industry group meetings marketing through the B/ERC, etc.).
  • The number of B/ERG members active in formal mentoring programs.Δ

 People – How is the group impacting recruitment, retention and engagement of B/ERG members?

  • The number of employment referrals given by B/ERC members.  (The B/ERC group gets credit for the talent acquisition, even if the new employee is not part of the group.)
  • The percentage of the B/ERC members participating in community outreach events and adding to the visibility of the firm.  

 We all know that in the business world, What Gets Measured Gets Done.  But measuring the value of the BRCs remains challenging.  Many of the gains and “much of the savings, therefore, is soft and hard to pinpoint“ to quote one of the Deloitte Survey Participants.

One key recommendation is that the metrics listed above get tracked consistently and communicated regularly to the appropriate audience.

We were delighted that Deloitte’s metrics included mentoring.  Mentor Resources provides tools for mentoring including peer-to-peer, reverse mentoring, and cross-pollination programs.  Our matching algorithm is based upon skills, job experience and over a dozen personality traits.  Our software provides tools for improving Knowledge Sharing, Employee Engagement and Retention.

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Topics: diversity, competitive advantage, Knowledge Management, Effective ERGs, Employee Resource Groups