Diversity, BRGs, ERGs and Mentor Programs

Posted by Elizabeth Pearce on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 08:55 AM
Historically, managers would think of diversity in terms of race, but more recently most of us have come to understand diversity in terms of different life experiences and ways of thinking.  Diversity now covers race, ethnic backgrounds, demographic groups, and many large companies had dozens of Employee Resource Groups (ERG) or Business Resource Groups (BRG). One opportunity before organizations today is how to leverage employees natural affinities into higher profits. For this opportunity, Mentor Programs are a useful tool. 
Tom Belanger wrote an excellent blog (How to Get The Best Ideas From Your Team AND Your Expanded Team)  about Ben Franklin and his advisors, known as the Junto Society.   Franklin’s junto was made up of twelve individuals, and included three from the field of printing, a scrivener who loved poetry and natural history, a glazier who was also a mathematician and inventor, two surveyors, one of whom was a cobbler and astrologer, a cabinetmaker, and a gentleman who provided a large library. They all provided a different angle on how to improve society and pursue truth. Their inventions are legendary. They invented the concept of hospitals, fire brigades, lending libraries, paved roads and many other innovations.
Once again, Ben Franklin was way ahead of his time.  Today, diversity managers understand Franklin’s key concept diversity of people with different experiences and backgrounds see things differently. We assume these differences include in age, gender, race and ways of thinking.  We get excited as we see Employee Resource Groups (ERG) expand to cross silos and SBUs:  we see the potential for improved creativity and enhanced communication through the BRGs.  We also see leadership opportunities arise for emerging leaders and individuals with the potential to move onto the high potential track.  

So, the question is always, how do you get from the potential to the improved bottom-line results?

Evaluating Resource Group Maturity resized 600
Mentor Programs remain one of the most cost effective tools for helping individuals.  In addition, if your program is focused on a goal of moving Employee Resource Groups towards a more strategically oriented Business Resource Group, the process depends on guiding each ERG’s leaders toward that goal.  What make a BRG different from and ERG?  Focusing the membership’s energies on marketing messages to their affinity group, or gaining input on improving recruitment and retention, or improvements in profitability with brainstorming sessions … or broad-based increases in management skill and organic growth of diversity in the high potential track. 
All of these can be enhanced with a strong mentor program, which is almost impossible to administrate without the right tools.  Talk to us.  We have a variety of tool available to help your organization start, expand or improve large, formal mentor programs.
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Topics: diversity, eMentor, Employee Resource Groups