Dell received the 2012 DiversityInc Special Recognition award for the computer company’s commitment to Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Regular readers of the Mentor Resources Industry Commentary know that there is a difference between Business Resource Groups (BRGs), Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Affinity Groups, with groups aligned with the organization’s strategic goals (Business Resource Groups) being the ultimate goal. Dell’s award was no surprise to any observer of the ERGs or BRGs. There have been articles about Dell’s efforts to attract and retain a diverse workforce since 2006, when Strategic HR Magazine published, "Embracing and managing diversity at Dell: Introducing flexible working and a women’s network to help retain key employees."
Dell sponsors a community of networking groups around ethnicity, gender, nationality, lifestyle, and sexual orientation. BRGs offer networking opportunities, but also reinforce the company’s message of the importance of trust. Trust between colleagues, and between the company and its’ customers, is central Dell’s business.
The Business Resource Groups (ERG) provide encouragement and an enhanced sense of belonging through informal mentoring, professional and community events and access to personal and professional development and growth. Additionally, networking groups help foster a more inclusive work environment, improve communication among employees and enhance understanding of all employees about the value of diversity.
When thinking about ERGs, the question on the mind of most Diversity Executives is “How can we mature our ERGs (or the Affinity Groups) from social groups into groups more aligned with our business objectives?” Throughout this website, you will find a number of articles on how to measure and define the maturity of your employee resource groups – and tools that are helpful to shifting their focus.
For Dell, there is a company-wide focus on diversity, with more than 1500 executives, managers and employees participating in cross-functional teams to ensure that diversity is integrated into every aspect of the firm. These employees exchange best practices, promote accountability, and align Dell's diversity initiatives with divisional and corporate objectives across the company.
They keep everyone, including the BRG members, focused on 3 critical business imperatives:
- To provide a great Customer Experience, which requires a workforce reflective of Dell’s customers;
- To access the best and brightest talent the marketplace has to offer; and
- To focus on global expansion with employees who understand the various cultures, with a clear goal of gaining a competitive advantage in each local marketplace.
If you would like more information about Employee Resource Groups and managing mentoring programs in the context of diversity programs for large organizations, contact us directly.