Defining ERG Roles and Responsibilities for Success

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a growing presence in corporate life. These internal workplace affinity groups offer an opportunity for workers with common identities and interests to build a supportive community based on shared experiences. Employee resource groups can be powerfully positive within organizations—but they need the right resources and structure.

Defining ERG roles and responsibilities is essential for workplace success. Clear delineation ensures effective operation and contribution towards organizational goals. Plus, effective leadership is key to achieving the full benefits of ERGs, including a more inclusive culture, diverse workforce, positive work environment, employee satisfaction and increased retention.

What is an Employee Resource Group?

An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a group that offers an opportunity for colleagues with mutual interests or identities to come together for socialization, support and career development. ERGs are often created for underrepresented or historically disadvantaged groups such as women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA, veterans or persons with disabilities. But ERGs also form around other commonalities such as parenting, caregiving, wellness and more. ERGs can help companies improve engagement and feelings of inclusion and connection, resulting in key benefits of better company culture, performance and employee retention.

Why is it Important to Define ERG Roles and Responsibilities?

In a successful employee resources group, interactions between all members are an essential part of the experience. However, ERG leaders have an important role to fill in building the structure that supports the ERG and keeps it moving forward. From defining the group’s mission to organizing events, leaders are crucial for fostering ERG participation and ensuring the group runs smoothly. ERG leaders create continuity, provide guidance to employee group members and communicate and collaborate with senior leadership and others inside and outside of the organization.

man and woman employee at an Employee resource group meeting in the office

Types of ERG Roles and Responsibilities

There are ERG roles and responsibilities to follow for every program. Every ERG is unique with its own leadership needs—and these needs will evolve over time. For example, a relatively small ERG may start with just a few leaders and add more as it grows. It’s also true that individual ERGs may define leadership roles in their own way, and leaders shape roles according to group characteristics and their interests and talents. Here are some of the most common types of ERG leadership roles.

President or Chair

The president or chair is the top leader within all ERG roles and responsibilities, and they are in charge of ensuring the group fulfills its mission. This person also represents the group to the company leadership team and other outside organizations. Generally, the president or chair will have strong communication and advocacy skills. The president/chair should be an effective leader with the ability to strategize and create a vision along with emphasizing the link between ERG initiatives and the broader company DEI strategy and engagement across the organization. Additionally, it’s also important for an ERG lead to have the interpersonal skills to make members feel welcome and supported while building community.

Vice President or Vice Chair

The vice president or vice chair is second in command regarding ERG roles and responsibilities, supporting the president/chair of the ERG in whatever way is needed. This may vary widely according to the size of the ERG and the group’s unique requirements. The person in this role should be able to assess what’s needed and pitch in to fill in the gaps while communicating closely with the president/chair and carrying out their directives.

Treasurer

ERGs with allocated funding need a treasurer to manage budgets, track funding inflows and outflows and control ERG spending. This role is responsible for keeping financial records and ensuring compliance with rules and regulations. An ERG treasurer is the point person for the financial strategy for the group and any fundraising ideas or opportunities. Ideally, the treasurer should have the financial background to create and maintain financial goals and management systems for the group.

Marketing and Communications

The ERG role and responsibility of the marketing and communications lead include promoting the ERG internally and externally. This may include keeping group members informed about events and initiatives and facilitating discussion through email, social media, web content, newsletters and more. This person also leads marketing initiatives to boost exposure for the group and is responsible for official communications with media and other external groups. The marketing lead should have a strong background in the field and the ability to strategize and execute campaigns according to best practices.

Membership and Culture

The membership and culture lead focus on increasing and managing membership and guiding the culture of the ERG. This role is essential to a successful ERG and requires excellent personal and organizational skills. This person must be able to create a positive, welcoming culture, coordinate ERG activities and initiatives, and create protocols to help the group run smoothly and stay on track with its membership goals. Depending on the size and structure of the group, these responsibilities may also be taken on by other leaders.
group of employees walking down an office hallway on the way to ERG meeting

How to Recruit Effective ERG Leaders

As with any organization, good leaders have a huge impact on ERGs’ success, but it can be a challenge to place the right people in each respective ERG role. In many cases, ERG leaders are volunteers, and they need to have passion for the group and what it can accomplish. They also need to be willing to invest their time to serve as leaders. If you are working to convince the best candidates to commit to leadership roles in an ERG, here are a few tactics that can help.

The ERG roles and responsibilities weigh heavily on the ERG leaders. The ERG leaders typically invest quite a bit of time to keep the group going—along with increasing their load of responsibilities. This can be daunting for many potential candidates, so it’s important to make that investment worth their while. Some incentives could include:

Compensation

Compensation may be the most direct and effective way to make sure leaders know their contribution is valued. You’ll also likely increase the pool of potential candidates by creating paid leadership positions. But it must be clear the goals, expectations and responsibilities tied to possible compensation offerings.

Rewards and recognition

Payment isn’t the only way to recognize ERG leaders; rewards and recognition can go a long way. This can come in the form of a shoutout in the company newsletter, special events or rewards just for ERG leaders, formal company-wide recognition, or even time off or flexible work schedules to accommodate ERG roles and responsibilities. It’s important for companies to let their ERG leaders know that their contributions are celebrated and appreciated.

Career advancement opportunities

Being an ERG leader is more than just a volunteer role – it’s a key component of their professional journey. When a company integrates ERG leadership roles into a comprehensive career advancement plan, it can be a powerful motivator. Whether the employee aspires to climb the corporate ladder, transition into a new role or explore different career paths, it’s vital for companies to align their ERG leaders’ experience with their long-term career goals.

Market to them

Potential ERG leaders are more motivated to serve when they understand the positives of ERG work and the impact they can have. The organization can help paint this picture with communications and marketing initiatives aimed at recruiting potential ERG leadership candidates. The messaging should appeal to the type of leaders the ERG needs, reflecting their goals, passions and work styles.
 

Six compelling ways to recruit ERG leaders:

  • Drive Change: ERGs provide a platform for driving meaningful change within the organization, allowing leaders to advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives that matter most to them and their communities.
  • Build Community: By leading an ERG, individuals have the opportunity to build strong, supportive communities where employees with shared backgrounds, experiences and interests can come together to network, collaborate, and grow professionally and personally.
  • Amplify Voices: ERG leaders play a crucial role in amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups, ensuring that diverse perspectives are heard, valued and integrated into decision-making processes throughout the organization.
  • Professional Development: Serving as an ERG leader provides valuable opportunities for professional development, including leadership training, public speaking engagements, event planning and project management – all of which can enhance skills and bolster resumes.
  • Networking Opportunities: ERG leadership offers unparalleled networking opportunities, allowing individuals to connect with like-minded professionals, industry leaders and executives both within and outside the organization.
  • Recognition and Visibility: ERG leaders receive recognition and visibility for their contributions, both within the organization and beyond, positioning them as champions of diversity and inclusion and opening doors to new opportunities for career advancement and growth.

male employee at ERG meeting sitting next to female colleague smiling

How to Support Employee Resource Groups

Supporting ERGs is essential to ensuring their success and maximizing their impact on the organization’s diversity, inclusion and engagement initiatives. Finding great ERG leaders is one way to support them, but it’s also critical for company leadership to support ERGs with resources. Executive leaders can contribute invaluable support by offering resources that the ERG would be hard-pressed to get on their own. Here are three ways companies can support ERGs effectively.

Training and Development

Companies can provide workshops and training sessions on topics such as team building, event planning, public speaking, and diversity and inclusion awareness. These workshops can equip ERG leaders and members with the practical skills and knowledge needed to plan and execute successful initiatives, engage with diverse audiences and navigate challenging situations.

Budget

ERGs have an important job to do—creating support for employees, improving their workplace experience and boosting their engagement. Funding is essential to success. It makes the work possible and also signals business leaders’ commitment to and support of the ERG, its members and its mission. Without adequate resources, ERGs may struggle to fulfill their objectives and make a meaningful impact on the organization.

ERG Software

Having the right software can make a huge difference in the success of an ERG. ERG software platforms offer structure and tools to support unique ERG functions and simplify management so ERG leaders and administrators can use their time to support the group’s mission.

Chronus ERG software provides effective and efficient ERG management. Also, Chronus ERG software can help those who have significant ERG roles and responsibilities. The Chronus module offers:

  • streamlined management
  • robust reporting
  • integrated communications
  • event scheduling

When connected with Chronus mentoring software, the ERG platform can also connect participants with career and leadership development opportunities through mentoring relationships. With this all-in-one solution, leaders can focus on ensuring their members feel connected, understood and developed.
 

Conclusion

Effective leadership—or the lack of it—can make or break employee resource groups. To set ERGs up for success, organizations should define leadership roles, set expectations for how these roles are fulfilled, and recruit quality candidates with the passion and skills to drive positive momentum. It’s equally important for organizations to support leaders with the resources they need to thrive on the job. Taking these steps can ensure that enterprises effectively foster the many benefits ERGs can bring to the workplace.

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