Employees’ sense of belonging is a key factor in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) objectives and supports increased employee engagement. Employee resource groups emerge as a noteworthy avenue for enhancing a sense of belonging among staff. The employees’ participation is an investment into the organization, fostering new initiatives and relationship-building.  


Employee resource groups (ERGs), also known as affinity groups, are collectives of employees united by common interests. These groups may form on a voluntary basis or be initiated by the organization itself. ERGs commonly revolve around racial identity, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and national origin. Some of the major benefits of ERGs include an increase in productivity, employee comfortability, employee engagement, and employee retention. 


ERGs have a pivotal role in organizations, impacting various aspects of workplace dynamics. Currently, 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs. According to McKinsey & Company’s ‘Effective Employee Resource Groups: Key Drivers of Inclusion at Work,’ ERGs enhance feelings of inclusion among traditionally underrepresented employees. They also contribute to attracting and retaining talent, all while aligning with the organization’s DEI strategy.


The Barthwell Group, a trusted DEIB advisor to organizations throughout the United States, has assisted our clients in the development and growth of ERGs. The Barthwell Group’s approach to effective ERGs rests on three pillars: 

  1. Displayed Leadership Commitment: Creating a successful ERG lies in active involvement and sponsorship from organizational leaders. Commitment, both in time and resources, is critical to realizing the benefits of ERGs and continued growth.  
  1. Integration into Organizational Strategy: Effective ERGs have a seamless integration within the overall strategy and a clear purpose / vision. Organizations must not only develop their unique business case for ERGs, but also metrics to understand the impact within their organization. This approach empowers a purpose-driven nature of their initiatives and reaffirm their continuity beyond mere recreational endeavors.  
  1. Professional Development Opportunities: Successful ERGs provide professional development opportunities, both for employee groups and the organization at large. Employees are able to take active leadership roles, network across teams and organizational levels, and participate in projects outside of their job scope.  


Some examples of The Barthwell Group’s strategies to support the development and effectiveness of ERGs include developing an implementation / framework for ERG, discussions / workshops on ERG best practices, and assessments of an organization’s ERGs.  


Overall, The Barthwell Group offers a comprehensive suite of strategies to develop and maintain successful ERGs, spanning leadership engagement, strategic alignment, and professional enrichment. These strategies can support a sense of belonging, increasing employee engagement and fostering an environment of innovation and cohesion.

If you are interested in additional content related to our work, please sign up for our monthly newsletter: Sign Up Here

Newsletter March 2024

Interested in our services? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with The Barthwell Group: Click Here