Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be a powerhouse of collaboration and change around ED&I issues. However many organisations struggle to get them working effectively. Here are 5 tips for making your resource groups sing (figuratively, not literally – that would be cruel). You can find out more about the Burges Salmon resource groups here.

1. Set clear remit and objectives

Do you want your ERGs to be a support network for employees? Do you want them to raise awareness of key issues? Or input into strategic decisions? An ERG can be any of these, but it’s important to clearly set the remit so that volunteers sign up knowing what to expect. Similarly, support your groups to take stock and set a small number of focused objectives each year. It will allow them to deliver on what really matters to your people and avoid getting too distracted by the flotsam and jetsam around the ED&I agenda.

2. Give them time and space to work

When ERGs get moving there can be a lot of work to be done to keep up with the building interest. Arranging events and learning sessions, keeping track of memberships, communicating, providing social spaces and measuring progress. People need space earmarked in their working weeks to deliver upon these. Build structure into your job roles and review processes to make sure people are encouraged, rewarded and recognised for the work they deliver around ED&I and responsible business.

3. Use them as focus groups

One of the powerful elements of ERGs is they can be ‘critical friends’ in assessing the way your business operates; identifying better and more successful people and business strategies that you can implement. For example they can input into the way you recruit, inform how to get the right balance for hybrid working or advise on how to train inclusive leaders (all recent examples of consultations with Burges Salmon resource groups). Run listening sessions with your ERGs to gain their views on what matters, but make sure you follow this up with an explanation of how you are taking the information forward into action. And don’t forget to give them credit for their valuable help.

4. Train the leaders

As with running any organisation, ERG leaders need core skills around governance, engaging stakeholders and effective communications. At Burges Salmon we invested in training for our ERG leaders (we have two to three co-chairs for each group) and management teams to ensure they feel supported and equipped to perform their roles. Business in the Community (BITC) deliver excellent, focused training for us in this area.

5. Celebrate their achievements and contributions

Sometimes in the busy day-to-day we can forget to stop and reflect. Finding moments throughout the year to thank and reflect on the achievements of your resource groups – led, after all, by your dedicated people – can give those people recognition and a massive boost. We recognise our D&I stars at our annual inclusion week lunch, our firmwide 'outstanding service contribution award' (OSCA) ceremony and key firmwide events such as our D&I Update webinar and AGM.