Forming New Employee Resource Groups
USG has had employee resource groups (ERGs) that provide opportunities for employees with shared interests and aspirations to celebrate their differences and collaborate to promote diversity and inclusion. The ERGs were typical groups, with affinities focused on race and gender, including African Americans, Hispanics and women's groups. However, our employees wanted to expand beyond these groups and create ERGs to bring more people together with similar preferences and backgrounds, including sexual preferences and those with disabilities.
We founded the LGBT ERG (Pride) by creating an open forum that prompted employees for ideas and recommendations about the group. In addition to identifying an executive sponsor and managing sponsor from USG to lead the forums, we hosted the LGBT ERG leader from Exelon to offer advice on how to form an LGBT resource group. USG Pride aims to attract and retain top talent among the LGBT and ally community, as well as empower our people to bring their authentic selves to work. USG Pride welcomed Lori Fox, a transgender advocate and diversity/business consultant, who spoke as part of an inaugural event. A trip was taken to Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display in Chicago that celebrates LGBT history and people. The LGBT ERG group communicated National Coming Out Day to USG employees.
The approach to forming the Disabilities ERG was similar. We partnered with Chicago-area organizations with similar ERGs to exchange benchmarking and best practices. The group identified an executive sponsor and managing sponsors, and we held meetings with interested employees to gather their recommendations. USG Disabilities assists in the recruitment and retention of employees with disabilities, supports employees who have family members with disabilities, raises awareness, and dispels myths about disabilities. The USG Disabilities ERG held an inaugural autism event, and partnered with the local special Olympics chapter, Easter Seals and Giant Steps.
Both ERGs are flourishing with committed leaders and many more employees participating in the group events/activities. These voluntary groups play an important role in supporting a diverse and engaged workforce. They provide employees with development and networking opportunities, enhance cultural and leadership competencies, and offer opportunities to make differences at USG both today and in the future.
I believe the success of our organization and our workforce depends on our ability to understand, embrace and respect the values of all people.