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The LGBTQ community is one of the most marginalized communities in America. The lack of a sense of belonging, coupled with harassment and discrimination often leads to mental health problems such as depression and other forms of emotional distress. These issues can be exacerbated by the lack or unavailability of supportive resources or services for this population. Ultimately, this can lead to poor work performance at work. To help combat these issues, your organization should consider starting an Employee Resource Group (ERG) focused on the LGBTQ employee. This blog post will explore how an LGBTQ ERG can benefit organizations and why you should start one today.
What is an ERG?
An Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a voluntary group made up from members within an organization who share some common traits or interests. These groups can be formed around several commonalities such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, personality type and more. Companies that have ERGs believe in the benefits these programs bring to their organization which is why they're so popular. ERGs are a great way to celebrate diversity within your organization while helping to foster an inclusive and accepting workplace.
When it comes to companies who have an LGBTQ Employee Resource Group (ERG), the most obvious benefit is that it increases employee retention rates by giving employees a sense of belonging for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association estimates that 20% of lesbian gay and bisexual people are going to leave their job within three years because of anti-LGBTQ discrimination at work. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 92% of employees who feel valued at work say that they are likely to remain at their job.
Another important reason to start an ERG is that it helps bridge cultural gaps between management and staff. When LGBTQ people no longer feel afraid to present their true selves, they tend to be much happier, more productive workers. By creating a safe space for people who identify as part of this community in your workplace you're fostering an environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and appreciated.
For businesses looking to expand their talent pool, attracting a diverse workforce is a great place to start. This includes introducing LGBTQ inclusive strategies in the workplace which will be attractive for candidates and customers alike. An ERG is an obvious place to generate ideas on how to attract diverse candidates.
71% of LGBTQ and 82% of allies are more likely to purchase from a company that demonstrates LGBTQ inclusion. Demonstrating inclusion in the workplace by forming an ERG will not only help you create a more unique and innovative business, but also give your organization a better reputation among the people you engage with.
The value of inclusion is rising day by day--it’s no longer just something that benefits marginalized groups; it can make an impact on everyone who meets with your business.
To start an ERG within your organization, you're going to need some help from HR. Your human resources department should have information on other ERGs in place and help you determine if your topic already exists within another group. They may also have been previously contacted by other LGBTQ employees and can give you the names of people that may be interested in joining you. Also, talk to employees in existing ERGs to find advice on important stakeholders to connect with. Finally, they can help you find a meeting space, identify more stakeholders, and set the rules for your meetings. If there are any other challenges your organization may face, HR should know about them.
To get off the ground successfully, an ERG needs these key elements:
- Communication & marketing: Get the word out. Talk to management about the best way to advertise the ERG.
- Availability: Set meeting times that align with your members’ work schedules. Try to make it during lunch break or on an afternoon when most of your workforce is available for a break.
- Established guidelines: Define what's allowed in meetings, such as how much time you have to speak, how you will deal with conflict resolution, and so on. These rules can be set up at the beginning of every meeting or adapted as the group grows and changes. Set clear expectations regarding what topics are off-limits in meetings. You want to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable speaking about LGBTQ issues as well as other aspects of their lives that are important to them.
- A diverse membership: This is key to making your ERG successful. Your group should represent all genders, races, religions, and sexual identities, not just LGBTQ people. You want Allies and those seeking information on the subject. Remember inclusivity is important.
In closing, creating an LGBTQ Employee Resource Group within your organization is a great way to build bridges between employees and management while also fostering a work environment where everyone feels accepted and appreciated. It may seem intimidating at first but when you set up your initial meeting, you will see just how much your group can accomplish with their input.
TransLucent Resources specializes in helping organizations create and foster inclusive work environments. If you need further assistance in setting up your ERG, send us a note at info@translucentresources, or give us a call at 888-506-1117.