Women of YourCause Employee Resource Group: 3 Month Update

Katie Jahangiri September 5, 2018 About YourCause

Over the past three months, our Women of YourCause Employee Resource Group (ERG) has focused on growth, engagement, and providing meaningful experiences to the women in our company. When I think back to planning sessions with our VP of Human Resources, trying to find the best way to engage women in and throughout our remote offices, I couldn’t imagine we would be where we are today and that all different women would step up to support one another in such a short amount of time. Through lunch and learns, meaningful Happy Hours, inspirational speakers, and even teaching each other to code — we’ve accomplished a lot since our first blog post. Since our very first kickoff meeting on May 9th to now, here are my top four takeaways from our first three months as an official ERG:

 

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Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Other

The first two events we held centered around the idea of Investing in Women. I remember scheduling our first Lunch & Learn on the topic, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, thinking no one would show up — or, at the very least, only the women on my team would attend. I’ve never been so relieved to be wrong. Not only did the wonderful women from Sales Development show up, but women from all departments, as well as our remote staff throughout the country, joined via video call to learn more.

 

We gathered together with our brown bag lunches and exchanged stories of times we felt like we were faking it in our jobs. From there, we broke out into groups (yes, even remotely) and talked about ways we intended to overcome the feelings of imposter syndrome once and for all. It was one of the first times that some of these women had interacted with each other and it was important for them to know how connected they were in a feeling that’s prevalent, yet rarely discussed. Knowing that there are other women within our own company that feel the same way we do was our first “a-ha” moment as an employee resource group and gave us a foundation to build off of.

 

Bringing in Outside Inspiration is Essential

I learned a long time ago that I got to the place I am now because someone invested in my growth, which was the main point I wanted to highlight when I organized our ERG’s first Happy Hour. The theme was The Women Who Inspire Us and each woman was asked to bring a female guest who had a major impact on their personal and/or professional growth. Not only was it a beautiful way to highlight these women who had inspired us on our own journeys, but it allowed our group to start building relationships with others, too. On that night, we all had a chance to hear stories and honor these women for having such a tremendous impact on our own development.

 

Employee Resource Group

Women of YourCause: Employee Resource Group, The Women Who Inspire Us Happy Hour

 

Another way we brought outside inspiration in was by asking Janiece Evans-Page, VP of Global Philanthropy & Sustainability for Fossil, to speak to the Women of YourCause during our lunch hour. To date, this event boasted the highest attendance out of all of our ERG events, with over 30 women gathered in our Plano Office and even more in our remote offices. Engaging our busiest employees has been our biggest challenge, but Janiece’s presence solidified the importance of why we formed the ERG in the first place: to invest in each other, to constantly inspire, and to show women what’s possible when we take part in each other’s professional growth.

 

It’s Not All About Developing Soft Skills

One of the most valuable lessons I personally learned from this experience came when I sent out the first company-wide survey on how our ERG was doing. I wanted women — whether they had ever attended an event or not — to tell me how we could better engage them. The results were surprising, to say the least. The majority of women found the group valuable, but they didn’t feel represented in their professional paths. The most eye-opening feedback came from a colleague I most admire when she expressed that she wished there were more opportunities to build hands-on skills; not just high-level leadership and soft skills.

 

This moment was a turning point for the Women of YourCause Employee Resource Group.

 

With that piece of crucial feedback, we were able to more strategically organize our next events. We engaged our front and back-end developers to host an Intro to HTML Lunch & Learn. Women gathered by Zoom and in a conference room to learn the basics of HTML within our platform, but more importantly, to meet some of the women who were true inspirations to our company. This event has truly had the most follow-up events requested, inspiring women across all different departments to want to learn to code and continue to build off of the basic training they received that day. More importantly, feedback allowed us to engage a vital group of women who hadn’t attended events in the past and let them know what an impact their ideas have on our company.

 

Employee Resource Group

Women of YourCause: Employee Resource Group, Intro to HTML Lunch & Learn

Look to Build a Community — Not Just an ERG

Maybe this last point is obvious to some, but it wasn’t to me until our last event. One of the most important things to come out of our employee resource group was that women have started building relationships with other women outside of the context of just being colleagues. I’ve watched one of our front-end developers help another employee design her personal blog in their spare time. Likewise, a reporting analyst has helped me along my own journey through international adoption by sending me traditional Chinese recipes. When one of our employees moved away, women rallied around her to throw an incredible farewell Happy Hour. All of these things tell me that if you’re building an ERG right, you’re not just creating a hub for resources within the company — you’re building a community. All in all, the culture is one of the most incredible parts of YourCause and seeing how it has grown in the short time I’ve been here has truly solidified why I think it’s one of the best places to work. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for the Women of YourCause.

 

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Building Your Own Employee Resource Group

Have you thought about starting your own ERG at work? We’ve created some great resources to help you do just that! Check out our blog on How-To Start Your Own Employee Resource Group and download our ERG Checklist to help get you started.