A Roadmap to Investing in Diversity: Employee Resource Groups

Katie Jahangiri May 8, 2018 Culture, Employee Engagement

Because of the nature of our company, we talk a lot about how you can engage your employees to give back to the causes they care about in the community, but how are you engaging your employees within the office? That’s a question we’re continuing to answer with the formation of our specialized Women of YourCause Employee Resource Group (ERG). With 57% of our employees identifying as female, there’s no denying that we’re making incredible strides to promote women advancing in the SaaS space. Regardless, there’s always work to be done to acknowledge the intersection between inclusion and advocacy for cisgender and transgender women’s leadership development.

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Top Companies Setting the Bar

As always, we’re inspired by top socially responsible companies. Take Dell, for example, who not only has a robust Women’s ERG, but has also made a commitment to supporting female entrepreneurs through their Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network and Women’s Summit. Or PepsiCo, who is an endorser of the United Nations’ Women Empowerment Principles (WEP) and started The Pinnacle Group, aimed at increasing retention of their female sales talent to strengthen their future leadership pipeline. It’s not a coincidence that the same companies that invest in their diversity and inclusion continue to rank as top companies for women to work for, and that trend is only expected to go up as more and more millennials are deciding which companies they want to spend 40 (or more) hours of their week with.

 

Our Roadmap for the Women of YourCause

According to Women Igniting Change, “forward-thinking corporations are now leveraging their ERG’s into a valuable business resource – one that ties back to corporate objectives and impacts their brand in the marketplace.” It’s simple: investing in professional development is good for the company’s bottom line and internal pipeline. Here are some of the ways that we’re building our initial roadmap for the Women of YourCause ERG:

 

CAREER PATHING: I once had the opportunity to listen to a prominent nonprofit leader talk about her own career path. She likened her trajectory to “a lattice, not a ladder.” Career pathing is a process that’s important for every employee because it shows that they’re being invested in by the company. Our plan is to work with our executive sponsors — Odessa Jenkins, VP of Client Services and Cassie White, VP of Human Resources — to conduct a career pathing workshop for each department head, so that they can facilitate those workshops with each member of their team.

MENTORSHIP: We’re aiming to be inclusive of all women, and their varying schedules. One of the things we’re organizing is a monthly event where women from all departments come together with brown-bag lunches and guide each other through targeted group conversation. Not only is this a great way to get to know your colleagues from all departments, but sharing a meal over a strategic discussion about leadership is a productive way to spend an hour.

ENGAGING THROUGH GROUPS: Did you know that we use our platform to manage our own giving and volunteering? We’re also using our platform to manage our ERG’s. Having a central place to create events, share documents, post photos, and give updates allows us to keep our newly formed group organized and efficient, especially as we look for better ways to engage our remote workforce.

BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN: One of our goals is to bring thought-leaders in to speak to us every other month about their experiences, ideas, and career paths. Thankfully, we have strong partnerships with incredible corporate social responsibility professionals who work tirelessly every day towards strengthening the diversity and inclusion in (and outside of) their companies. If you’re interested in being involved, please let me know.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: What I love most about YourCause is that we have an incredible company culture. There’s always someone willing to share their knowledge, expertise, or a few laughs and everyone is encouraged to be themselves. As the company grows, making an intentional effort to foster employee relationships in and outside of work helps us to preserve our company values. For our women’s group, we’re working to create avenues for volunteering together, supporting local organizations that help women and opportunities to form connections with others who can help shape our professional future.

 

Empowering Each Other

Along the way, I’ve been lucky to have compassionate female mentors (thank you Miah, Wendy, Karen, and Ariane). Women who weren’t only my colleagues or bosses, but personally invested their time to help me grow and then — unselfishly — walked me through my decision to make a career switch. As a Sales Development Manager, my role isn’t to build CSR programs; it’s to grow our pipeline. But, that’s the beauty of our approach —anyone who sees a need can take concrete steps to organize something that has undeniable benefits for our employees. Building on our amazing culture to include this level of mentorship, advocacy, and empowerment to all women in the company gives us continued success at retaining and developing talent (and that includes the amazing women on my Sales Development team). More than that, people want to work for a business where they know they’re valued and invested in.

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While we specialize in CSR technology, we’re also part of the Global Good Network. We want to hear from you! What are you doing to build your ERG’s, empower women in your company, and shape your internal culture to be more diverse and inclusive? We’re just now getting started, but check back in, in the next three months for an update on our progress. In the meantime, we can’t wait to hear stories of personal success within your ERG’s and your ideas to invest in professional development.