Getting Started

So you’re excited to poke around this wiki. (Who wouldn’t? It’s riveting!) Here are our top strategies for getting started.

How to approach HR to get started

We all know HR often calls the shots around employee engagement. The best way to launch or strengthen your ERG is to get their buy-in. Get that power suit ready and pitch your group to your new bffs. It’s not you vs. them, it’s one-for-all when it comes to culture building.

Scenario One:

Let’s say your company is ahead of the game, and already has some existing ERGs. They’re in the know. Not their first rodeo.

Here’s how you can approach HR:

Subject: {{First name}}, Have an idea for you!

Hi there,

This is {{First name}} from {{Team}}. We met at the {{May the 4th Star Wars event}}. Hope this finds you well!

Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Ariana Grande and I wish to start an LGBTQ ERG here at {{Company Name}}. We’ve really enjoyed the {{other ERG}} programming, and would love to further enrich our company culture with LGBTQ-focused events, fireside chats and socials. We’ve put together a mission statement and values statement, and rough preliminary budget (attached).

Are you open to a cup of coffee this week to discuss how we can create a more inclusive work environment for queer and trans folks?

We’re free this Thursday and Friday during lunch, or whenever is convenient for you. Thanks and talk soon!

Cheers, Mariah Carey

Scenario Two:

Let’s say your company is a nascent, baby-faced angel that’s perhaps only heard of ERGs in picture books.

Here’s how you can approach HR:

Subject: {{First name}}, Check this out!
Hi new HR friend,

This is {{First name}} from {{Team}}. We met at the {{May the 4th Star Wars event}}. Hope this finds you well!

Why We’re Here:
Karen, we need your help! Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, Ariana Grande and I wish to start an LGBTQ employee resource group (ERG) here at {{Company Name}}.
Our ERG is a group for LGBTQ+ individuals, friends and allies, that will convene on a regular basis to connect, learn more about each other, and support company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities. We are also interested to organize company-wide LGBTQ-focused events or initiatives that will be open to all.
We wanted to get your input, and see if it’d be possible for the company to support this group, and continue to evolve our culture here so that all employees feel like they truly belong.

On the fence?

ERGs have been shown to increase business impact, reduce turnover, and enhance workplace performance across sectors, from NASA to 90% of Fortune 500 Companies. They are unified by one common aim: to foster employee belonging, mutual learning and empowerment.

Next Steps: We’ve already drafted a Mission Statement, Values statement, and broad-strokes preliminary budget (attached). Are you open to a cup of coffee this week to discuss with us?

We’re free this Thursday and Friday during lunch, or whenever is convenient for you. Thanks.

Cheers, Mariah Carey

How to get started if no HR team (#startuplife)

Small but scrappy startups often lack HR folks. In this case, there may be more ambiguity about how to take the first few steps. Launching an ERG might be as simple as announcing it at a company-wide meeting. Try an informal lunch with a Lemonade-stand-style Sharpied banner. Get together in a conference room with a box of Safeway Rainbow cookies. Whether you’re a large corporation or a startup of <100 employees, it’s a-okay to keep it casual.

And being a startup ain’t always a bad thing for ERGs. You might experience:

  • Lower lift to petition for and request funding
  • Less red tape to approve programming and events
  • More face-time with management to get buy-in and resources
  • A higher company percentage engaged in ERG culture (recruiters will love this for marketing materials!)
  • Streamlined decision-making and quicker ERG-wide movement
  • Small usually means DIY (love a DIY project)

The advice within this guide don’t have to be actioned all at once. These ideas can be activated gradually as your company evolves, to ensure sustainable growth. Once your group gets past a dozen members, it may also be helpful to divide into committees and working groups to get things done. Ya know, typical get-shit-done stuff.

How to Get Started if You Work in HR

  • Advocate for digital visibility

    On the website Start this first, probably takes the longest. Connect with UX / Frontend / Comms to get ERGs (including co-lead pictures, brief testimonials, and event pictures) listed under the Diversity / Inclusion page. This will support company efforts to attract diverse talent, making a clear business case for ERGs.

    On All-Staff comms E-intro ERG co-leads to Internal Comms to get a prominent D&I column in the regular All-Staff newsletter. Advocate for them to have higher visibility.

    💡 Q-Tip: Getting company leadership to send comms on your behalf often yields higher engagement.

  • Incorporate D&I into your company’s values and mission

    Start this second, if not already completed. Beyond keeping your company relevant in the Culture-First decade, this ties in nicely with the rationale behind growing ERGs at your org.

  • Advocate for ERG leaders to interview candidates

    Millennials are the most diverse generation in history, with 86% prioritizing Diversity and “Quality of Life” in their decision to join a company. Organizing diverse hiring panels that include ERG leaders provides an important perspective on diversity and quality of life at a company. It also situates ERG leaders as important company stakeholders, with clear business and cultural value.

  • Incorporate an ERG slide into your new hire orientation deck

    Let the people know! And do it early on, so they’re aware of the possibilities. Include direct contact info, Slack channels, etc.

  • Include ERG Co-Leads in onboarding processes

    When possible, invite ERG leaders to present and meet new hires, to develop in person connections (retention starts on Day One). Introducing early on gives employees a chance to make new friends, leading to higher retention.

  • Integrate this guide into your HR resource library

    A little knowledge management goes a long way. Whether it’s a company shared drive, intranet page, or Good Reads bookshelf, make this guide universally available for employees (one of the perks of your Qorporate membership, ya welcome).

  • Designate someone as the Official ERG Kween

    Make it known who employees should talk to to get an ERG going. Knowing that there’s a main point of contact for all things ERG demystifies the process, streamlines internal communication, and allows for a knowledge base that can reside with one person and their designee(s).

    💡 Q-Tip: With their permission, designate colleagues in Comms and Facilities for ERG leads to direct questions that you’re unable to answer. This empowers ERG leaders.

  • Encourage ERGs leaders to step into leadership roles

    Inform the ERG leaders that they will get out what they put in to this work. Sending out regular communications, organizing regular meetings, and hosting events (yes, even during times of limited bandwidth) will produce meaningful outcomes, including their own professional development. Their professional growth is dependent on their grit to keep things up, with your active support and encouragement.

    💡 Q-tip: HR Studies show an employee typically makes their decision to stick with a company within their first 6 months. Try integrating ERGs into onboarding, when employee enthusiasm is highest, to capitalize on that window.

Working with diversity + inclusion councils

  • Depending on the size and maturity of your organization, there might be an existing D&I Council. Approaching them in a similar fashion to your HR outreach could be useful. Offer to take someone for coffee and seek to understand their objectives and organizing principles. Chances are, they’ll be interested in your work, too.

    If there isn’t any company-wide council of leaders working on behalf of historically underestimated groups in tech (e.g., women, people of color, disabled, veterans), then you might consider forming one. Could be as simple as a quarterly sync to share ideas and calendars.

    💡 Q-Tip: To facilitate interconnectivity, unify ERGs under an umbrella email alias and forward all ERG programming to all ERG leads and members.