This ERG ain’t gonna run itself — lots of stakeholders chipping in their budget, sweat, and tears. Use this section as a jumping off point to talk about roles + responsibilities with your teammates.

ERG Member

ERG Leader

Executive Sponsor


Diversity & inclusion


ERG Member

  • Is the experience of participating in an ERG meaningful, educational, and joyous?

    Employee groups, first and foremost, should be about the employee. Think about it from a user-centered design perspective — if the experience of joining an employee group at your company is lackluster, it’ll be hard to inspire others to do the same. It’s all about the value proposition.

    Is anyone seeking to understand why members of an LGBTQ+ employee group join in the first place? Having that data will equip ERG leaders with a contextualized understanding of their culture, their company, and the needs of those whom they’re looking to serve.

  • Do folks feel like they belong at work? Or do people feel invisible to their cis-gender, straight, or hetero-normative peers? Remember, simply identifying as LGBTQ+ does not necessarily guarantee that a person understands even basic concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


    Is there an interest to educate and mobilize allies in service of their personal and professional development, and the broader company culture? Requiring mandatory unconscious bias training isn’t the same as actively bridging new connections between previously disparate employees.

  • Might members wish to engage externally with partner organizations in service of the greater community of underestimated techies?


    Are service opportunities available with paid time off and donations? In a 2013 study from UnitedHealth Group, 81% agreed that volunteering together strengthens relationships among colleagues.


ERG Leader

  • Is the experience of leading an ERG developmental and empowering?

    The thing with founding ERGs is that electing leaders can be fraught with office politics or favor-trading. To avoid this sketchy situation, aim to establish criteria for what qualities are most desirable in an ERG leader.

    Example criteria:

    Has demonstrated LGBTQ+ community involvement in recent years, through volunteering, organizing, or advocacy

    Has a compelling reason for wishing to lead this ERG (the particular reason isn’t super important, it’s that they have one they can articulate)

    Has ideas for programming that address a need, and thoughts about how to execute

    What if ERG members ask HR or company leadership to choose a leader? In the spirit of self-determination, you might consider that ERG members know what profile will best serve their needs. Empower them to make this decision themselves.


  • Put out a call for nominees and applicants to become an ERG Leader. It might look like this:

    Subject Line: Are you our LGBTQ+ leader?

    Hello {{Company Name}}!

    {{Cute photo of your ERG founders}}

    Our LGBTQ employee resource group is seeking two co-leads to lead our ERG to greatness in FY {{Year-to-Year span}}.

    Our next leader is excited to: – Spearhead {{frequency}} {{ERG name}} meetings – Organize ___ LGBTQ+ themed events annually, including: {{FUN event examples}} – Amplify LGBTQ+ voices and represent LGBTQ+ community interests here at {{Company name}} to leadership, candidates, and the company-at-large

    Fine Print: This role requires no more than 4 hours of work a week, including meeting facilitation, delegating tasks, and staffing mixers and company-wide events.

    If you’re interested, please answer these quick survey questions by {{Deadline}} at {{Time}}, or nominate someone here: {{Leader Nomination link}}.

    If you’ve been looking for a chance to build community, strengthen culture, and demonstrate leadership, this could be a great fit. {{Your Name}}

  • Q-Tip:

    Agree on what attributes you’re seeking in a leader before reviewing applications to mitigate these 12 unconscious biases.

Executive Sponsor

  • Is the experience of guiding an ERG challenging and fulfilling, or merely symbolic?

    What even is an executive sponsor? An executive sponsor is kinda like your cool teenage babysitter. Or the superhero mom who prepared Bagel Bites for your playdates. Each had a depth of experience from which you could benefit, and was willing to share advice AND give you high-level cover to eat frozen pizza.



  • An executive sponsor is an executive-level employee who:

    ● Shows up to meetings / events, as requested

    Advises on strategy for special projects and events

    Uses clout to obtain resources for the group

    Champions budgetary needs to the deciders

    Sends out comms to increase engagement

    Helps push through blockers, e.g.

    —-> The hard-to-get common space for our screening of [insert iconic queer content here]

    —-> That extra $200 to get rainbow streamers for the Pride event


  • A strong executive champion will refrain from:

    Using the ERG to champion their own causes or professional interests

    Make unilateral decisions without consultation with ERG leaders

    Steer all meetings, projects, and events

  • So how does one recruit this executive unicorn?

    Executive sponsors are there to ensure the success of the ERG. It’s a role that requires commitment, humility, and selflessness even during times of market volatility, an imminent IPO, or stagnant user growth.

    For the right person, it’s a chance to walk the talk, and do something that should be seen as part of (not competing with) their responsibilities as an executive — to develop others and promote retention of all employees, especially those from historically underestimated groups.


    💡Q-tip: How do you choose an executive sponsor? Don’t automatically give it to the highest-ranking out executive. Ask folks if they’re willing to actively support and why.


  • Example criteria:

    ● Executives who’ve subscribed to the ERG’s mailing list

    ● Evidence of past LGBTQ+ advocacy work or vocal support

    ● Verbally expressed interest and enthusiasm for the role (vs. being “volunt-told” they must)


  • Get in touch with comms to put out a Call For Applicants. It might look something like this:

    – Subject: Care About {{ERG Mission / Values Synopsis}}?

    Hello {{Company name}} Executive Team,

    {{A cute photo of you and your ERG founders}}

    We are {{ERG name}}, the {{ERG description}} striving to {{ERG mission}}. And we’re looking for an executive sponsor to champion ERG events and budget requests to management AND provide advice and signal-boosting of {{ERG name}} initiatives company-wide.

    Here’s how serving as an executive sponsor helps our organization:

    – Amplifies employee engagement, [retention]( and productivity
    – Raises diversity visibility, which [promotes company applicant engagement](
    – ERGs are correlated with [higher business outcomes](

    If you’re interested, we’d love to connect to chat further! Happy to answer any questions.

    {{Your Name}}


  • 💡Q-Tip:

    A little woo never hurt anyone in courting possible executive sponsors. It’s okay to touch on exec-friendly talking points (PR/marketing; business case for belonging). It’s also a great way for them to keep their finger on the pulse of the business and the team.


  • While ERGs should be more than just checking a box, we know there's real value from a talent acquisition perspective in being able to highlight a company's commitment to equity and inclusion — we celebrate that!

    Partner with ERG leaders, D&I leaders (if applicable), and Comms folks to include ERG info on the careers page, D&I report, and other marketing collateral.

  • Your messaging to job candidates could include language like this (h/t Out in Tech):

    “Our culture attracts those with a commitment to and demonstrated passion for intersectional approaches to social justice, diversity, and equity. We strongly encourage gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender queer, people of color, transgender people, and women to apply. You can bring your whole self to work (or not, when taking advantage of our flexible work schedule).

    Out in Tech takes diversity and equal opportunity seriously. We seek to build an inclusive team that reflects the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community because we know that will enable us to do our best work.”


  • Discussing the LGBTQ+ ERG with candidates?

    Having a depth of understanding will go a long way in demonstrating an authentic commitment to hiring people of all sexual orientations and gender identities at your organization.


    Bite-sized Mission Statement (when they ask, it’s nice to talk about more than the parade):

    “{{ERG name}} is a community for LGBTQ+ employees, allies and admirers to socialize, celebrate queer culture, and organize inspiring and fun LGBTQ+ events.

    Examples of programming:

    We recommend highlighting a diversity of programming to reach people at various levels of engagement. For example:

    ● Lunch socials

    ● Film screenings

    ● Lunchtime game shows

    ● Fireside chats

    ● Performances from queer and trans folks (art, music, literature, photography, drag)

    ● LGBTQ+ advocate speaker series

    ● Mentor with Out in Tech’s youth mentorship program


Diversity & inclusion

  • Do you work in diversity and inclusion as your full-time role? There's a lot we could say here, but if we were in your shoes, we'd seek to understand the needs of employees, business units, recruiters, and the executive team and then devote time to thinking about:

  • ● The strategy – are things constantly brought to your attention from employee leaders, your CEO, and talent acquisition folks? Do you feel like you’re constantly putting out little fires? Think about how much of your work is forward-moving, aligned to a plan for the year vs. reactive, and aligned to the particular needs of disparate stakeholders.

    ● The data – what are you already collecting as a company? What do you want to start collecting? Everything from employee demographics to employee satisfaction to qualitative feedback during orientation and exit interviews.

    ● The people – who are your most knowledgeable, most impassioned, most reliable folks when it comes to championing diversity, equity, and inclusion work? Establish relationships, nurture them, and aim to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations — it’s an indicator that you’re moving the needle towards a healthy culture.

    ● The terminology – confused about what terms to use? Hint: at times, we all are! GLAAD updates this guide frequently as language (and all languages) is constantly evolving.


  • Allyship is active, and welcoming allies into the LGBTQ+ ERG can foster a culture of belonging by shedding light on the lived experience of queer and trans people. Good intentions are a great start, but not the entire story, when it comes to social justice. One may have to do research, reprogram one's own preconceived notions, and yes — be open to vulnerable or uncomfortable conversations.

  • The Don'ts

    ● Do not expect to be taught or shown. Take it upon yourself to use the tools around you to learn and answer your questions

    ● Do not participate for the gold medal in the Oppression Olympics

    ● Do not behave as though you know best

    ● Do not take credit for the labor of those who are marginalized and did the work before you stepped into the picture

    ● Do not assume that every member of a marginalized group feels oppressed


  • The Do's

    ● Do be open to listening

    ● Do be aware of your implicit biases

    ● Do your research to learn more about the history of the struggle in which you are participating

    ● Do the inner work to figure out a way to acknowledge how you participate in oppressive systems

    ● Do the outer work and figure out how to change the oppressive systems

    ● Do amplify (online and when physically present) the voices of those without your privilege


  • Resources on LGBTQ+ allyship:

    Here’s what a good LGBTQ ally looks like

    10 ways to be an ally (GLAAD)

    Glossary of Terms (from