Six top tips for kickstarting meetings + events, and a boatload of ideas.

Getting things off the ground

  • 1. Set an ideal, accessible meeting time

    Lunch and communal free time is typically the best time to hold meetings (approx. 11:30am-1:30pm, depending on the company). But here are some other tips to maximize attendance:

    ● Make meetings videoconference-accessible to include remote employees. (Doesn’t this seem so much more obvious after COVID-19?)

    ● Thursday lunches, after-work events and happy hours are great days for events. Why? Well, it’s almost the end of the week, and many folks take Fridays off. Wouldn’t you attend a Thursday happy hour, too?

    ● Standing First Fridays! If your group establishes a passion for certain types of events early on, honor that by making it a standing meeting/event. For example, Affirm’s Black@ agreed on the importance of Oakland-based events, supporting it’s 20% historically Black community, so they made Oakland’s First Fridays Art Walk event a regular thing.

  • 2. Venue

    Think: Accessible and easy-breezy

    Onsite: For as little hassle as possible, think easy communal spaces. Cafeterias, annexes, kitchens, pantries and common rooms are excellent meeting spots, easy to find, and most importantly — they have snacks!

    Offsite: Here’s a wild idea: Go to an Out in Tech event, as a group! (Sign up here) to get notified about events happening near you). But ahem in the extraordinary off-chance there isn’t a fun-filled Out in Tech event happening, we recommend finding a venue that is easily accessible and close to work. For example, a bar or cafe around the corner from the office.

    Bigger, Better Venues: But wait! There’s this really cool lesbian bar called Jolene’s that everyone loves going to. Only thing is- it’s 5 miles away! Should we meet there?!

    If it’s that cool, then go for it! Our only recommendation is:

    ● Make sure the majority of folks are excited about it, not just the 2/15 members who’ve been there before.

    ● Make sure it’s worth the trip. Plan it on a happening night, to maximize the experience.

    ● Make sure it’s scheduled well in advance, so people have it to look forward to, and can plan around it.

  • 3. Start small

    First impressions count. The first couple of events and meetings will dictate a member’s continued involvement. Keep the first meetings light and fun.

    They should focus on:

    ● Getting to know one another: ****Who are we? What brought us here?

    ● What events do we want to action on?

    ● Building consensus / voting on events

    💡 Q – Tip: Every office culture is different, but lunchtime meetings often maximize participation, especially if meals are provided at your company.


  • 4. Low cadence is okay

    One gathering a month is a great start. More or less is okay, too. Whatever feels right to keep people feeling like they’re part of something real.

    For example, Affirm’s Black@ group has a once-a-month official meeting, with an agenda. They also have standing bi-weekly casuals, when members eat lunch together.

    This is a great way to simultaneously team build, and plan for your world takeover!

  • 5. Gather feedback to continuously improve and evolve

    As your group gains momentum and enthusiasm, continually check in to see if they want to try organizing more frequent meetings, and/or bigger events.

    Survey ERG members and the company-at-large after events for feedback and to determine how to adjust your programming. This increases buy-in, and ensures you’re meeting needs.

    Example Survey Questions:

    ● How would you rate this past event?

    ● Would you recommend this event to a colleague?

    ● What did you enjoy most about the event? (multiple choice + short answer box)

    ● What could we improve on or do differently next time? (multiple choice + short answer)

    ● What types of events would you like to see more of? (Select all that apply)

    ● Fun events

    ● Educational events

    ● Panels

    ● Communal Meals

    ● Any further comments? (short answer box)

    💡 Q-Tip: Increasing opportunities for input and feedback increases ERG motivation and satisfaction. The best surveys are short, and require no more than 2-3 minutes of effort.


  • 6. Once things get cooking, try committees

    Folks are more likely to remain bought-in if they have a role unique to them. Creating Internal MarComms, Programming and Recruiting Committees spreads the lift across more bandwidth, and helps keep engagement up.


  • Here are some ideas for events, along with corresponding level of effort. We’ve also compiled some spirited email templates so you can quickly go forth and let the world know.

  • Onsite company-wide event (high lift)

    Speaker Series / Fireside Chats: Invite prominent community members or advocates to speak on an ERG-relevant topic.

    We put this event-type front and center, because they’re primo opportunities to recruit queer/trans folks! Invite the public, and promote far and wide. Heck, invite us too! We bet you’ll be blown away by the positive reception.

  • Tips on reaching out to speakers

    When you reach out to speakers, make your messaging three things:

    ● Charming and flattering – butter them biscuits by explaining why you want them!

    ● Emphasize what they get out of it.

    ● Specific — proactively answer some questions they’ll have, like:

    ● Who are you? What is your company background?

    ● What is the name and purpose of this event?

    ● What date and time is this event?

    ● Where is this event?

    ● Will I be the only speaker? Who else will be there, and who will be moderating?

    ● For how long will I be speaking?

    ● To whom will I be speaking, and how many people?What is the compensation?

    ● Are there other perks, such as networking opportunities?\

    ● When should I get back to you about my decision?

  • Speaker outreach template:

    Subject Line: Kate, We’re big fans!

    Hi Kate,

    I am reaching out to you on behalf of BLACK@Affirm, the employee resource group (ERG) here at Affirm Inc. for members of the Black community and African diaspora (as well as their allies) to engage, connect, inspire, and recruit.

    In honor of Black History Month, we’re hosting an ERG Leadership Panel, and I’m reaching out to see if you are available to participate.

    This will take place on Thursday, February 13th at 4pm at our office in San Francisco for the employees of Affirm (~200 attendees), no more than a 90 minute commitment (panel comprised of Janelle Monae, SZA, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and yourself, with myself moderating).

    Questions would be sent in advance.

    There will be drinks, food, and ample networking opportunities, and we would love for you to come! Please let me know if you’re interested in participating in this by {{January 13th}}.

    Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Marsha Nunes

  • The speaker experience

    To make sure they have the best possible experience, make sure to:

    ● Provide a detailed event agenda in advance, including contact info and where to meet whom in the lobby when they arrive

    ● Provide the questions you’re planning to ask ahead of time

    ● Ask about dietary requirements and access considerations

    Example Event Confirmation Email Template:

    Arrival: Please arrive by 3:40pm on Thursday, 6/20; meet Tom in lobby

    Tom M kicks off panel

    Discuss context and quick personal story (connecting w/ Kate during early 2000’s as news director of PlanetOut)

  • Questions for Kate:

    ● (Intro/personal story before discussing SCOTUS case): How did you come into this field of work, and what continues to motivate you in advocating for LGBTQ rights?

    ● Lawsuit(s) – background: How did we get here? Is this case the legacy of ENDA legislation failures over the past 12 or so years?

    ● What should we know about the specific lawsuit(s) at the heart of this SCOTUS case?

    ● What is at stake in the event that the Supreme Court rejects the LGBT protection in its ruling?

    ● Would this threaten at all the protections already in place in cities like SF, NYC, and Pittsburgh?

    ● Strategy: Anything you learned from the painstaking legal choreography leading up to the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court? Has anything like that been at work here behind the s● enes?

    ● Amicus briefs: Are they coming and is there anything we should watch for about them?

    ● What significance, if any, does this case have for your role with Pack the Courts?

    ● What, if anything, can we concerned citizens do to prepare for this or influence the national conversation around this case?

    ● [Any other questions/issues I should touch on that I am missing?]

    ● Audience Q&A – are you okay with that?

    💡 Q-Tip: The best way is through a warm intro. Try to find someone with a connection to your target speaker, and have them reach out to make the ask or connect you.

  • Tips for Maximizing Engagement on Speaker Series

    ● Make engagement easy: Everyone’s busy. We know this. Make it as easy as possible for employees to attend your events by timing them during communal meal hours, or in the same space directly following all-staff events.

    ● People should be able to take something away from it: Survey the community for what they’d like to know, and find folks who meet this need. Focusing on what’s current or emerging will add shine to your programming.

    ● Find speaker who employees will be excited to network with, or who provide alignment to the work at your company

    💡 Q-Tip: If you take photos at your events (and you def-o should), make sure to bring a clipboard with image releases for signature. That way, you can use photos in marketing.

  • Integrated socials (low lift)

    Opportunities for casual, in-office social gatherings. Meet by the crinkle-cut plant, bring your fav board game, deck of cards, knitting yarn, or Rubik’s cube.

  • ERG Lunches

    Consider having a standing time for members to eat lunch together. We find these kinds of socials are great opps to develop buy-in, before trying on bigger initiatives or out-of-office events. Sometimes ERGs focus exclusively on these, and that’s okay too.

    Example email template:

    Subject Line:

    {{Date}}- Join us for Lunch!

    Hello {{ERG name}} friends and allies!

    It’s second Thursday again! You know what that means… our LGBTQ ERG lunch kiki is happening today at {{Time}} at the {{Table}} the {{Location}}!

    Let’s catch up, decompress, and share some hot goss!

    There will be sugar-free twinkies (thanks to Audre). See you there!

    {{Your Name}}

    💡 Q-Tip: Try starting with low-lift programming to build momentum and rapport. Also, keep email or Slack invites for low-lift programming brief and light.

  • Study Halls

    Does your company have compliance trainings or feedback and development cycles? Make these more fun by grabbing a room and some snacks, playing music, and completing them together.


    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: Lumpia & F&D

    Hello {{ERG name}} fam,

    We know feedback and Development cycles can be a drag. That’s why we’ve booked a room to do it together!

    Stop by our LGBTQ F&D Study Hall this {{Day}} at {{Time}} at {{Floor / Room}}.

    Let’s listen to the new Ariana album, snack on Becky’s famous lumpia (oh yes, she made them again), and finish these bad boys off!

    See you there, {{Your Name}}

  • ERG member birthdays

    Compile a list of member birthdays, so the group can give surprise folks with signed cards and treats!

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: Happy Birthday, Tessa!

    Hello hello hello, {{ERG name}}!

    {{A GIF Tessa would adore}}

    Please send your finest GIFs… because it’s Tessa Thompson’s birthday! Tessa, we loved your work in WestWorld and are so glad to have you on our {{ERG name}} Recruiting team.

    We’ll be working on {{Floor / Room / Common Area}} from {{Time Range}}. West World will be playing in the background, and there will be orange slices (To honor Tessa’s Whole30).

    Come say hi! {{Your Name}}

  • Snack Stations

    Bake some cookies, set up a station, and offer them up to coworkers.

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: Timely: Girl’s Scout Cookies at {{Location}}!

    Hi loves!

    We’ve brought Girl Scout cookies to {{Location}}!

    We know it’s a stressy time. So just wanted to spread some love. Come take a break from work, and say hi to your fave gay pals.

    Your friends, {{ERG Name}}

  • Spirit Days

    Wear the same color to work to draw attention or awareness to an event or cause.

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: Wear RED on {{Day}}!

    Hi friends!

    {{Picture of ERG Leads wearing red together}}

    Pride Month starts Monday! We wanted to raise awareness by showing our true colors.

    And that color is: RED.

    Please show us some LGBTQ ERG solidarity by wearing a red top, and come bring some LGBTQ+ ERG stickers to hand out, if you have extras!

    We’ll also be having a lunch social at our usual spot at {{Time}} at {{Table}} in the {{Lunch Room}}.

    Can’t wait to see you!


    {{ERG Name}}

  • Offsite Social (low-medium lift)

    Opportunities to hang with ERG members outside of work.

  • Happy Hours

    Head to a local bar after work for a quick drink.

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: {{Date}} Happy Hour is a go!

    Hi y’all!

    {{Picture of local queer bar}}

    Let’s grab a drink at {{Local Gay Bar}} this {{Day}} at {{Time}}.

    Marsha and I are meeting in the lobby at {{Time}} to head over.

    Let us know if you can make it by responding to this email. We don’t wanna leave without you!

    Can’t wait,

    {{Your Name}}

  • Museum Visits

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: Please RSVP Now to {{Date}} Museum Visit!

    Hi everyone,

    {{Picture of Museum}}

    A couple of you expressed interest in cultural outings, and a Museum visit was at the top of the list.

    We’ve organized an outing to the GLBT Historical Society Museum!

    {{Day, Date, Time}} {{Public Transportation Info}} {{Disability Access Info}}

    Please let us know if you can make it by RSVPing to this email!

    We hope to see you there.

    {{Your Name}}

  • Movie Screenings

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: It’s Movie time!

    Hi everyone,

    {{Picture of Movie Poster}}

    We’re screening Paris is Burning, the 1990 American documentary that chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it.

    {{Day, Date, Time}} {{Public Transportation Info}} {{Disability Access Info}}

    Remember last meeting when Cody kept saying “Touch this skin darling! You just can’t take it!” They were referencing Paris Is Burning.

    Let us know if you’re coming, so we know how much pizza to order!

    Thanksies! {{Your Name}}

  • Offsite Socials sometimes yield lower engagement, since some wish to keep work relationships at work. So if your field trip ideas don’t pan out, don’t be disappointed. Talk to your colleagues to figure out what works for them.

    💡 Q-Tip: Diversify your programming to prevent things from being too predictable. Keep things spicy by throwing different events into the mix!

  • Volunteering + community partnerships (medium-high lift)

    Opportunities to level up local communities, and/or support NPOs and community organizations.

  • Donating / Fundraising for an NPO

    Members can identify an organization to support or brainstorm ways to fundraise for specific orgs/causes.

    NPO Partnership Examples:

    ● Black ERG fundraised for Moms 4 Housing in Oakland, to fight eviction

    ● Latinx ERG volunteered with the Hidden Genius Project, to conduct interview workshops for young black men

    ● Veterans ERG volunteers onsite with Swords to Plowshare an organization connecting veterans for mutual aid and benefit

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: {{First Name}}, We’d like to help {{NPO Name}}!

    Hello {{NPO Contact name}},

    My name is {{Your Name}}, and I co-lead the {{ERG Name}} at {{Company Name}}, a {{1-sentence company intro}}.

    I’m reaching out because our {{# participants}}-member {{ERG Name}} members would like to boost your {{Fundraiser / Cause}} by {{volunteering our time / fundraising and donating this specific amount}}.

    Would you be amenable to a short, informal chat, to strategize on deliverables, deadlines, and best ways to plug in?

    {{Co-lead}} and I are available at {{potential time slots}} to chat, if you are!

    Let us know, and looking forward to collaborating.

    Warm regards,

    {{Your Name}}, {{Co-lead Name}} {{ERG Name}}, {{Company Name}}

  • Host an office tour

    Invite youth to see the office, have lunch, and talk about careers in tech.

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: Your Students @ {{Company Name}}?

    Hello {{NPO Contact name}},

    My name is {{Your Name}}, and I co-lead the {{ERG Name}} at {{Company Name}}, a {{1-sentence Company intro}}.

    Our {{# participants}}-member {{ERG Name}} really admires your work {{NPO mission}}, and would love to support you by hosting up to {{#}} for an {{Expected Time Range}} office-tour.

    This would include a walk-through of our facilities, on-campus lunch, a resume lab and Q&A with our {{ERG member}} employees.

    We think this would be a great opportunity to for your students to make connections, ask questions about careers in tech, and see what a day in the life is like. If this sounds interesting to you, {{Co-lead}} and I would love to chat!

    Let us know some times that work for you, and we’d be glad to put something in the books.


    {{Your Name}}, {{Co-lead Name}} {{ERG Name}}, {{Company Name}}

  • Speak at a NPO, under-resourced school or after-school program

    Create a presentation or project-based learning curriculum on careers in tech for organizations serving youth from underestimated groups (see Code2040, Black Girls Code, and Code Nation).

    Template Alert:

    Subject Line: {{First Name}}, We’d like to help {{NPO Name}}!

    Hello {{NPO Contact name}},

    My name is {{Your Name}}. I co-lead the {{ERG Name}} at {{Company Name}}, a {{1-sentence Company intro}}.

    Our {{ERG Name}} is drawn to your org’s mission, especially it’s work {{Something specific / relevant to your ERG goal}}.

    We’re looking to give back to the community, and are wondering: are you at all open to hosting presenters/speakers/short project-based curriculums on {{Subject that would be of interest to them}}? If so, we’d love to organize a visit to connect with the kids!

    We’re open to presenting on any topic you/the kids feel would be enriching. Some example topics we can present on include… {{insert topics here}}.

  • 💡 Q-Tip: If you have employees who graduated from youth programs, reaching out to those organizations can be rewarding for the employee, NPO staff, and students alike!

    💡 HR Tip: Create, own and share a running spreadsheet of NPO partnerships forged, and speakers hosted, including contact info, dates of engagement, budget asked for/granted. This’ll help ERG leaders (especially new ones) determine what’s worked in the past.

A Note on Communications

  • TL;DR: Keep it short + not boring. It doesn’t take a Millennial to tell us how many media things are vying for our attention. Here are some pro-tips for writing emails that cut through the noise, and garner positive engagement:

  • Increase open rates w/ email subject lines

    ● Starting with their first name

    ● Flatter / complimenting the recipient

    ● Ask a question – this develops intrigue (just make sure to answer the question in email body)

    ● Open with unexpected info

    ● Break an existing pattern or use uncommon logic: “Cookies Fight LGBTQ Discrimination?”

  • Email Body - How to Make Content Stick (℅ the Heath Brothers)

    Make SUCCESSful content:

    ● Simple – Get to the point, and quickly

    ● Unexpected- Break an existing pattern

    ● Concrete- Use images, objects, and examples, build on existing schemas

    ● Credible Sources- When detailing why you’re doing something

    ● Emotional- Personal anecdotes grab attention / appeal to self-interest

    ● Stories- Are memorable!

    ● Using GIFs / Images

    ● Number and bullets instead of writing long block paragraphs