written by
Michele Heyward

Black ERGs & Their Role In Interrupting Racism

DiversityandInclusion Anti-racism 3 min read
“It is time for corporate America to own racism and bring a cultural change to build anti-racist companies that hire & promote employees on talent and not COLOR!”

The America of today has seen a shift like no other. There is a long, long way to go, but people are raising voice against racism. Black Americans have had enough. They are done with racism, hatred, negativity, and the loss of lives, fair chances & opportunities. They are trying to voice their opinions and demands loud and clear, especially in their workplaces. Aiding, helping, and backing all the employees are the Employee Resource Groups who have been fighting for this change for years.

Let’s discuss in-depth today that how ERGs play a significant role in fighting racism in the changing corporate America of today:

A Safe Space For All

The Black Employee Resource Groups are built on the idea of Enough is Enough. Look at us, and listen to what we have to say! The black employees need equal rights, equal space to speak up, equal access to mentors & resources, equal hiring ratio, equal chances to promote, and so on. When the executives fail to create that space, the ERGs are the ones who provide the employees with a place to share their grievances, struggles, problems and work together to find solutions and to advocate for them.

Fighting racism isn’t an easy task. Neither is it a one-person job and nor is it a change that can be brought in one day only. Hence, a lot of the times, black employees fearing for their job security do not raise their voices alone. The ERGs not only provide them with the safe space to converse their problems but join the forces to come up with the solutions to fight for as well.

Holding Conversations

Employee Resource Groups work together, gather support, raise issues faced, and point out barriers that are hindering the progress of black employees. These groups do the max in their capacity to ensure they are not only raising their voice but forcing the C-suite and the management to hear it as well. But there is only so far, they can go with it. This is where the need to hold safe spaces for conversations and dialogues comes in. Just talking about it won’t interrupt racism, but it plays a major factor in laying the foundation for the issues that need to be addressed.

This is why it is the responsibility of ERGs to initiate these conversations because the clear pathway to the progress of black employees and how can they fight for it lie somewhere within these open and honest conversations.

Leading The C-Suite!

In recent times, especially for organizations that are honestly trying to be anti-racist, ERGs have played a vital role in leading the C-suite to be the driver of that change. These groups harness their power to promote inclusivity in the workplace by designing actionable steps to fight racism and take them to the C-suite as well. ERGs are the access points or let’s say a bridge that connects C-suite and executives with the problems of the lower-level employees.

ERGs tactically work to ensure that they are educating the C-suite of the problems that exist within their organization. They are the ones who can constantly push them to make sure attention is being paid to the issues at hand. Though the responsibility of an ERG is to convey, the bigger responsibility falls on the shoulders of the corporate bigwigs to ensure they aren’t only listening but learning and saying yes to the change required.

Encouraging Executive Sponsors

The senior leaders of the organization are Executive Sponsors who are generally White. It is due to the efforts of ERGs that a member of senior management takes on this role so they can see what’s happening below them and fuel the real change. ERGs can’t solve racism problems; they can only fuel the solution because it must be driven from the top. This is where they play an essential role in all the organizations, they exist in.

The ERGs provide directives to the sponsors on taking the anti-racist workplace measures. Among other things, it also the responsibility of these resource groups to advocate for the normalization of people of color in the boardrooms and higher-ups. If racism is to be interrupted, then the opportunities and the places on the table should be equal for all. Who better than ERGs to collectively raise voice for it?

“Employee Resource Groups are already doing more than what’s required of them. A full-time job, oppressive work environment, and hustling to bring a change yet they are the real motivators, pushers, and the drivers of change black people need in American workplaces today!”
Workplace DEI Inclusive Diversity and Inclusion Workplace Culture