Did you know that as of 2011, nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs? ERGs are employee resource groups, which are voluntary, employee-led groups focused around members’ shared interests. Many ERGs form around a shared heritage, cultural identity or gender. Other ERGs form around a shared focus on volunteer, fitness or other community activities. These groups offer a forum for professional development, mentorship and employee engagement, as well as a community for support and collaboration.
SWE is committed to collaborating with ERGs as part of a strategic goal within Advocacy to “develop robust plans and recommendations for sections to work with employee networking, affinity or resource groups.” To that end, the SWE Membership Committee formed a sub-team this year to focus on understanding, demonstrating and showcasing the relationships between ERGs and SWE. It was determined that both ERGs and SWE could benefit from working together, with potential for collaboration on event planning, participation in outreach, professional development events or even sharing speakers. “It’s time we moved from seeing ERGs as competition to SWE and instead work to collaborate with them,” said SWE’s Director of Membership Initiatives Jonna Gerken. “Our members can only benefit from increased cooperation between local sections/MALs and corporate ERGs. We all have the same mission-to increase the recruitment and retention of women in STEM careers.”
One of the initiatives the sub-team is working on is developing a region award for a section that boasts a successful partnership between an ERG and SWE, so we’ll be looking to you to share your ERG stories with us. Be sure to stay tuned for more information about SWE & ERGs, including stories from SWE members and suggestions for collaborations. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #SWEmyERG to share your ERG experience on Social Media. We’ll be looking for posts to highlight throughout the remainder of 2015. (And don’t forget to tag @SWEtalk, too!)