Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be beneficial to businesses beyond improving employee morale and establishing a sense of community. Sodexo (DiversityInc Hall of Famer as No. 1 in 2013 and No. 8 on the 2019 Top Companies for Employee Resource Groups specialty list) director of market research Jonathan Preciado and Sanofi (No. 31 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) associate director of inclusion and diversity Chandni Patel discussed how ERGs also drive business and organizational impact for companies. Sodexo and Sanofi are at different places in their implementation of ERGs. Sodexo has offered ERGs for decades while Sanofi just officially implemented them in 2017 after they had been growing over the past 10 years. Preciado and Patel spoke to DiversityInc Chief of Staff Anita Ricketts and offered insights on the impact of ERGs at different stages of their establishment process.
Preciado said because Sodexo is a national company and many employees work remotely, being members of ERGs helps employees network with one another and establish an office-life rapport. For Sanofi, a French-based company, U.S. branches are still working to root themselves in North America, but Patel said so far, ERGs have allowed employees to develop new skills that are possibly beneficial to their primary positions in a safe, supportive space. They leverage talent by allowing members to take leadership roles.
“The way that we talk about ERG leadership positions within the company are, one, it’s a really great place to hone existing skills,” Patel said. “If you’re in finance or you’re in marketing and you want to get to know skills outside of your particular business unit or function but still within your same scope, that’s a really great way to get some more breadth of experience. Second, it’s a way for you to develop new skills that you don’t have in a safe space.”