Ian Dodds Consulting Change Font size:

Apr 2010 Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice
Unleashing the performance gain potential of Employee Network Groups
Newmarkets andproducts, collaborationandinnovationare increasingly the name of the game and Employee Network Groups ENGs (sometimes called Employee Resource Groups, ERGs) can play a big part in enhancing organisational capability to deliver on all of these strategic priorities. I was privileged recently to be a speaker on this topic at the European Union World Diversity Leadership Summit (EU-WDLS) and this Best Practice shares the key points of my presentation:
1.      I believe we are moving from two decades of an emphasis on Transactional Leadership dedicated to performance management to an era where the emphasis will be on Transformational Leadership. This is evidenced by a resurgence in interest in employee engagement which requires a vision of future success and long-term strategic action to engage and empower the workforce to deliver it. Of course, alignment through performance management will still be a necessary adjunct.
2.      ENGs provide an effective engagement route and their role, in consequence, is expanding. Initially they formed to offer a voice for a particular identity group, e.g. women, ethnic minorities, LGBs, disabled staff. They were seen by their employers, amongst other things, as vehicles for increasing the representation of non-traditional groups in management. However, they now encompass not only ENGs around identity; but also affiliation interests, e.g. safety, product development, fixing global implementation issues. Contemporary technology makes the ready formation of both identity and affiliation ENGs feasible through the medium of virtual networking.
3.      ENGs face challenges: maintaining the energy as they grow beyond the core founder group; technological advances which enable the globalisation of ENGs; engaging themselves effectively in delivering business success; negotiating budgets and demonstrating value against these.
4.      Good practices which help to overcome the challenges are:
a.      Having a senior sponsor offering empowering oversight.
b.      Being linked to a Council which oversees D&I or safety or product development, etc.
c.       The ENG formulating its own vision of success.
d.      Having short, i.e. quick wins, and long term strategic goals.
e.      Membership being inclusive by being open to all.
f.        Linking with other ENGs to develop best practices and see where there are cross-over opportunities.
g.      Training the ENG leaders in: finding experts; engaging volunteers in activities; growing membership; working with other ENGs and external bodies, etc.
5.      The following shifts are apparent:
-      The growth of affiliate ENGs delivering creative solutions to problems which bridge functional gaps, e.g. addressing broken business processes;
-      Identity ENGs being formed not just from the seven diversity strands; but also from groups such as parents and carers
-      The increasing focus with helping with real business problems;
-      The globalisation of ENGs;
-      Identity groups being open to all and encouraging the involvement of allies, e.g. LGB ENGs have been at the forefront by inviting attendance from straight friends;
-      The increasing connection with external networks;
-      The use of virtual networking platforms, e.g. Second Life.
IDC has considerable experience of ENG creation, operation and management so that we can help clients ensure that their ENGs are a success.
Dr Ian Dodds

26 Mar 2010

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