What is an Employee Resource group?
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve.
They are usually led and participated in by employees who share a characteristic, whether it is gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle, or interest. The groups exist to provide support and help in personal or career development and to create a safe space where employees can bring their whole selves to the table. Allies may also be invited to join the ERG to support their colleagues.
A Jewish ERG would serve as the company’s hub for Jewish employee gathering, but also to help the organization stay aware of Jewish holiday calendars, issues of bias or discrimination stemming from antisemitism, and learning opportunities for employees.
Role of the ERG
- Educates by conducting programs for all employees as well as clients, including programming, prominent speakers, and webinars with allies
- Serves as a resource for vetting holiday cards and questions employees may have about all things Jewish.
- Serves as an information resource for conferences, articles and activities that foster its mission to combat antisemitism.
- Offers a forum for networking and regular communication on topics of common interest
- Provides integrated structure to combat antisemitism
- Raises awareness and opposes the normalization of antisemitism
- Fosters allyship
- Protects and supports Jewish employees
Tasks of the ERG
A Jewish ERG should operate within the parameters set out for other ERG’s within the company or organization. Many ERG’s do the following:
- Holds virtual quarterly meetings of all members to share ideas, activities and goals.
- Creates a three-year calendar of Jewish holidays to help colleagues avoid scheduling training, retreats, and company-wide meetings on major holidays and Shabbat.
- Collaborates with allies to condemn antisemitism (e.g., a joint statement with the Black inclusion group regarding antisemitic incidents)
- Celebrates Jewish holidays, providing explanations as well as representative food (apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah, matzoh for Passover, and sufganyiot (doughnuts) for Hanukkah).
- Membership provides check-ins from localities where antisemitic incidents have occurred (e.g., the head of security would be able to check in with our ERG colleagues after a crisis).
- Information about the ERG could be included in all DEI recruiting materials provided to all potential and new joiners of the organization.
- Joins other Jewish organizational initiatives.
How to Create and Structure an ERG
- The ERG is usually under the firm’s DEI or HR umbrella.
- 3-5 core members own the work and organization of the group.
- Core group of colleagues should approach the company’s leader tasked with DEI or Inclusion work (if no such office exists, contact the Chief of Staff or head of HR) to inform them you would like to form a Jewish ERG. Company leadership should be asked to support the ERG’s formation, and a member of the company’s Senior Management Team typically serves as a liaison to the ERG.
- Explain the role of a Jewish ERG
- If the company is accommodating, schedule your first ERG meeting by inviting other employees to join as members of the group or as allies. Also invite the DEI person, or whomever in leadership has been supporting you organizing the ERG to attend your first meeting.
- Core members should reach out to colleagues at all levels to hold initial planning sessions and recruit volunteer liaisons from each office.
- The core group chooses the name, branding, and logo with input from the communications team, consistent with other DEI inclusion groups.
- At the first meeting, lay out the goals and tasks of the ERG. Coordinate who would like to tackle which parts of your mission.
- Establish a schedule of meetings and plan events to suit the needs of your colleagues.
- As needs or incidents arise, core membership can coordinate with leadership to discuss possible responses and recommendations.