7 Critical Reasons ERGs Need (The Right) Software
Enterprise Client Partner and DEI Program Expert
Dec 8, 2023
There’s an ongoing debate within the DEI community over software. Some ERG practitioners, sometimes with good reason and occasionally with good intentions, actively promote the idea that additional software isn’t needed beyond your current tech stack. As long as you have internal communication software like Slack, employee engagement and experience software like Viva, and some Excel skills, you should be good to go…right? Not really.
ERGs are nearly ubiquitous in large companies. 100% of Fair360’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity have them, and most of those companies have thousands of employees eligible to join available ERGs. Large companies support ERGs because they drive change, create supportive culture-building spaces, and foster a stronger sense of community. The number of potential ERG participants alone makes managing these groups effectively using existing tools cumbersome, if not impossible, especially if you want your ERGs to be centered on effective data collection and analysis.
This blog post aims to explore the multifaceted needs of ERGs and how a dedicated software solution, beyond native platforms, can significantly enhance their impact.
The Conundrum of Existing Platforms
Some DEI leaders and advocates worry that taking employees out of native platforms to access an ERG management platform could be disruptive and reduce overall engagement with DEI programs. This concern is valid, as integration into daily workflows is crucial. For one, this is why Diverst’s ERG platform integrates with a litany of common tools ERG leads are already using to manage their groups.
However, the specialized needs of ERGs often extend beyond the functionalities of these general platforms.
Why ERGs Need Dedicated Software
Reflecting on my experiences as an ERG Lead, I realize the immense benefits that a specialized ERG platform could have offered. Here’s why:
When I was an ERG lead, we regularly struggled to get a budget. Without resources or templates, building a business case for events or development opportunities was a steep challenge. A dedicated ERG platform could provide these tools, guiding us in budget allocation and justification. Implementing automated budget templates and real-time tracking can streamline financial planning, enhancing transparency and aiding in securing necessary funding.
Tips for improving your ERG budget approach
Budget constraints are a common hurdle for ERGs. A dedicated software can help in the following ways:
- Automated Budget Templates: Implementing automated budget templates that are easily customizable can streamline the process of proposing and managing funds.
- Real-time Budget Tracking: The software can offer real-time tracking of expenditures and comparisons against allocated budgets, enhancing financial transparency and accountability.
Data is crucial for strategic decisions, yet it was our missing piece. Our meetings with the CEO, though filled with qualitative insights, lacked a quantitative approach. An ERG platform could help track critical data like membership growth, event attendance, and their impact on business outcomes, thereby informing more strategic discussions and decisions. Automated data collection and visualization tools can transform this raw data into actionable insights.
Tips on turning numbers into strategy
Data is the linchpin of strategic decision-making. ERG software can elevate this by:
- Automated Data Collection and Analysis: Implement features for automatic data gathering and analysis to provide insights on membership trends, event attendance, and impact on business outcomes.
- Data Visualization Tools: Use integrated tools to transform raw data into understandable and actionable visual formats, aiding in strategic presentations and discussions.
- Benchmarking and Reporting: Offer benchmarking against industry standards and internal goals, along with comprehensive reporting functionalities for informed decision-making.
Even with a clear idea of the necessary data, the manual analysis was daunting and time-consuming. Automation offered by a specialized platform would have saved us countless hours, allowing us to focus on creating impactful narratives and strategies. Task management features and calendar integration can further enhance productivity and efficiency.
Get back more time by maximizing efficiency through automation
Time management is crucial. Here’s how software can assist:
- Automated Reporting: Implement automated reporting tools to reduce the time spent on data compilation and analysis.
- Task Management Features: Integrate task management functionalities to streamline planning and execution processes, enhancing overall productivity.
- Calendar Integration: Offer seamless integration with existing calendars for efficient scheduling and time management.
As an ERG lead, I often found myself uncertain about whom to contact for event organization. A dynamic roster of active members, especially when reaching out to underrepresented groups (URGs), was missing. ERG software can centralize this information, making event planning and member engagement more streamlined. Centralized member databases and integrated communication channels can facilitate better coordination.
Streamline member management and event planning
Organizing events and managing members are key ERG tasks. Here’s how software can provide support:
- Centralized Member Database: Create a centralized, up-to-date database of members, including specific interests and skills, to facilitate targeted engagement.
- Event Management Tools: Implement comprehensive event management tools for planning, promoting, and tracking events.
- Internal Communication Channels: Establish dedicated communication channels within the software for more effective coordination and collaboration.
Identifying and engaging with allies, especially at executive levels, was a constant challenge. An ERG platform could provide insights into potential allies, fostering executive support and aiding in achieving cross-functional goals. Tools for ally identification and engagement tracking can help build a stronger support network.
Advice on identifying and engaging with advocates
Finding and engaging allies, especially at executive levels, is vital. Here’s how software can help:
- Ally Identification Tools: Incorporate tools to identify potential allies based on their involvement, interests, and positions within the organization.
- Engagement Tracking: Track the engagement level of allies and provide insights on how to effectively involve them in ERG initiatives.
- Networking Features: Facilitate networking opportunities within the software to foster connections between ERG members and allies.
Marketing ERG events to the entire company often felt intrusive. I longed for a more integrated, organic method, like a registration link in a company newsletter. ERG software offers this kind of seamless integration, enhancing event visibility without being overbearing. Targeted marketing tools and integrated communication platforms can revolutionize how events are promoted and perceived.
Action items to enhance outreach and participation
Effective engagement strategies are essential for ERG success. Here’s how software can improve this:
- Targeted Marketing Tools: Use targeted marketing tools within the software to reach the right audience for events and initiatives.
- Feedback and Survey Tools: Implement feedback mechanisms and surveys to gauge the interest and satisfaction levels of participants, guiding future strategies.
- Integrated Communication Platforms: Offer integrated platforms for announcements and registrations, making the process more user-friendly and efficient.
Our approach to recruitment was more reactive than proactive. Having a list of employees interested in joining ERGs or attending events would have been invaluable, especially for maintaining engagement outside of popular events. ERG software can facilitate this ongoing recruitment and engagement process. Automated outreach and onboarding resources can ensure a steady flow of interested and engaged members.
Implementing a proactive and tech-infused approach to recruitment
Shifting from reactive to proactive recruitment is key. Here’s how:
- Interest Tracking: Implement a system to track and record employees’ interests in joining ERGs or participating in events.
- Automated Outreach: Use automated outreach tools for inviting and engaging potential members, especially during non-peak times.
- Onboarding Resources: Provide resources and guidelines for new members to ensure a smooth and welcoming onboarding experience.
The Issue with ERG Software Isn’t “More Technology” but “The Right Technology”
While platforms like Slack and Viva offer broad functionalities, they fall short of addressing the specific needs of ERGs. From budgeting to data analysis, time management, support, allyship, engagement, and recruitment – dedicated ERG software can transform the way these groups operate. As businesses continue to emphasize DEI, it’s crucial to equip ERGs with the right tools, ensuring their efforts are impactful, efficient, and aligned with broader organizational goals.
An ERG that isn’t proving its value to executive leaders is an ERG that doesn’t last long. And that’s not god for anybody. The larger your organization, the stronger your need for automated software that reduces the burden on ERG leads, who are already busy enough and far too often unpaid.
Book a demo to learn more about how ERG software can make accelerate and support the biggest needs you have right now.