Are Employee Resource Groups Passé?

This is a special episode of the podcast because I want to explore the views of people who don’t agree with employee resource groups. Specifically I want to discuss the recent decision by professional services firm Deloitte to phase out their employee resource groups as part of their efforts to become more inclusive.

I normally avoid discussing news stories in the podcast, I tend to use my social media channels to address. The reason for this is given at the beginning of every episode. I’m here to connect the dots in terms of best practices, habits and other important pieces of information that you can apply in your organisation. That said, this is the Resource Groups Podcast and a high profile international organisation with employee resource groups has made a decision to stop using them.

Superficially, some may argue that this undermines the case for employee resource groups as part of a diversity and inclusion strategy in an organisation.

In todays show I’m going to discuss several things including

  • Deloitte’s recent decision to phase out employee resource groups
  • The reason’s why this may approach may be suitable for them but not others
  • The opportunity available to all organisations in crafting their own Diversity & Inclusion Strategy and much much more.

Here’s some of what I share in the show:

Poorly conceived Employee Resource Groups can be exclusive

A common criticism of employee resource groups are that they are exclusive, in the sense that they seem to exclude people who do not share a particular demographic profile. I explain how this can undermine an organisation’s inclusion strategy:

“A vehicle intended for inclusion, but actually they look like a mechanism for exclusion”

Employee Resource Groups should be inclusive by definition

Employee resource groups should be able to engage individuals that are outside of their membership, this should be a primary purpose of the group. I discuss how the definition of an employee influences this:

“I define employee resource groups as voluntary groups of employees within an organisation based around a social identity, shared interests or values. I used this definition in my PhD and its taken from the academic literature. It’s a useful definition because it is inclusive, it allows the type of inclusive membership that Deloitte are seeking in their organisation”

The Opportunity for Organisations moving forward

Despite any opinions about Deloitte’s decision about their employee resource groups. Their decision is indicative of an organisation that is examining what it believes will benefit their long term interests.

“There is no one size fits all and organisations need to tailor their diversity and inclusion strategies, to their particular circumstances. The good news is, it’s clear that Deloitte are trying to do that”

Show notes

Here are some selected links to for the resources and reports I discuss in the episode.

Deloitte Thinks Diversity Groups Are Passé

Deloitte’s Radical Attempt to Reframe Diversity

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