Mar 28, 2024 - Business

ERGs increasingly tapped by company leadership for communications guidance

Illustration of a pattern of briefcases in different skintones.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

When there's difficult, thorny or potentially polarizing news to share, executives are increasingly turning to employee resource groups (ERGs) for guidance.

Why it matters: ERGs were initially created to cultivate more inclusive work environments, but also to serve as key communications tools to assess employee sentiment and help shape internal messaging on social, cultural or geopolitical issues.

State of play: Since the pandemic, the term "ERG" has increased by roughly 500% in job postings across Indeed's site, and the share of organizations that pay ERG leaders rose from 6% in 2020 to 46% in 2022, according to reporting from Charter Works.

  • Global ERG co-chairs at LinkedIn, for example, serve two-year terms and will receive $10,000 at the end of each year of service, Axios' Hope King previously reported.
  • ERG leaders at Gem, Notion and Justworks also receive compensation for the time they spend supporting employee affinity groups.

Yes, but: 69% of ERGs had an employer-supplied budget in 2022, compared with 90% in 2020.

Zoom in: 80% of corporations are assigning executive sponsors to ERGs.

  • These executives empower the groups with direct lines to key leaders in their businesses, while also allowing them to spot potential employee pressure points, Gravity Research vice president Kendall Seketa tells Axios.
  • A majority of companies also proactively communicate with ERGs ahead of major societal issue moments, either to share resources, to consult for messaging, or to explain why a company will not weigh in on a particular issue.

Between the lines: Most companies have established ERGs for the LGBTQ community, plus for various racial and gender groups within their organizations.

  • However, few have religiously affiliated ERGs, which has impacted the way employers have communicated throughout the Israel-Hamas war.

What they're saying: ERG members are typically very engaged employees who are well-respected by colleagues and can make for influential internal spokespeople, says Seketa.

  • "Using something like an employee resource group to go direct to employees who might be impacted by an issue could both lessen some of the risk of exposure, but also help to still make sure that employees are feeling supported," adds Seketa.

The bottom line: Active ERG communications channel can help companies better understand and serve employees while alleviating looming political pressures.

Go Deeper: LinkedIn to pay its ERG leaders

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