At Radius, we're often asked how Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) teams and employee networks and resource groups (ERGs) can work together more closely. While they share the same goal in terms of pushing for workplace inclusivity, their relationship can be complex. So why is there often tension?

In this article, we explore some of the causes behind the divide and set out solutions for happier ways of working.

Different Goals and Objectives
EDI and Human Resources (HR) teams are focused on creating policy and ensuring it’s lived up to in terms of the way managers act with their employees. Most EDI and HR teams care passionately about employee experience, but their roles are focused on improving the organisation so their lens and goals are always about the company.

ERGs on the other hand, are made up of people from across departments, who are uniquely focused on the needs and interests of their demographic or focus. They exist because they want to bring about change to the company and disrupt the way things are done.

There are often also differences in the speed of work, communication as well as decision making authority and power between ERGs and EDI teams. Together, these differences can make collaboration challenging. So what can be done?

Building a Bridge Across the Divide
Everyone at Radius has led an ERG or EDI team. And as most of us have done both, we see the challenge from twin perspectives. Here are our top 3 tips for better ways of working.

Clarity of purpose
ERG members are naturally passionate about what they do. And most balance their network roles alongside demanding day jobs. So nothing is more frustrating than having a project or idea overruled by the EDI or HR team. Often this arises when there are mismatched understandings of EDI or network strategy. This can be avoided by taking the time to align on strategy and clearly defining roles. When both groups strive to understand the purpose of what each is trying to achieve, disagreement about ERG projects can melt away.

Collaborative ways of working
Having an HR or EDI sponsor in the ERG committee is a great way to build alignment. We have also seen ERGs invite EDI or HR leaders to regular quarterly meetings to update, educate and build trust and alignment. Collaborative ways of working should go both ways. When ERG leaders attend HR leadership team meetings, it provides a wonderful opportunity to build presentation skills and develop cross functional ways of working. In short, ERGs and EDI teams work better together!

Measure and celebrate success
Once ERGs and EDI Teams are aligned and working towards the same goals, it’s important to set measures of success too. Decide which key performance indicators will help you to measure working together and consider how cross functional ways of working have contributed. Once you hit your milestones, make sure you take time to celebrate your joint achievement! In doing so, you’ll drive further collaboration and foster a deeper sense of mutual respect. Annual summits can be a great way to reward, recognise and celebrate your collaborative achievements. Some organisations even host recognition awards and thank you schemes, to celebrate the progress their ERGs and EDI Teams have made by working well together.

If you need help with aligning your ERGs and the EDI or HR teams, we’d love to hear from you. We have a range of workshops and coaching that have helped to unstick the trickiest relationships and build more productive ways of working, for the greater good.

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