Christos Tsaprounis, People and Culture Director at Auto Trader UK shares his insights on the benefits Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) bring to the business and how they have helped drive new initiatives.

How have ERGs influenced the way things are done at Auto Trader?
At Auto Trader, ERGs have played an active part in the business for the past 8 years. They have been brilliant in supporting the wider D & I as well as our People Strategy. The benefits they bring are significant – both adding to the diversity of thinking in all our work and in particular, insight when designing a new people focused initiative or policy. We partner with them early on so they can help design and bring their lived experience to inform what we do.

Can you provide an example of how an ERG has influenced policy at Auto Trader?
Recently, the Age Network, whose aim is to support a multi-generational workforce, implemented an innovative policy at Auto Trader. They introduced a recognition scheme of an extra week’s holiday for employees when employees reach 20 years’ service. They also developed a framework to help people transition to retirement by reducing their hours on full pay during their last period of being employed with us.

Do you think that ERGs can improve the employee experience?
Yes, definitely. At Auto Trader, our ERGs have been fundamental in developing partnerships with charities and community groups which bring a lot of expertise that we need to improve our overall employee experience. We build partnerships and return the support to the work they do and make a difference to them; our work with the Carbon Literacy Project is a great example led by our Sustainability Network that is bringing change not only for our business but for our industries reaching thousands of people.

How do ERGs collaborate with each other and the business?
It is really important that as a People Team we work collaboratively with ERGs, share objectives and support each other. The ERG networks meet once a month to identify opportunities to collaborate with each other and amplify each other’s initiatives. They also meet with the Senior Leadership Team twice a year to set and provide updates on their annual objectives; an opportunity for the Exec Sponsors to provide guidance and support to our ERG’s.

How has working with Radius impacted the work of your networks?
Radius has helped elevate our network impact in a number of ways. Two of our long established networks (Ethnicity and Women) participated in Radius’s Network Maturity Report Development Sessions. The feedback process of asking Network Leaders, facilitators and the D&I Team to reflect on how the networks were doing was really useful on different key aspects from network branding to strategy. Then Radius helped us look at the collective results to identify the areas that we want to concentrate on going forward. One of the outcomes of this was how we measure the impact of awareness campaigns and communicate our initiatives more effectively.

What has been the most valuable part about participating in the Radius programmes?
Over the past 5 years since working with Radius, our Network Leads have taken part in both Leadership Development programmes. They consistently say they value the networking opportunities the most, from meeting experts at the live sessions to other networks leads from different companies. The programmes also provide an introduction to a wider network of external employee networks which helps to explore ideas more deeply and share best practice. We have also had really good feedback from the Network Sponsors Program for senior leaders.

Radius has not only helped us think more strategically about the longer-term impact of networks but has shaped how they operate. For example, they have helped networks think about their branding and identity, supported the D&I Team with their wider objectives and focused on a clear communication strategy, governance and structure. Whether you are a Network Lead, Sponsor or member of the Executive Leadership Team, the benefits are felt.

Can you sum up your experience of working with Radius?
Radius as a team has been really easy to work with – they are pro-active and responsive, but I think the most important aspect of the partnership with Radius is the collective years of experience and expertise that they have in their work with employee networks.

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