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Diversity Inc: Exploring the History and Evolution of Employee Resource Groups

04 Aug 2020
According to research for the Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, many companies’ ERGs have evolved to include an emphasis on community volunteer work.

Originally found at Diversity Inc, by Olivia Riggio.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are powerful resources for facilitating discussions and providing networks for professionals based on shared identities, experiences and allyship. These groups have roots in the desire to advocate for employees and give them a space at work to be their best authentic selves. In the past few decades, companies have expanded ERG topics and begun implementing chapters worldwide, and today, ERGs are integrated into business strategies as imperatives. All of the 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity have ERGs.

Let’s take a look at the history and evolution of such a vital part of diversity and inclusion efforts at today’s top companies:

Roots in the Civil Rights movement

ERGs, originally called workplace affinity groups, began in the 1960s in response to racial tensions in the United States. In 1964 along with the company’s Black employees, Joseph Wilson, the former CEO of Xerox came up with the idea in response to the race riots that occurred in Rochester, New York where Xerox was headquartered. At the time, Xerox had a progressive hiring program, but once hired, Black employees still faced discrimination. In 1970, Wilson and Xerox’s Black employees launched the National Black Employees Caucus to create a space for Black employees to discuss their experiences and advocate for change within their company. This caucus was the country’s first official ERG.


Continue reading the original article at Diversity Inc.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Proceedings

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