How Resource Groups Run

March 13, 2012 8:15 pm


Resource Groups are a no brainer for so many organizations today.

Indeed, data from the DiversityInc Top 50, as detailed in our Resource Group Report, shows that these resource groups are crucial to business success with multicultural communities.  When used effectively, they increase diversity in recruitment and promotions as well as improve overall employee engagement.

Here’s an overview of what we found companies are doing when it comes to setting up and running resource groups:

Make it count

All of the companies (and others we interviewed) considered formally signing up for membership via email, online check-off or a written form to “count” as membership.

Only 67 percent considered attending events to “count,” and a few companies told us they don’t count attendance at events. Sixty-seven percent also said that attending a minimum number of meetings per year (usually three) qualifies a person as actually being a member of the employee-resource group. And only 22 percent counted “actively participating.”

Who’s in/Who’s not

More than half (56 percent) of the surveyed companies exclude contractors, 22 percent exclude hourly workers and 45 percent have different membership policies for hourly workers. The DiversityInc Top 50 companies, which cover more than 14 industries, report that 30 percent exclude hourly workers. The differences, however, are very strong between industries.

The issue of what constitutes a constituency for an employee-resource group is more nebulous. Some organizations insist it should be a traditionally underrepresented group (such as women or Blacks) while others are eager to include more unusual groups—“parents of children with attention-deficit disorder,” for example. More popular newer types of groups deal with religion, age and disability.

Skin in the game

Only 11 percent of the companies surveyed charge members fees to participate, with the average fee being $25. Why do this? “We want them to have skin in the game, and charging people a nominal membership fee does that,” one company said.

And 45 percent of those surveyed, require a minimum number of employees to start a new employee-resource group, with the number required ranging from 10 to 50, depending on the size of the company.

Taking the lead

Leaders of employee-resource groups are often tapped to take on more significant roles in the organization. But many companies are unsure of who should lead those groups (those with demonstrated experience, those who are “diamonds in the rough” or more junior), and what type of evaluation/compensation they should receive. Our survey showed there is a wide variety of leadership-selection processes and a growing insistence on performance accountability.

For more details on how employee resource groups are structured take a look at the full report here.