You’ve probably seen the news by now: “Eccentric Billionaire Takes Over Twitter.”
The Elon Musk reign had a long list of campaign promises, including a more authentic social media platform where anyone can express their opinions without retaliation. That’s great and all. But, right now, I know I’m not alone in saying that we are incredibly distracted from said promises based on what’s happening behind closed doors. First, the board of directors were fired. Then the engineers and content moderators. Now the ERGs?!
Isa Watson broke the news that Elon Musk has effectively dissolved all ERGs at Twitter. (RIP Twitter Women and BlackBirds). These ERGs were a pillar of the community and provided support for so many women, especially BIPOC women, in the tech world. As we say goodbye, I can’t help but wonder just how devastating this move is. Let’s get into why.
What is an ERG?
ERG stands for Employee Resource Groups. These affinity groups are a network within a company where employees meet based on a shared identity or interest that binds them all together. These groups exist to create safe spaces for employees and allies to discuss the realities of these shared identities, as well as offer a chance to network and socialize with one another.
Though ERGs are not a new concept, we saw a rise in the formation of these groups in 2020 as a result of the George Floyd protests. We saw groups form for employees that identify as BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+, disabled, parents, etc.
Why Do You Need ERGs
The dissolution of Twitter Women and Blackbirds is especially shocking because ERGs are so vital for any company. Here are a list of benefits:
1. Employee Engagement: ERGs are a great vehicle in driving connections amongst employees. People crave social interaction with like minded individuals and the remote world made that so much harder to execute. Having a connection with people that identify the same way as you creates camaraderie and boosts employee engagement. Take it from me! When I first started working, I only saw white faces day in and day out. It wasn’t until I found my ERGs where I felt like I truly belonged. My ERGs were a great way for me to interact and participate at work.
2. Inclusive Environment: Not all ERGs are built the same. Some are truly just meant to be safe spaces for employees. However, some ERGs feed into larger DEI systems in the workplace to weigh in on diversity and inclusion policies and regulations for the entire company. No matter how an ERGs is set up, they all help create an inclusive work environment. ERGs can help create awareness for larger issues, help point out microaggressions, and celebrate diversity. As a former ERG leader, this was my favorite aspect. I got to help educate the company in key traditions from different cultural groups and help these groups showcase everything that makes them special.
3. Professional Development: Beyond inclusion and belonging, ERGs empower their members to always sharpen their skills through professional development. They can host workshops to knowledge share. They can gain scholarships and discounts to attend industry conferences. They can provide mentorship and leadership opportunities. ERGs are a great way to meet people from all different roles and backgrounds at the company to also better network and boost personal career growth.
4. Retention and Recruitment: Because of the above qualities, ERGs become a sort of safe haven for employees. When these groups thrive, employees are more inclined to stay at the company. They are satisfied, happy, and motivated overall. Your top talent is more likely to continue at the company with a thriving ERG in place. Such positive attitudes also become a great recruitment tool. Everyone wants to work at a company with a solid working culture and the ERGs are great examples of that success.
Overall, employee resource and other affinity groups are the backbone of a great workplace. Removing such a space can be very detrimental to morale. Twitter's dissolution of ERGs will in the long run impact satisfaction, engagement, and retention during a time when the company can’t stand to lose any more. Accént is committed to helping companies create more inclusive environments. Our gifting services were crafted with the intention of helping with employee engagement, with ERGs being some of our biggest partners. This news hits close to home. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this all unfolds, but for now our hearts go out to the former ERGs at Twitter!