Curious about Employee Resource Groups (ERG)s? Here’s our quick guide
Last month, Australian Network on Disability (AND) held two sessions on Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), also known as Disability Employee Networks (DEN)s. Hosted by global disability networking and professional development hub – PurpleSpace, the sessions provided practical tips on:
- Setting up an Employee Resource Group
- Implementing a high performing Employee Resource Group.
Australian Network on Disability is also offering our own tips on setting up an ERG.
What is an ERG?
An ERG is a forum where people with disability, carers, allies and friends connect to drive organisational change. Emily Matthews, Member Experience Manager at AND, says
Forums like ERGs are integral. Everyone who is interested in accessibility and inclusion has the opportunity to connect and make positive, tangible changes for people with disability in the workplace.
What is the purpose of an ERG?
An ERG drives organisational change through consultation, activity and conversation.
ERGs create inclusive and accessible workplaces by hosting events, developing policies and procedures.
Why do ERGs form?
ERG’s can form for many different reasons. ERGs may form:
- to come together to support employees with disability and for those who care for people with disability. to raise ideas and discuss key workplace issues – including workplace adjustments (eg flexible work).
- to consult across business; monitoring accessibility and inclusion of systems, policies and procedures.
- to improve policies and procedures to provide a disability-focused forum, particularly at times when an organisation is undertaking substantial change, eg change of premises.
Currently 86 of our AND members have an ERG – but that number continues to grow as employees see the value of connecting with other like-minded staff, especially as COVID has impacted the way work.
Our tips on starting an ERG
- Develop a clear sense of purpose for the group that drives change
- Establish Terms of Reference so everyone understands the processes
- Have a clear structure – assign a Chairperson, secretary and, if needed, a treasurer.
At AND, we suggest following PurpleSpace’s Magic 3 which include:
- A Senior Executive Disability Champion
- Disability Employee Network leader
- Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) practitioner.
We encourage bringing the ERG and the D&I lead together to set the agenda for each ERG meeting.
What can an ERG achieve?
- Educate the broader organisation and raise awareness of inclusion and accessibility across the organisation.
- Establish disability inclusion action plans for the organisation, supporting all employees with disability to work equitably.
- Influence change – through activities or guiding decisions so inclusion and accessibility is considered.
Want to start an ERG with our support?
AND facilitates ERG formation workshops.
We can help you talk through what your ERG can do, support you in identifying what you want to achieve in your network and also help you create the terms of reference,
Contact your Relationship Manager for more information.
Attitudes are the barrier to inclusion: but we can provide solutions
20 % of Australians agree that employers should be allowed to refuse to hire people with disability.
Common misconceptions and stereotypes might be responsible for that sentiment. With many people being unaware of the business benefits. Australians may believe:
- it’s expensive to hire people with disability
- people with disability are less productive
- people with disability take more sick days
But at Australian Network on Disability, we know that through building disability confidence, we can change attitudes.
We’re proud to say that we’re dispelling these misconceptions with our 360-strong member network leading the way.
Our network includes a range of organisations from different industries and locations. Despite the differences, our members have one goal in common.
Disability inclusion is firmly on the agenda.
Through engaging with our programs, services and products, our network build their disability confidence skills. Our members are creating a workplace environment that supports people with disability. And they create an environment that welcomes customers with disability.
Currently, 54 % of Australians agree that employers should not be allowed to refuse to hire people with disability.
And while we still have ways to go to broaden that number, our network is pioneering the attitude change.
Is your workplace inclusive of people with disability?
42% of Australians believe that workplaces are accepting of people with disability.
This indicates that there are still ways to go to create inclusive culture in workplaces.
We can build up inclusion through education and awareness about disability. We can highlight business benefits of employing people with disability. And we can build up disability confidence.
We can change statistics like the one below.
78% of Australians agree that people are unsure of how to act towards people with disability.
As a member of Australian Network on Disability, you are already part of this change.
How can your organisation provide further education and awareness?
- Host an intern with disability in our Stepping Into internship program
- Build up your disability confidence skills by mentoring jobseekers with disability in our PACE mentoring program
- Become a Disability Confident Recruiter and remove barriers from the recruitment process
- Measure the accessibility and inclusion in your organisation with the Access and Inclusion Index
If you are not a member of AND, become a member today.
Change attitudes. Remove barriers.
Read the full report
VPSC is equipping the Victorian Public Sector for wellbeing
The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) is celebrating the one year anniversary since the launch of the accessible and inclusive Wellbeing toolkit.
Launched during Mental Health Month in 2020, the VSPC developed the toolkit in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to support the wellbeing of Victorian public sector employees in these challenging circumstances.
The positive mental health and wellbeing of public sector employees is critical in continuing to deliver government services uninterrupted to all Victorians, particularly at a time when the community needs it the most
Adam Fennessy PSM, Victorian Public Sector Commissioner.
What is the toolkit?
The Wellbeing toolkit is an online platform that provides tips, tools and activities that support managers in creating a positive environment for the wellbeing of employees in their teams. There are numerous topics explored in the toolkit, including a section on supporting employees with disability.
Topics in the toolkit include:
- Why inclusive language matters as a manager
- Quick and easy ways to make work accessible for your team
- Accessibility scavenger hunt
- Audio description empathy exercises, plus more.
Managers and team leaders are invited to use the toolkit to support their team members. Each section explores why the topic matters, the importance of prioritising the topic, the legal obligations of managers, and the impact inaction could have on the personal wellbeing of team members.
The toolkit has been designed to be used in offices, while working remotely, or in hybrid environments, so that it is inclusive and accessible.
The toolkit was reviewed by Carfi Consulting, an experienced, independent workplace psychology consultancy along with Accessible Action consultancy. The Victorian Public Service Enablers Network also reviewed the toolkit.
Australian Network on Disability also provided guidance and feedback on the content.
The impact of the toolkit
This easy to use, read, and access resource has received positive feedback from staff across the Victorian public sector. Commissioner Adam Fennessy says it has been such a success because
the toolkit provides practical ways to influence wellbeing through authentic human connection, such as conversation building empathy and trust. It provides people managers with tips, tools and activities they can use in many work environments, and with little to no forward planning, to help people feel well at work.
For organisations that are building support systems for their employees’ mental health, the VSPC advises:
Engage with the people you want to support. The consultation process for the Wellbeing toolkit was one of the most insightful and informative steps in our process. Understanding what people actually need, rather than making assumptions about their needs, is a crucial distinction to make, especially when it comes to wellbeing.