Building inclusive cultures: How Business Resource Groups drive success
In “The Power of Employee Resource Groups” by Farzana Nayani, she defines a Business Resource Group (BRG), also known as an Employee Resource Group (ERG) or Affinity Group, as “an employee-led group that gathers people of shared identities and interests in the workplace with a focus on connecting business objectives and company goals.”
Currently, five BRGs exist at McCownGordon, along with a Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council and a DEI Advisory board, each made up of associates from various roles around the company. The BRGs include Black Heritage, Hispanic/Latinx, Pride, Veterans and Women in Leadership. Others may follow as the business grows. The DEI Council is the umbrella group that connects, oversees and supports the efforts of the BRGs while also supporting other DEI initiatives within the organization. The DEI Advisory Board is a group of senior management and Leadership associates that help guide and support the DEI Council and BRGs on enterprise-wide DEI initiatives.
Bringing diverse thoughts, backgrounds and beliefs to the table empowers innovation and higher company performance. We know when people feel seen, valued and can live authentically, they are happier and more engaged in their work. BRGs empower this effort.
Each BRG champions different causes and shared initiatives related to the business from an internal and external perspective. They focus on engaging with groups and organizations within the different communities where we live and work, and recognizing and celebrating different observances, backgrounds and beliefs to increase understanding and create a welcoming environment for all.
For example, in the past year the Black Heritage BRG worked on education events and lunch and learns focused around Black History Month and Juneteenth. The Pride BRG focused on increasing visibility of our LGBTQ+ associates through educational events, attending local Pride Month celebrations and working with HR to update policies and procedures. The Hispanic/Latinx BRG plans to tackle translating employee communications and our website for associates, trade partners and clients who speak primarily Spanish. The Veterans BRG brought in local organizations that advocate and inform on Veterans needs to educate our associates. The Women in Leadership BRG, McCownGordon’s longest-running group, focuses their efforts on professional development for female associates in the construction industry.
Our associates have heard from city officials, advocates and executives from around the region who are making an impact. Our policies are becoming more inclusive, and our benefits are always being reviewed to better support our associate population. Our Pride BRG was recently awarded the “ERG of the Year” award by the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce for their efforts in the community and industry to create a more inclusive space for LGBTQ+ people.
Associates leading our BRGs and those serving in advocacy roles take on new challenges and develop leadership skills that complement their professional growth. Our associates are becoming more informed about the communities around them that are unlike their own, contributing to a stronger sense of belonging and the creation of new relationships and friendships across the company. This propels more conversations around business processes and opportunities—all leading to greater engagement and an exceptional associate and customer experience.