Employee Resource Groups: The Classy Communities That Bolster Our Mission
Classy staff culture has always been organic and grassroots in nature—whether it is mobilizing for a cause, launching a fundraising campaign, or convening for a good-natured celebration. True to form, it is not surprising that our employees organically created what would soon be employee resource groups around common interests, identities, and causes.
We quickly understood that these groups, which we named Classy Communities, were the heartbeat of our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) movement at Classy. We jumped at the opportunity to create resources for them to operate and thrive.
Classy Communities are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Traditionally, these are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.
Laying the foundation
It was important to us that we tie Classy Communities to the greater mission of mobilizing and empowering the world for good.
So we differentiated groups from Classy Communities via a simple application process. Simply put, Classy Communities need to have:
- Meetings (consistent)
- A mission statement
- A volunteering agenda
- An employee engagement plan
From there, the People Team provides support and a forum for sharing best practices.
Benefits of Classy Communities
The benefits of nurturing our Classy Communities are apparent both for Classy and our employees.
DEI: Classy Communities are open spaces that foster inclusion, belonging, and advocacy. They allow and encourage vulnerable conversations (both live and over Slack) and have been invaluable to maintaining real connections in a remote environment. We also turn to Classy Communities for input and insight on key DEI initiatives.
Development: Classy Community leaders get to call the shots! They gain valuable leadership experience in the areas of public speaking, project management, cross-functional collaboration, budgeting, and vendor management. Plus, their peers look at them as experts.
Access: Classy Communities give burgeoning leaders of all styles and demographics the chance to shine in front of the Senior and Executive Leadership Teams. Community leaders present their work on a quarterly basis and this visibility enables them to make names for themselves faster.
Engagement: Employees who have friends at work are 7 times more likely to be productive engaged in their role based on this recent study. Moreover, we learned that 62% of employees equate Classy’s DEI and Community initiatives with their decision to join (or stay at) Classy!
Here’s what our Classy Community Leaders have to say about the experience:
“Classy Communities has given me the opportunity to take part in important and meaningful conversations with my colleagues and provides a safe place and feeling of belonging!
“When Classy Communities formed they provided a space to be open about personal experiences and stand for something. The communities have allowed for me to face personal challenges head on by developing skills that made me a stronger and more confident leader.
“Classy Communities has been instrumental in my growth professionally and personally. I have learned a tremendous amount, all while making stronger connections with my co-workers. I can honestly say that Classy’s Toastmasters community helped me ‘find my voice’ by providing the support and encouragement I needed to more comfortably speak to larger groups and lead more effective meetings.”
We think the key to thriving Communities is to give employees the tools and get out of their way. Small investments and a little support can go a long way!
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