My body my choice hero

Employee Resource Groups and Roe v Wade

Research conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) during the first harrowing months of the COVID-19 pandemic found that employee resource groups (ERGs/BRGs, etc.) played an essential role in crisis response for many employers.

As organizations identified and mobilized every resource available to assist in responding to workers’ changing needs in real-time and, as my colleague, Carol Morrison, noted in August 2020: “to ensure that their organizational cultures remain tangible and unifying forces during the health crisis,” ERGs were indispensable. They were tapped to assist with communications, to gather and share employee sentiment, to identify critical emerging issues, and advise leadership on response strategy.

In the very different current crisis presented by the anticipated overturning of Roe v Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime before the end of this month, organizations again turn to ERGs to help them navigate their way through, according to i4cp’s latest data.

As we highlighted earlier this month, organizations are currently taking action or considering action related to Roe v Wade primarily by focusing on auditing various benefits they currently offer.

But cultural considerations are also under the microscope, and this is where ERGs come in.

Of the 366 human resources and other talent leaders who participated in i4cp’s survey, the number-one action taken in response to Roe v Wade is turning to employee resource/business groups for help:

Top five actions already implemented or about to be implemented:

  1. Leveraging employee resource/business groups for guidance on communications 
  2. Creating a crisis communications plan
  3. Facilitating workplace discussions on the topic
  4. Training people leaders to facilitate sensitive conversations on this topic
  5. Tracking the talent implications of a ruling once it’s handed down (e.g., people declining or accepting a job in a state with abortion restrictions)

Top five actions under consideration for implementation:

  1. Training people leaders to facilitate sensitive conversations on this topic
  2. Creating a crisis communications plan
  3. Leveraging employee resource/business groups for guidance on communications 
  4. Facilitating workplace discussions on the topic
  5. Tracking the talent implications of a ruling once it’s handed down (e.g., people declining or accepting a job in a state with abortion restrictions)

Clearly, the common thread among the actions already taken and those being considered is connection and communication—with culture at the heart. The best approach to managing difficult issues begins with inviting the many voices and perspectives to the table that represent the entirety of the organization—not just the C-suite.

Employee resource groups are uniquely positioned to sense what’s happening across the organization and are invaluable in helping to guide strategy and response planning.

No matter what the ultimate outcome of the current U.S. Supreme Court session may be, organizations that are dedicated to building and sustaining healthy cultures in which communication is everyone’s responsibility will be situated to respond in ways that make the most sense for them, with their employees leading the way.  

Lorrie Lykins is i4cp's Vice President of Research

This is the third of a three-part series of articles covering the results of i4cp’s Employer Response to the Implications of Roe v Wade survey. See the first article here; the second article here.