As part of a journey to strengthen our culture of inclusion, we began writing quarterly articles designed to stimulate conversation about relevant and sometimes challenging topics. The idea is that healthy and open dialogue is an essential prerequisite to breaking down the barriers to inclusiveness. This year, we are using published articles to inspire discussion around challenging topics.In this paper, we look at the topic of employee resource groups (ERGs). Last year, one of the big four consulting firms—long recognized as a leader in tackling inclusion and diversity within our profession—took the bold move of eliminating its ERGs. The thinking behind this was that the firm can make more of an impact by redirecting its investment to help executives build skills for fostering an inclusive workplace, and then holding them accountable for doing so.
At West Monroe, we are just now beginning to formalize our approach to establishing ERGs, and coverage of this other firm’s decision has prompted some questions about whether that should influence our own direction. My response is that our two organizations are in very different places. ERGs have a lifecycle, and subsequently, a value that peaks at some point and then begins to diminish. Other companies’ ERGs have likely been in place for years—longer, possibly, than we have been in business—and their benefits have matured. It is not uncommon for this type of structure to eventually begin to feel as if they unintentionally separate rather than unite people. West Monroe, on the other hand, is now reaching a size where we believe formal ERGs can provide tangible value for our organization.