Employee Resource Groups: A business imperative

By: Corporate Communications

Editor’s Note: As our Employee Resource Group (ERG) Month comes to a close, a group of five ERG executive sponsors joined a virtual seminar to discuss the great importance of ERGs to our business. Visible in the banner, above, and in the video, below, Siemens USA ERGs offer community and opportunity to talented people from all walks of life. 

As Employee Resource Group (ERG) month at Siemens USA comes to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the growing role of ERGs in our organization.  

 

Our first ERG, the Women’s Impact Network at Siemens (WIN@S), was founded in 2009. Since then, eight more ERGs have formed, and more than 10,000 of our employees interact with at least one ERG: 

  • Asian Cultural Exchange: Connecting with our employees, customers, and communities by sharing Asian culture. 
  • Association for Multicultural Inclusion and Growth at Siemens (AMIG@S): A mutually inclusive employee community, promoting diverse culture, values and history while encouraging interaction between Siemens employees. 
  • The Black Professional Network at Siemens (BPN@S): Seeking to enrich and galvanize Black employees, focusing on equitable access to career growth and networking. 
  • Pride: Working for LBGTQ+ community and inclusion, and a resource for allies to continuously learn about the LGBTQ+ community. 
  • SiemensAbility: Fostering an environment of inclusion, awareness, understanding, and support of the disabled community. 
  • Siemens GREEN: Promoting sustainability at Siemens by raising awareness and engaging employees. 
  • Siemens NEXT: Helping early and mid-career professionals make an impact on our business, develop careers and new skills, and create work-place communities. 
  • The Siemens Veterans Network: Recognizing the service and contributions of our veterans and their families, creating veteran-centered communities in the workplace. 
  • The Women’s Impact Network at Siemens (WIN@S): Creating a community that fosters women’s careers growth while addressing topics of interest and concern for women at Siemens. 

And while ERGs continue to support strong internal social networks, today they’re also helping to transform our business by bolstering a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that makes us both more innovative and competitive. Consider that companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33 percent more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors see returns on capital invested as high as 66 percent. And organizations that embrace DEI best practices can achieve as much as a 28-percent increase in revenue, doubled net income, and 30-percent higher profit margins than their industry peers. 

While ERGs continue to support strong internal social networks, today they’re also helping to transform our business by bolstering a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that makes us both more innovative and competitive.

In particular, ERGs enable the voices of employees to be heard and tap into the power of diverse thinking to drive customer impact. Which points at a key emerging trend: the American workplace is becoming talent-centric and talent-diverse in ways it has never seen before.

 

You be you: ERGs promote being your authentic self at work

 

If Siemens wants to attract the best talent it can, then we must be open to the whole spectrum of candidates. And those potential employees must know, before they even consider Siemens, that they can be comfortable being themselves at work—on site or remotely. If a person cannot be their authentic self at work, then they are often spending time worrying what other people will think of them. That’s energy that isn’t going into pursuing goals, innovation, and career development. 

 

“ERGs help break down walls and let people know we can talk openly and inclusively about race, gender, or LBGTQ+ issues and embrace differences in the workplaces,” said Ray McCleary, Head of EHS for Smart Infrastructure, and a Pride ERG executive sponsor, during a recent internal seminar called “The Next Big Thing: ERGs are a business imperative.” 

 

“Without visible ERG structures,” McCleary said, “managers would probably shy away from having these important discussions. But we really need that space where employees know management can and will address these issues with our workforce.”

 

Those ERG structures are embedded throughout the whole organization because our ERGs are usually not just location-specific chapters—they are broad, national networks across the company that create multiple safe spaces for open dialogue, promoting employee engagement and retention.  

 

People finders: ERGs are diversity-talent pipelines

 

The broad network of ERGs across our company also directly enables high-quality talent sourcing, because the people in our ERGs have diverse connections across the job market. And many people in our ERGs want their professional peers to know that Siemens seeks diverse talent.

 

“As a lead in the Pride ERG, I’m engaged not just for idea-generation with my peers—I’m also thinking about recruitment,” said seminar moderator Jason Montgomery, Senior Consultant, Global HR Strategy, and national LGBTQ+ ERG chair.

 

Most of our ERGs are also actively and regularly involved in volunteering opportunities and community events, including multiple Pride events across the country, Special Olympics events in Atlanta, and cultural celebrations like Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, International Women’s Day and more. Our employee volunteers have direct engagement with the community, representing the company on a very personal level. 

 

The value that an ERG can give to the individual employee—our ERGs being open to all employees—are another significant attractor of talent, in a market where talent has a lot of choice about where to go. 

 

"People engaging with ERGs at Siemens have the opportunity to take advantage of roles within the ERG to develop leadership skills,” said seminar participant Kathy Booe-Kiser, Smart Infrastructure Sales Excellence Team and an executive sponsor of the Pride ERG.

 

Good business: ERGs engage to meet customer and supplier diversity requirements

 

Supplier diversity is a daily priority for Siemens. With more than 24,000 suppliers nationwide, we’re always looking at our level of business with women-owned, veteran-owned, Black-owned, and other diversity-owned suppliers and vendors. 

 

ERGs play a notable role in that effort. The people in our ERGs are connected to people in the community and know many business owners looking for opportunities as suppliers to our company. This helps to increase diversity in our supplier base, which matters to our customers. 

 

“Why are Environment, Society and Governance (ESG) matters popping up in contract language?” Ann Fairchild, General Counsel, Siemens U.S., Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Siemens Corporation (U.S.), said during the seminar. “Customers are more frequently asking for diversity commitments as part of the bidding process to clarify the degree to which we are engaging in a more diverse supplier environment as well as driving equity through our own internal DEI policies. We need to be prepared to not only make these commitments internally, but to share these externally with tangible proof points that we are fulfilling those commitments. ” (Fairchild is also an executive sponsor for the WIN@S ERG.)

 

Indeed, customers often want to know how we seek diversity in our business dealings, according to seminar participant Troy Salazar, Global Head for Oil and Gas Vertical Sales for Large Drive Applications, and executive sponsor for the AMIG@S ERG.

 

They want to understand our approach to our DEI mission, Salazar said, noting that ERG members “are out there [at public events] representing our company culture.” Customers looks to Siemens to be a diverse company, and our ERGs help make that possible by creating multiple diverse communities within the company.

 

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All of this is why, throughout ERG Month, Siemens held events to increase engagement in ERGs and encourage employees to explore the opportunity to connect with new mentors, discover talent, and build high-trust relationships.

 

“Why are ERGs a business imperative?” Montgomery asked. “Because without them, we will lose out on talent. We will lose business if we’re not keeping up with what society is expecting of us.” 

Published: August 4, 2021