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Employee Resource Groups

We all want a workplace that recognizes and respects our uniqueness and embraces our contributions. Employees and prospective employees want to work in an environment where they can fully contribute and participate. However, organizations often feel big, disconnected, and isolated, especially to new employees. As we bounce back after the COVID epidemic and try to find “the new normal,” now more than ever, employees need to connect.  

One way to help with that is through Employee Resource Groups. ERGs, or Affinity Groups or Network Groups, have existed since the 1960s. They are employee-led groups or networks started and managed by employees for employees. ERGs aim to help connect employees and build a sense of community within the organization.  

Administrator and CEO Tracey A. LeBeau recently remarked, “As we evolve and grow as an organization, we must foster an environment where every team member feels valued, understood, and connected. ERGs do this for a company. ERGs can be a dynamic company tool to foster employee engagement and inclusion. They’re really about cultivating a sense of community within our workplace.”  

One main impact of ERGs is that they become the eyes and ears of employees who identify with a standard diversity dimension. They help define specific inclusion and diversity issues that negatively impact their membership and may require action, as well as provide ideas, recommendations, and solutions to address concerns. ERG activities help enhance all employee’s experiences, from onboarding to retirement.  

ERGs are usually formed, led and participated by employees and contractors who share a characteristic or affinity, whether gender, ethnicity, lifestyle or interest. ERG membership is voluntary and open to all employees and contractors and open to anyone outside of the relationship or interest, as allies are encouraged to join an ERG to show support for their colleagues and have the opportunity to gain cultural awareness and a unique perspective as well. ERGs help employees connect peer to peer and help make a positive impact on our mission.  

ERGs also help in our recruitment efforts. They help attract, welcome and retain top talent within the organization, assist and reinforce professional development, enhance cultural awareness throughout the organization and strengthen our inclusion and diversity efforts by helping to remove barriers that may negatively impact the success of its members. ERGs will help power WAPA forward for years to come!  

LeBeau adds, “ERGs bring people together and serve as communication channels between our employees and leadership. They also improve the overall employee experience, from onboarding to retirement.”  

WAPA’s ERGS will all have members from across WAPA to help connect the organization across regions. Our Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Committee will remain in place to support the needs of each region. ERGs and IDACS will also work together when they have common interests to tackle.  

Contracted employees may participate as members of the ERG. However, they may not serve as elected officers. Contractors also may lead ERG activities – as long as they do not represent WAPA in an official capacity (e.g., at a recruiting event). All contractors interested in joining an ERG must consult with their WAPA supervisor and their company’s management and policies about participating in these activities.  

The OEID will ensure all ERGs start well and thrive. Each WAPA ERG will have an executive sponsor who serves in an advisory and mentoring capacity to the ERG. They will model allyship and support and serve as an ambassador by increasing awareness of the ERG’s viewpoint at the executive level concerning diversity issues, WAPA’s culture and the workplace environment.  

Last year, the OEID staff held informational sessions where ERG teams from NREL, NASA, and DOE presented highlights and benefits of their ERGs within their organizations to WAPA. Since then, our Senior Leadership Team has embraced our plan to start ERGs at WAPA. Because of that, we are pleased to announce that WAPA now has three active ERGs up and running and is getting our fourth one up shortly. All of them are looking for members!  

Active ERGs  

  • Welcome to WAPA ERG  
  • WAPA Women’s ERG  
  • WAPA PRIDE ERG  

Upcoming ERGs  

  • Veterans of WAPA ERG  

Why Join an ERG? What is in it for you? By participating in an ERG, you get to:  

  • Help make WAPA a better workplace by promoting diversity, inclusion, innovation and influencing center policies.  
  • Network with other WAPA employees, managers and senior leadership – build your network “one bite at a time.”  
  • Share your cultural background and learn about other cultures and interests.  
  • Build your career by practicing communication, leadership, and project management skills in a friendly, inclusive environment.  
  • Help organize major WAPA events aimed at making WAPA more effective and inclusive.  
  • Support and influence the strategic direction of WAPA.  
  • Have the opportunity to communicate directly with WAPA senior management.  
  • Be recognized and supported by WAPA senior management for your contributions to building an inclusive culture.  
  • Explore opportunities for increased collaboration on technical and personnel topics that will benefit your projects.  
  • Help influence recruiting practices to get the skills, talents and perspectives needed at WAPA.  

Check out the OEID website; the ERG link will take you to a page with lots of information about each ERG! WAPA Employee Resource Groups (sharepoint.com) 

 

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