Like many professionals in the diversity and inclusion space, Andréa Long, Senior Manager of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion at DoorDash, did not plan to become involved in this work—she answered a call. And that call was delivered through her participation in an employee resource group (ERG).
“I was fortunate enough to happen to attend an ERG meeting. Someone said, ‘Hey, you should check this out. Our black and LatinX ERGs are separating. We’re going to have unique ERGs for each demographic instead of one sort of people of color ERG,’” Andréa explained in the latest episode of “Untapped,” Jumpstart’s weekly DE&I podcast hosted by Chief People Officer Tariq Meyers. “So I happened to come to this meeting where a lot of the chartering was taking place. They were looking for leaders, and I raised my hand. That’s really where my work in D&I started.”
And that’s also where Andréa was able to gain an understanding of how ERGs function within organizations and the things they need to function successfully. The following are three ways Andréa says that companies can support their ERGs so everyone can benefit from the work they do.
3 Ways You Can Support Your ERG
1. Integrate ERG leaders into the D&I team
As leaders of ERGs volunteer to keep these groups running, they may find that they’re interested in dedicating themselves to D&I work by becoming part of the diversity and inclusion recruitment team full time. If that’s the case, Andréa says companies should make a pathway that allows them to integrate into a D&I job. This will help the ERG further merge with the D&I team to increase the efficiency of both.
2. Compensate ERG leaders for their time
Since ERG leaders volunteer their time for the betterment of their organizations, Andréa suggests that they be paid for their hard work—which could be through tangible and intangible types of compensation.
“I think companies should be compensating people for their time, both financially and in other ways—like sponsorship, access to executives, public speaking opportunities, or different project opportunities at the company-wide level,” she said. “They’re doing so much for the company and then often left behind in their nine-to-five work.”
3. Support ERG members with their full-time jobs
When it comes to the nine-to-five work that ERG members do, it’s important for organizations to give them as much support as possible because the contributions they make as a volunteer may lead to their regular work falling through the cracks if they’re not careful.
“They’re spending so much time on the diversity work that sometimes their real work, the work they’re getting paid to do, slips behind,” Andréa said. “So we need to better support ERG leaders in their nine-to-five work and not just see them as sort of D&I contributors.”
With this support, ERGs can give workers from marginalized groups the assistance they need to feel welcome and heard. Also, strong ERGs can play an integral role in helping a company meet its diversity and inclusion goals.
“I think that companies often rely on employee resource groups to define what they need. They always ask questions like ‘Who are you?’, ‘Where are you going?’, ‘What are you doing?’, and ‘Where do you want to be?’ So ERGs definitely help define where a diversity and inclusion strategy goes, and make it really accessible for anyone at the company—no matter if they’re on the DNI team or not—to be involved in that process,” Andréa said.
Check out this week’s episode of “Untapped” to hear more of Andréa’s discussion about D&I issues.
About Andréa Long
Andréa Long is a Bay Area native, UC Davis alumna, and entrepreneur. Andréa has worked on diversity & inclusion initiatives for top tech companies and has led the strategy and execution of programming for Employee Resource Groups. In further efforts to increase diversity and inclusion, she co-founded Our Collective, a community resource group that empowers Black and Latinx Employee Resource Group leaders. In 2012, Andréa founded Firewood Events, an event and wedding planning company, and then in 2020, she co-founded Swag by Asayo, a swag and gifting company that features products from Black- and Latinx-owned small businesses. In all of her work, Andréa takes a people-first approach in order to be as inclusive as possible for people of all identities and backgrounds across the globe. When not working or running her businesses, you can find Andréa decorating and furnishing her new home, baking sweet treats, or hosting a game night with family and friends.