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The Society for Diversity Explores the Evolution of Employee Resource Groups at Hybrid Summit

Susan Gordon, CDE®, Group Vice President DEI at Ross Stores Inc.

Dr. Linda Wiley Bing, CDE®, author and CEO of Turning Point Leadership Group LLC

This year’s theme, “More Than an Acronym”, is designed to explore challenges, solutions and strategies for the next generation of resource group leaders.

ATLANTA, GA, USA, September 22, 2022 / — Employers who have Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) affinities or functional groups may call them different names such as Employee Resource Groups (ERG), Business Resource Partners ( BRP), Associated Resource Networks (ARN), and other acronyms. While some focus on naming the groups, the Society for Diversity is hosting a summit to discuss what the groups do. The Hybrid Diversity 5.0 Summit themed “ERG: More Than an Acronym,” will be held virtually and in person at the Commerce Club of Atlanta on Thursday, October 6, 2022.

The concept of Resource Groups dates back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. For over 50 years, these groups have been instrumental in advancing DCI through representation, engagement and the work cross-functional team. In 2007 Eric Hall, labor attorney for Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons LLP wrote “Know the Risks Before Developing an Affinity for Affinity Groups”. Hall said, “Ninety percent of Fortune 500 companies have ‘affinity groups.’ They are considered a logical consequence of corporate diversity training and are usually found in companies with more than 100 employees. Businesses value affinity groups for a variety of reasons, such as boosting employee morale, increasing productivity, attracting and retaining minority employees, and a marketing tool for business development. Hall’s blog identified the legal and other risks associated with forming and running resource groups, but employers today face a different set of challenges.

Léa Smiley, President of the Society for Diversity inc. says: “A lot has changed since the 1970s or even 2007. When employers form and/or support post-COVID and post-George Floyd resource groups, they find that employees have unique expectations for engagement, implementation and evaluation.” Besides the economy, employers are grappling with challenges related to return to work, safety, mental health and multi-generational inclusion. Additionally, many organizations have moved to “team-based” environments, where collaboration, inclusion, critical thinking, and communication are required skills. Smiley adds, “Today’s resource groups are changing because the business landscape has changed. Granted, talent is a non-corporate asset that can easily leave the door without warning. Therefore, it is important to maintain an organizational culture that supports new perspectives and neurodiversity, while anticipating and responding to the diverse needs of your clients/students/patients/users. ERGs can play a key role in helping organizations adapt to their new reality with contemporary skills to increase representativeness, facilitate inclusive excellence, demonstrate equity, and move towards other forward-thinking practices. However, many employers struggle to modernize their approach to resource group engagement and align their ERGs with overall organizational goals.

Topics on the Summit calendar reflect these evolving needs and more. The event is designed for DEI leaders, resource group members, HR business partners, executive sponsors, consultants, allies, and other stakeholders who want to refine and redesign the resource group experience. . The partial conference program includes discussions with:

– Susan Gordon, CDE®Group Vice President DEI at Ross Stores Inc., presenting: “Managing and Aligning Your Resource Groups”
– Audrietta Izlar, CDP®and Cora Okine, Managers of DEI Workforce and Workplace Initiatives at Verizon, presenting: “Top 5 Challenges Facing Modern Resource Groups”
– Dr. Linda Wiley-Bing, CDE®author and CEO of Turning Point Leadership Group LLC, presenting: “Allyship, Intersectionality and Belonging”
– Dr. Ayanna Cummings, CDE®Founder and CEO of Tapestry Consulting LLC, presenting: “The New Era of Engagement – How to Engage Different People”
– Kristie Andrews, CDP®Vice President of Human Resources at Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital, presenting: “Inclusive Leadership”

Smiley notes, “I have personally seen most of our speakers in other venues, and I can definitely say they are the best! For example, Malia Turner, Sr. Global DEI Program Manager at Epiq, recently presented “The Dark Side of ERG’s” for another organization, and I immediately reached out to her for the summit. The feedback from her session attendees was great. More importantly, I’ve been doing DEI work for about two decades and it’s It was refreshing to learn new strategies and information from Malia.” Smiley will lead a panel discussion on “The Future of ERGs: Strategies for Success” with speakers Yolanda Johnson, CDE®Jina Etienne, CDE®and Sam Santiago, CDE®. Also, Julia Mendez-Achee, CDP®and Jennifer Tardy, CDE®, provided short “how-to” video presentations on “Launching a New GRE” and “Partnering with Recruitment,” respectively. The action-packed summit will also include presentations from: Stacye McCall, CDP®, The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Dr. DeRetta Cole Rhodes, The Atlanta Braves; Dr. Stacy Roberts, SMR Leadership Solutions; and Antoinetta Mosley, CDP®, I am the leader LLC. DJ Cash Money will close the event with an old-fashioned Happy Hour.

The online portion of the Summit will be powered by vFairs, a cutting-edge, easy-to-use virtual platform that enables engagement and accessibility for attendees around the world. Several hundred people have already registered for the event, representing all types of employers and roles in resource group management.

The work of the Society for Diversity enables the next generation of leaders to operate effectively or pivot into an increasingly diverse and complex workplace and marketplace. Since 2009, the Society for Diversity has combined education and technology to provide resources, best practices, and strategies to support effective DEI workforce interventions. The organization’s industry-recognized accreditation program, the Institute for Diversity (IDC) Certificationis the world’s #1 DEI certification program with Certified Diversity Professional (CDP)® and Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® Candidates and nominees in all 50 US states and more than 30 other countries. For more information on the October 6 Summit, visit:

Lea Smiley
The Society for Diversity Inc.
+1 317-777-7632
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