Skip to main content

10 Takeaways from the 2020 Houston NEXT: An ERG Summit

Published Oct 26, 2020 by Casey Schrade

Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices Panel

Panelists discuss diversity, inclusion and employee resource group best practices

The Partnership convened nearly 700 business leaders, diversity and inclusion officers, HR professionals, recruiters and ERG leaders at the third annual Houston NEXT: An ERG Summit October 15-19. The summit explored how Houston can and should take a leadership role in addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice for our region and workplaces.

Through presentations and discussion groups, thought leaders and attendees shared best practices, challenges, recruitment/retention needs and suggestions on championing D&I in the workplace. Here are 10 key takeaways: 

  1. Diversity and inclusion should carry as much weight as any other business measurement in your organization. Diversity of thought and including different voices at the table can help drive business impact and outcomes. Encourage leaders to include a diversity and inclusion component within their performance review metrics. 
     
  2. Use employee resource groups (sometimes called business resource groups) and employee networks to engage people around common passions and interests. Dr. Terri Cooper discussed how Deloitte uses their employee councils as a source to host courageous conversations. “The purpose of these councils is to bring together people of different backgrounds and different experiences to engage in conversations regarding what’s happening in the community, employee well-being, professional development and perhaps most importantly, issues relating to diversity and inclusion.”
     
  3. Executive sponsors, allies and advocates are key supporting elements that allow for employee resource groups (ERGs) to have the greatest impact. Organizations must consider how to measure the success of their ERGs. Are they tied to your talent attraction and retention efforts? Do you look to ERGs for promotions, leadership abilities, etc.? Do you source ideas from your ERGs for innovation within your organization, like policies and procedures?
     
  4. ERGs and employee networks are all about deliberate action and driving culture. Jeff Dingle shared that accountability, matched with elaborate training and a culture of inclusive thought, is the deliberate action Jacobs is taking to drive culture further toward an inclusive environment.
     
  5. It is important to continue to drive research to understand the needs of each generation in the workplace. In a 2017 Deloitte study, it was apparent that many new professionals in the workforce no longer wanted to be seen from a one-dimensional perspective. Young professionals were looking for ways in which they could embrace their multi-dimensional characteristics, come together and create a more collaborative environment to learn from each other, share experiences and truly create an inclusive culture.   
     
  6. Waste Management's Tiana Carter emphasized organizations are reevaluating all aspects of business as a result of the pandemic. Take the step to consider a workforce evolution taskforce, comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, at different levels and different subject matter expertise, to evaluate the need to evolve an organization's business model, workforce, processes, procedures and pandemic response efforts. Be in a position where you are ready to act. You may not have all the answers right now, but transparency is more important and valuable for employees and team members. Be okay with the possibility of having to say, “we may not always get this right but we’re going to try.” It’s that effort that makes people want to go on a journey with you. 
     
  7. All diversity and inclusion efforts start with communication, transparency and accountability. It is important your inclusion and diversity strategy is based on the needs of the employees and what they want, versus what you think they may want and need. Work to understand your employees through courageous conversations at all levels, pulse point surveys, discussion forums and share the results.
     
  8. Attendees shared what an inclusive corporate culture should look like. It's where employees feel they can bring their true selves to work every day without the fear of being judged. Employees are completely comfortable to speak their mind, certain levels of leadership are in the room for D&I discussions and employees can speak comfortably without fear of retribution. Everyone has a voice and access to resources. 
     
  9. The distributed approach adopted by Matt Mullenweg's company Automattic gives employees a great deal of personal freedom and autonomy to get the job done in a space of their choosing and in their own way. “When people are really happy and fulfilled in the rest of their life, they bring their best self to work,” Mullenweg said. He interviews managers in his Distributed podcast to share best practices and he also shares his Distributed Work's Five Levels of Autonomy and encourages companies that can "enable their people to be fully effective in a distributed fashion can and should do it far beyond after this current crisis (the pandemic) has passed."
     
  10. Mullenweg shared there is a difference between remote and distributed work. "The work must get done. When you're in the early levels of distributed autonomy, the people who aren't in the office might actually be remote. They might be operating at 70-80% of someone who is there (in the office). That's a perfect opportunity to identify that and see what you need to do in how you hold meetings, how you communicate and operate to allow them to be fully productive." If you can operate decentralized and work in a distributed model, "you'll be primed to succeed in the coming decades." 

Learn more about the Partnership's Talent Resources Group here. Click here to learn more about the Partnership's work to advance racial equity and justice. 

Related News

Membership

Lawmakers Respond to Winter Storm Uri, Governor Prioritizes ERCOT Reform and Winterization

2/26/21
Week In Review Legislators' attention was focused squarely on the response to last week's severe winter weather. Legislative hearings are expected to continue with legislation to follow. Governor Abbott Responds to Winter Storm Governor Greg Abbott announced two additional emergency items for the legislature to prioritize this session. First, Governor Abbott identified the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) as a legislative priority and called on the legislature to investigate the decisions made by the state agency to find long-term solutions. Additionally, the Governor declared that winterization of Texas’ power system and related funding be added as an emergency item to ensure the reliability of the state's power infrastructure. In response to Winter Storm Uri, Governor Abbot requested that a Major Disaster Declaration be issued by the federal government, which would allow eligible Texans to apply for financial assistance related to property damage caused by the effects of the storm. President Joe Biden granted that request for nearly half of all Texas counties. Legislative Hearings on Electric Grid The Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce and the House joint State Affairs and Energy Resources Committees conducted two days of hearings to examine the conditions leading to the power loss during last week's winter storm. In a break with common practice and a sign of the importance of the topic, even Senators not serving on the committee were able to participate and ask questions. In both chambers, hearings were highly technical, digging into specifics of issues such as legal authority, and the operation of the power grid. Legislators asked tough questions of the witnesses, and witnesses provided substantive testimony. Vulnerabilities to extreme weather events were exposed throughout the system, from regulators to power plants to industry. Both chambers covered the historic nature of the conditions compared to prior winter weather events and peak summer demand. Legislators questioned ERCOT CEO, Bill Magness, and Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairwoman DeAnn Walker. Legislators asked questions ranging from decisions made before and during the storm to oversight authority and infrastructure winterization. Legislators also heard testimony from agency leaders, industry associations and individual companies from each segment of the sector's supply chain. Only one week after the storm, witnesses requested more time to conduct their root cause analyses of the events in order to provide recommendations on how to strengthen the electric grid. In many cases, the committees demanded those reports and recommendations be quickly provided to the Legislature. One suggestion that was widely supported by numerous witnesses is a statewide public alert system for the electric grid. More hearings are expected on this topic, with legislation to follow. Learn more about the Partnership’s Executive Priorities.
Read More

Related Events

Human Resources and Talent Event

2021 Rise to the Top

During this milestone 10th year anniversary for Rise to the Top, the Partnership's Women's Business Alliance (WBA) will proudly host captivating and candid conversations from outstanding women executives…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners