2023 ERG Impact Awards

Seramount part of EAB ERG Impact Awards 2023

For the past eight years, Seramount has recognized the important efforts of employee resource groups (ERGs) in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplaces and communities through our ERG Impact Awards, formerly known as the Above and Beyond Awards. Following an award timeline adjustment last year, we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the 2023 ERG Impact Awards winners and honorable mentions, recognizing their impactful ERG initiatives from January 2022 through June 2023.

We have implemented two new categories to make our Awards program more equitable and inclusive. The ERG Collaboration Award was established to intentionally celebrate intersectional collaborations and how the partnership between ERGs positively drives impact. The Trailblazer Award was created to better level and make the playing field equitable for ERGs who come from smaller organizations and/or are earlier in their ERG maturity while still having a meaningful impact despite their size, limited resources, and age since their initial ERG charter. Adding to our list of the existing Business Impact, Community Impact, Workplace Culture Impact, Workforce Impact, ERG Leadership, and Valued Ally categories, we’re thrilled to expand our recognition of remarkable ERG efforts.

In 2023, we received nearly 300 submissions across the eight categories. All submissions were part of a multistage review process conducted by judges who are diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners and thought leaders; subject-matter experts; and/or members of the Seramount team.

2023 ERG Impact Award Honorees

Thank you to every organization that took the time to highlight their ERGs and the important work that they continue to do. We hope that you will use what you learn from this year’s awardees to move the needle forward in your organizations. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!

Business Impact

Winner: Hispanic and Latino Organization for Leadership and Achievement (HOLA), Johnson & Johnson

Through combining research and personal experience, members of the Stelara marketing team and the Hispanic and Latino Organization for Leadership and Achievement (HOLA) ERG were able to address the unmet need for Hispanic patients that make up 20% of the US patient population with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Prior to this partnership, there was minimal culturally inclusive and relevant patient education on the biologic treatment options for this demographic. The HOLA ERG Advisory Council partnered with the STELARA® marketing team to enhance the existing marketing strategy with the goal of improving the cultural relevance to establish this medicine as the trusted partner in care for Hispanic patients.

A 360-degree review was conducted of the existing marketing strategy, and following a comprehensive list of recommendations, HOLA stepped in to ensure cultural representation and accurate translations. Phase I consisted of modifying the general market campaign based on Hispanic patient insights and delivering it in Spanish on channels where Hispanic patients consume information. Phase II consisted of a custom campaign for the Hispanic audience developed by proactively integrating cultural insights into a new campaign from the start. The campaign delivered on its goal to increase awareness for STELARA® among new inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patient audiences: Hispanic Audience Brand Awareness doubled from 8% to 16%. Starting as the fourth known brand among Hispanic patients, STELARA® rose to second in less than a year.

This initiative is a win for Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the STELARA® marketing team, HOLA’s Advisory Council, and most important, the Hispanic population of patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This success serves as a best-in-class example of Culturally Inclusive and Relevant (CIR) marketing with achieving a series of firsts:

By uncovering an underserved patient population and taking time to understand the specific needs of the community through an equitable and inclusive approach, the team raised awareness of STELARA® as a treatment option for diverse patients who could benefit the most. This campaign has demonstrated that elevating culturally inclusive and relevant marketing capabilities can be both a win for patients and a win for the business.

HOLA’s Advisory Council has continued to engage with our pharmaceutical teams, championing the importance of CIR marketing. HOLA has recently completed advising on the IMBRUVICA® campaign, and when not engaged directly in (or consulting on) a campaign, HOLA provides review and translation of prescribing information (PI), medication guides, instructions for use (IFU), and patient package inserts (PPI).

Honorable Mention: AMIGOS@Liberty + Allies, Liberty Mutual Insurance

With research pointing to Hispanic/Latino communities continuing to be underserved by the insurance industry, Liberty Mutual’s employee resource group, Amigos@Liberty, collaborated with volunteers from across the company to create a go-to market strategy for Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S. Through market research and cultural and business expertise, they created the Liberty Market Share Acceleration Strategy (Liberty MAS).

Focused on better serving Spanish-speaking communities, the group tested and launched a fully translated, end-to-end Spanish-language experience for their Certainly Renters product, which offers renters affordable and reliable insurance online. They also created educational tools, such as a “Renters Insurance Guide” that summarizes key elements of a policy contract in Spanish, modules on what Renters Insurance is and why it’s important, and renter collaboration tools.

To better support Spanish claims, the group customized the Liberty Mutual and Safeco landing pages in Spanish, seeing more than 44,000 unpaid visits and received over 2,400 leads generated in the first six months. They also established a bilingual Claims team to assign a bilingual adjuster within 24 hours. This collaborative effort led to less of a dependency on external translation/interpretation services and created opportunities for more than 50 employees in Claims and Customer Service to support Spanish-speaking customers.

Community Impact

Winner: AALC (African Ancestry Leadership Council), Johnson & Johnson

Expanding to 26 chapters in North America, EMEA, and Latin America, Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) African Ancestry Leadership Council (AALC) has delivered meaningful accelerated development programs for members and allies, developed internal and external strategic partnerships impacting the global community, and led efforts supporting J&J’s overarching ODE&I strategy. Throughout 2022 and 2023, AALC delivered more than 80 impactful community programs benefiting patients, parents, employees, and communities. This included 30+ global community health education awareness and health screening events to educate communities of color and provide access to life-saving tools. These programs featured renowned national and global health practitioners presenting on issues impacting the Black community, such as Maternal Mortality, Uterine Fibroids, Menopause/Sexuality, Breast Cancer, Depression, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple Myeloma, and Cardiovascular Health.

AALC worked with various external groups, focusing on partnerships as the genesis to accelerate DEI and impact patients. They engaged in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s first in-person Health Equity Summit while facilitating participation of other partner organizations, Silence the Shame and Hip-Hop Public Health, in the summit. The ongoing partnership amplified AALC’s Race to Health Equity and their efforts to eradicate racial health inequities for the Black community and focus on culturally competent care for impacted communities. AALC additionally partnered with the United Way, alongside various hospital systems and corporations, to provide health education, resources, and tools to support thousands of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families. The group also facilitated corporate partnerships with Deloitte, Amazon, and ICON to drive leadership within the Black community. This includes AALC’s and ICON’s Black Resilience programs that engaged 875 employees across both organizations in addressing challenges and potential solutions for global minorities in the healthcare landscape.

As AALC transforms talent and business processes to achieve equitable healthcare access and outcomes for all, the group will continue to deepen its impact on the global Black community through strong internal and external partnerships. They plan to expand upon existing programs to better serve diverse communities around the world while providing the broader community with education on health inequities and access to resources.

Honorable Mention: OLA (Organization for Latino Achievement), Bristol Myers Squibb

Through Bristol Myers Squibb’s environmental, social, and governance strategy, Organization for Latino Achievement (OLA) leverages STEM Education as a way to achieve equitable advancement for their community. OLA champions STEM education for equitable progress, driving their corporate social responsibility. Two levels guide OLA’s approach: 1) Promoting STEM education among middle and high school Latino/Hispanic students, and 2) Equipping Latino/Hispanic soon-to-be professionals for STEM roles in competitive industries.

At the core of OLA’s activities with Latino youth is OLA’s “Big Dreams Lab,” where OLA’s scientists, engineers, and more have contributed to experiment design, working stations, writing and translating manuals, and more to provide the experience of one day of work at BMS. Likewise, OLA has developed materials showcasing Latino STEM professionals to further inspire youths.

OLA partnered with Hispanics Inspiring Students Performance and Achievement (HISPA), a recipient of the Presidential Mentoring Medal, promoting education via role models, school visits, corporate visits, and parent guidance sessions in underserved Latino school districts. As a result of OLA’s efforts, more than 2,000 students received role model/school visits in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, and Florida. Likewise, more than 200 Trenton eighth graders participated in corporate visits, including a bilingual one, in which 94% reported aspiring to earn a bachelor’s degree and over 90% of parents reported additional clarity on their children’s education paths.

OLA also supported STEM jobseekers, offering workshops, mentoring, and support to raise their potential to be recruited. This included:

OLA plans to extend their STEM impact on the community by focusing on a few strategic areas, such as extending its role model program to schools in San Diego and the Bay area, expanding their partnership with Students 2 Science in New Jersey to provide Spanish-language STEM activities to students in English-as-a-Second-Language programs, and further developing its scientist mentoring program through partnerships with local chapters of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Workforce Impact

Winner: Hispanic-Latino Organization for Leadership & Advancement (HOLA), Bank of America

The Hispanic-Latino Organization for Leadership & Advancement (HOLA) is committed to making Bank of America the best place for Hispanic-Latino employees to grow professionally by fostering an inclusive work environment in line with the bank’s purpose and strategy. In 2022, HOLA had an increased focus on leadership development, education, and external partnerships while positively impacting talent recruitment, associate retention, and career advancement. To support the upward mobility of diverse talent, HOLA established two internal talent programs—the BRIDGE Experience and the Power of 10. The BRIDGE (Building Relationships for Innovation, Development, Growth and Empowerment) Experience connects and advances diverse leadership across the bank via workshops, tech training, coaching, mentoring, and more. The Power of 10 is a six-month program executed in partnership with the Hispanic-Latino Executive Council (HLEC) and designed with a unique focus on professional development & relationship building for Hispanic-Latino talent. HOLA expanded the reach of these two programs by 168%, engaging more than 400 HOLA members. As a result of the BRIDGE Experience, 93% of participants advanced their careers through expanded roles and responsibilities.

In addition, HOLA successfully maintained a mutually beneficial partnership with the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), whose mission is to empower and develop Latino individuals as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. With more than 116,000 professional and student members across the country, HOLA and ALPFA partnered on various opportunities while engaging local chapters in key markets to enhance professional, leadership, and career development for diverse students and professionals. HOLA contributed to ALPHA’s largest annual premium membership drives with over 500 registrations from Bank of America employees. Furthermore, HOLA leveraged the ALPFA National Convention to recruit top diverse talent for their eight lines of business.
 
HOLA’s collaborative efforts and support from 300+ executive sponsors and senior business leaders allowed them to achieve great success in 2022. Programming for their 20,000 members consisted of 384 events from 40 chapters across the globe. Their focus on talent recruitment, associate retention, and career advancement resulted in significant growth of Hispanic-Latino representation in the top three management levels as well as talent growth to more than 300+ executive roles. This, alongside their 10% membership growth, was accomplished by extending into Latin America and Europe and hosting trilingual events in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

HOLA plans to deepen their impact across the bank through their efforts in (1) Scaling their footprint and impact within Latin America, (2) Deepening their partnerships with the Hispanic Latino Executive Council (HLEC), and (3) Exploring partnerships with additional external partners that are solving relevant challenges for their communities.

Honorable Mention: Scotiabank Black Employee Network, Scotiabank

The Scotiabank Black Employee Network (SBEN) played a pivotal role in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion for Black employees at Scotiabank while extending support to the broader Black community. 2022 was an incredible year of growth and impact for SBEN, focusing on building a true sense of community for Black Scotiabankers and their allies, with approximately 2,800 members across various chapters.

One of the strategic workforce goals of SBEN was to improve the sense of belonging and increase the retention of Black employees at Scotiabank. Thus, SBEN launched the SBEN Buddy Program, pairing new Black hires (mentees) with experienced colleagues (buddies). The buddies provided guidance, mentorship, support, and networking opportunities to the mentees during their onboarding process. With more than 150 Black new-hire participants, the program achieved its goal of ensuring new hires felt valued, supported, and integrated into the Scotiabank team. This program significantly enhanced the sense of belonging among participants, resulting in an impressive 87% retention rate in addition to 80% of participants expressing willingness to continue serving as buddies for future new hires. The success and positive impact of the SBEN Buddy Program has served as a valuable tool for recruiting diverse talent and improving retention rates of Black employees, further driving Scotiabank’s goals of advancing diverse talent and building a diverse and inclusive workforce at all levels. Throughout 2022, SBEN faced many wins supporting four inclusion campaigns, five recruitment activations, and 15 educational events with 3,000 participants from across the employee footprint for their 2,800 core members.

Some of the many initiatives SBEN delivered in 2022 include Black History Month Programming, SBEN’s Bi-Monthly Newsletter, Emancipation Day and Christmas Learn and Love Celebrations, Mental Health Month Webcast Stop the Stigma webcast. Other activities include the Skill-up Speed Networking and Membership Series, Learning Circle Educational Series, Professional Development Series, Business Line Show and Tell, and Between the Lines Book Club Series. SBEN also facilitated monthly office hours drop-in sessions, the SBEN Buddy Program, the Scotiabank X U of T Mentorship Program, and the SBEN Executive Reverse Meeting. 

These initiatives were made possible by a passionate team of volunteers, who demonstrated authenticity, professionalism, and a strong commitment to being change agents. SBEN’s future endeavors aim to expand its impact on Scotiabank’s workforce through a comprehensive approach that includes building upon current focus areas while exploring new initiatives to address emerging challenges and opportunities.

Workplace Culture Impact

Winner: Open&Out, Johnson & Johnson

Open&Out is a global community of over five thousand LGBTQIA+ and ally colleagues working together to advance its mission of making Johnson & Johnson (J&J) the employer and healthcare company of choice for the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2022, Open&Out faced a difficult external landscape for LGBTQIA+ communities and an internal transition as its Consumer Health business (now known as Kenvue) separated from J&J. Amid this turbulence, Open&Out reinforced their commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month, continued to support and grow its 104 global chapters, and established a strong foundation for Open&Out within Kenvue.

In 2023, Open&Out sponsored and supported 17 parades globally—including one in collaboration with True Colors United NGO during the NYC Pride Parade—which engaged more than 4,000 J&J employees. Additionally, Open&Out fostered Pride Month engagement by raising Pride flags at 20+ campuses; hosting on-campus art displays, drag queen events, and fundraising for local LGBTQIA+ charities; garnering C-Suite participation; and supporting 19 Pride-related articles on their internal employee website with nearly 6,000 views.

Open&Out drove impressive membership growth and engagement globally as well. Overall, they increased membership by more than 14%, grew their ERG Yammer channel membership by 13%, and established eight new chapters in countries Open&Out had not previously had a presence, including Puerto Rico, Peru and Sweden. This engagement brought tangible culture changes to fruition, including advanced benefits and policies for LGBTQIA+ employees, such as same-sex partner benefits in China and Vietnam and instituting ‘Restrooms for All’ in South Africa and Argentina. Regionally, the group also launched the LGBTQIA+ 101 initiative in the United States to foster understanding and empathy for the community, developed an Ally Certification program in Latin America, and published guides for LGBTQIA+ employees considering international assignments in APAC. In the EMEA region, Out&Open positioned J&J as a leader in workplace inclusion through its signature of the Declaration of Amsterdam and sponsorship of EuroGames, Europe’s biggest sports event celebrating diversity in sexual orientation.

Internally, Open&Out partnered with Kenvue colleagues to transition and stand up leadership structure and programming to ensure support of the LGBTQIA+ community across both companies. This collaboration, alongside the broader teamwork between the Executive Committee sponsor, ERG Executive Leadership team, and Global and Regional Leadership Teams, truly highlights what makes Open&Out so impactful. The dynamic nature of Open&Out, along with the passion of its members and organization-wide support, demonstrates the potential of ERG initiatives on workplace culture. Collectively, these efforts have created safe spaces, allowed employees to be their authentic selves at work, and taught allies how to best support the global LGBTQIA+ community.

While planning for future impact, Out&Open will continue to focus on supporting their employees through spaces that ensure authentic expression and honest conversations, amplifying their business through J&J’s products and solutions that touch the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals, and advocating for the broader LGBTQIA+ community through external partnerships. They will also continue to look for new ways to intersectionally collaborate with fellow J&J ERGs to make a larger impact across communities—within and beyond J&J walls.

Honorable Mention: SAP Business Women’s Network

Throughout 2022-2023, SAP’s Business Women’s Network (BWN) set and achieved lofty goals. They aimed to support new-talent attraction, contribute to Diversity and Inclusion KPIs, foster an inclusive atmosphere at SAP, increase allyship, and foster internal and external collaborations.

BWN networked both internally and externally to host 400+ global events that united 26,000 employees with a 4.6-out-of-5 member satisfaction rating and hosted 60+ events for International Women’s Day 2022 that engaged 4,500 participants worldwide. That networking was also leveraged for leadership development. Their mentorship program had 40% member participation, the 2023 BWN Leadership Summit impacted 150+ global attendees, and their Take Charge workshops coached aspiring leaders. The group additionally launched #IamRemarkable self-development sessions, hosted “Hosted Headway Series” with SAP executives that inspired 3,000+ attendees with career development topics, and reached more than 1,000 participants in all career development workshops in 2022.

BWN further embodied their goals of “walking the talk” in which they forged more than 30 strategic external partnerships, won the UN Women Empowerment Principles, and presented at the EmERGe Conference for two consecutive years. They’ve impacted 2,000+ young girls through coding events and STEM initiatives in partnership with various Ministries of Education; partnered with Global Give Back Circle, which aided underprivileged girls in Africa, India, and China; and had a 50% funding increase to support 15 additional university and high school girls. BMW launched their “HeForShe” campaign featuring executive support of women empowerment and male allyship and overall achieved 15% male participation in all BWN events and initiatives.

BWN also celebrated many wins by hosting networking lunches, a Bring Your Kids to Work Day, and U-Show program for employees to highlight talents as well as launching a #sapbwn LinkedIn campaign that grew followers by 73% and achieved 10,000 imprints. The group fostered internal relations by collaborating with other SAP ERGs and having community calls with HR, Diversity & Inclusion, and SAP executives.

Through these BWN initiatives, SAP saw noticeable changes in Diversity and Inclusion metrics and earned awards like Best Place to Work for Women in multiple countries. The increase in metrics includes:

The SAP BWN plans to continue this momentum in the coming years while focusing on regional growth, membership increase, impactful events and partnership, and amplified marketing and communications. The group aims to elevate their impact, expand their influence, and foster a more inclusive and empowered environment for women at SAP and beyond.

Trailblazer

Winner: Access ERG, Unity

The Access ERG at Unity (NYSE: U), the world’s leading platform of tools for creators to build and grow real-time games, apps, and experiences across multiple platforms, was founded with a vision to create a safe, supportive, and inclusive workplace for team members with disabilities or neurological divergences so that all employees have equal opportunities and rewarding careers. Despite being a new resource group, Unity’s Access ERG adeptly navigated internal dynamics to effectively represent their constituents, yielding remarkable results in their inaugural year.

Amid the challenges posed by the pandemic, the group seized the opportunity to enact meaningful, tangible change on behalf of its community. Starting with small yet strategic initiatives like enabling and raising awareness of Zoom live transcript features, the Access ERG created a more comfortable and effective work environment for its hearing-impaired, neurodiverse, and non-native English-speaking colleagues. This blossomed into a more robust awareness campaign, culminating in a learning library of accessibility-oriented documentation in formats ranging from:

Access ERG’s efforts extended to advocating for inclusive and accessible language and communication practices, leading to a significant overhaul of company-wide standards. All Unity standards were audited to align, resulting in 99 of 194 standards changed for sight and ability language, along with 17 of 194 standards changed for disability language. More than half of Unity’s standards were revised to better address sight- and ability-based language, along with 10% of modifications for disability language. This achievement underscores the ERG’s dedication and its capacity to drive impactful change from the ground up, ultimately influencing top-down actions within the organization.

The ERG’s focus remains on cultivating a supportive workplace culture, with recent efforts directed at addressing accessibility gaps exacerbated by the pandemic’s remote work shift. As some employees return to offices, the ERG is proactively collaborating with various teams to ensure a smooth transition, particularly focusing on supporting neurodiverse and disabled employees with accessibility improvements. Post-return to office, the ERG plans to amplify their impact in areas such as business, community, and workforce.

Honorable Mention: Middle Eastern North African ERG, AAA – The Auto Club Group

The Middle Eastern North African (MENA) ERG has significantly impacted various aspects of business, community, workforce, and workplace culture. Through initiatives such as promoting education and professional development opportunities and fostering partnerships with community organizations, MENA has showcased their commitment to equity and inclusion while promoting awareness of the richness and diversity of Middle Eastern/North African cultures.

The ERG’s involvement in community events such as the Arab-American Civil Rights League “Fight for Justice” Gala enhanced The Auto Club Group’s brand and market share within the MENA community. Likewise, MENA’s collaboration with the company’s Marketing Department in promoting solidarity and support of women’s rights through 1,900-by-800-foot digital light murals paid public tribute to inspirational women of Iran as faces of bravery, courage, and strength. The murals were displayed on the exterior of the company’s Dearborn headquarters near a major, highly traveled expressway, broadly reaching an estimated 150,000 expressway drivers daily. The MENA ERG also deepened its relationship with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), the largest Arab American community nonprofit, to support the diverse recruitment efforts. They also teamed up with the company’s Public Affairs Department to establish a partnership with the Zaman Foundation to enhance employee volunteers’ cultural competency while funding and distributing dinner boxes to families in need. Families reported how the dinner boxes helped them get through the two-week December break.

Internally, the MENA ERG has impacted the corporate culture and facilitated cultural awareness through initiatives like fundraising for earthquake relief in Turkey and Syria, educating and inviting employees to participate in World National Hijab Day, and offering a series of professional/personal development webinars for employees. The MENA ERG also enhanced employee cultural competency by partnering with Amanda Saab, MasterChef contestant and the chef behind Amanda’s Plate, to host a virtual cooking class in recognition of Ramadan in 2023. Highlighting the impact of these initiatives, the MENA ERG doubled its membership base in 2022 while four MENA ERG leads received promotions.

Looking ahead, MENA’s priorities include empowering members through talent acquisition, networking, and professional development while also increasing awareness of MENA cultures. They aim to expand community involvement, increase membership, and promote cultural diversity through newsletters and cultural events.

ERG Collaboration

Winner: Black Organization for Leadership and Development, Organization for Latino Achievement, and Pan Asian Network, Bristol Myers Squibb

In 2021, Bristol Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Black Organization for Leadership and Development (BOLD), Organization for Latino Achievement (OLA), and Pan Asian Network (PAN) PBRGs, collectively known as BOP, initiated a new Health Equity program to enhance diversity in BMS’s clinical trials. The BOP Health Equity program leverages the cultural expertise of the BOP collective—while addressing the individual concerns of each population—into a single initiative that is simultaneously cross-cultural and tightly tailored to a racially and ethnically diverse audience. BOP partnered with internal and external groups to address community needs across key areas: Community Outreach & Trust Building, Patient Education and Insights, and Diverse Clinical Trial Enrollment.

BOP’s community outreach efforts focused on fostering trust with local leaders, working with historically excluded communities. To bolster patient education and insights, BOP financed educational materials delivered by trusted advocates and sponsored academic and patient advocacy forums addressing health disparities. Finally, to directly promote diverse clinical trial enrolment, BOP sponsored activities that supported the development of diverse and inclusive clinical trial workforce and a patient community aware of the options that clinical trials represent.

From January 2022 to June 2023, BOP achieved the following milestones:
Community Outreach & Trust Building

Patient Education & Insights

Diverse Clinical Trial Enrollment:

The BOP collective with be sharing the lessons learned to the other five BMS PBRGs as they all expand their Health Equity portfolios. So far, BMS’s Millennial and Next Generations PBRG (CLIMB) and veteran network (VCN), have started to plan their initiatives to expand clinical trial diversity. As each PBRG brings its unique expertise to the common passion, these next steps will be a further accelerator of BMS’s Diversity in Clinical Trial efforts.

Honorable Mention: BLK Catalyst, Women@Work, Asian Resources of Kohler (ARK), VIVA, Namaste, HeadsUP, BOLD Ability, Kohler PROUD, Young Professionals of Kohler (YPK), and KAVS, Kohler Co.

The inaugural Kohler Women’s Leadership Summit (KWLS) was a two-half-day virtual summit featuring high-quality, professional learning and development opportunities for all genders. While the idea for this company-wide summit originated from the BLK Catalyst BRG, the theme of “Authenticity” resonated across all of Kohler’s BRG communities in which the summit became a collaborative effort across all of the company’s BRGs. Reinforcing the importance of inclusive representation, a Planning Committee encompassing all BRGs met weekly to review the project plan, approve content, and leverage several business units for further collaboration on the summit. Despite the project’s commencement, inclusivity remained a priority, with newly launched BRGs such as BOLD Ability and ARK joining the effort and receiving direct representation on the committee.

Globally available to Kohler associates, the event provided attendees with the resources, networking opportunities, and tools to aid in developing skills for high-achieving leadership roles within the organization. The summit included a curated lineup of speakers in dialogue with Laura Kohler, along with seminars, development workshops, results-driven tools, and networking events built around the theme of authenticity. The summit invited attendees to ask “What is your voice, and what can you do to enhance it?” to distinguish leaders who inspire trust and confidence in their peers and high-performing teams. In addition to professional development, the summit incorporated a stewardship component, including a professional clothing drive collecting 1,868 items for a local nonprofit called Bottomless Closet. The initiative also raised $1,680 for the international non-profit Dress for Success, whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and development tools.

The summit, which featured 28 speakers, attracted more than 1004 attendees from 17 countries, surpassing the initial goal by 34%. Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with an overall learning experience score of 4.59/5. Externally, the event garnered significant traction and engagement metrics from associates sharing their experiences on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Internally, engagement was fostered through a Kudoboard platform to build community and connection throughout the event.

Following the summit, engagement continued through the KWLS Community Channel on Microsoft Teams. Monthly coffee chats have further facilitated member engagement since October 2022. The learnings from KWLS have also influenced the creation of various programming by BRGs, focusing on topics such as personal branding, online presence, and allyship training.

ERG Leadership

Winner: Nataly Manjarrez Orduno, Global Lead, OLA: Organization for Latino Achievement PBRG, Bristol Myers Squibb

The Organization for Latino Achievement (OLA), one of Bristol Myers Squibb’s (BMS) eight People and Business Resource Groups (PBRG), drives business performance by focusing on the Latino workforce, patients, and strategic partners. Nataly Manjarrez-Orduño, Ph.D. has been the OLA’s Global Lead since 2021, in which she has merged her scientific background with her passion for the role that diversity and inclusion play in delivering transformative medicines to patients.

Under Nataly’s leadership, OLA drives meaningful business outcomes. This includes launching a mentoring program for job-seeking scientists, creating network of Latino executives who mentor and coach emerging leaders, partnering with R&D to advance our GI&D and Health Equity Commitment of increasing diversity in clinical trials.

Nataly’s primary goal was to transform OLA from disparate activities into a strategic powerhouse. This shift facilitated the recruitment of new OLA volunteers aligned with business objectives. Her strategy established a unified vision encompassing strategic alignment, ROI, resource optimization (people, and intersectional execution. Under Nataly’s leadership, OLA has evolved into a dynamic organization where professionalized business functions, spanning analytics, communications, and talent acquisition drive data-informed decisions and insights that fuel the PBRG’s business plan.

Empowered by this approach, more volunteers began contributing to business goals through OLA efforts. Since implementing the new strategy in 2022, OLA’s membership surged by 32% in 18 months. OLA also went global with OLA America Latina and OLA Europa chapters and launched active chapters at each of BMS’s USA sites. 

Notably, OLA’s enhanced business impact fueled a 300% rise in active members supporting the strategy. This elevated engagement facilitated OLA’s transition from one-off activities to structured programs with defined objectives. OLA’s evolved approach was exemplified by a new mentoring initiative for external Latino scientists and Health Equity initiatives that included Latino patient-focused research and community health educator funding.

OLA’s new OLA Network of Executives (ONE) enhanced BMS’s visibility to global Latino leaders. Since 2022 ONE has hosted 15+ global career conversations, promoted BMS’s Latino representation goals externally, and created an external Latino executive outreach network with more than 80 members. 

Under Nataly’s leadership, OLA positioned BMS as a socially responsible partner to the Latino community, impacting more than 10,000 students in STEM education outreach across California, Texas, Florida, New York, and New Jersey. OLA’s efforts earned the HISPA Inspire Award for community service, spotlighting BMS’s commitment to positive change. OLA’s elevated impact exemplifies Nataly’s leadership. Looking ahead, OLA members are driven to continue shaping communities of transformative change and dedication to a legacy of positive transformation for future generations.

Honorable Mention: Angela Martin, Board Chair, ABLE: A Better Lenovo for Everyone, Lenovo

A Better Lenovo for Everyone (ABLE), one of Lenovo’s ERGs, advocates for accessibility for those with disabilities and neurodivergence. Angela Martin is a User Experience (UX) Designer at Lenovo, a certified Humane Technologist, and Board Chair of ABLE. Growing up neurodivergent herself, and surrounded by loved ones with various disabilities, Angela is driven by the understanding of what human-centered technology and advocacy can do for others, in which she brings that passion into her leadership in ABLE. She has met with key stakeholders to advocate for improved accessibility in Lenovo branding guidelines, workplace culture, hiring practices, and campuses.

As Board Chair, Angela founded and oversaw three committees: Events and Community Impact, Communications, and Education and Advocacy. Since joining ABLE, she has driven growth of more than 330% from 2022 to 2023 raising membership from 108 members to 470+. She also secured the ERG’s first funding pledge as the executive sponsor board grew from one to four members. On ABLE’s site, Angela shares stories of employees with disabilities and tips on making the workplace more inclusive. A recent ABLE initiative resulted in improved accessibility for various doors at each of Lenovo’s buildings.

Within ABLE, Angela hosts events such as an annual inclusive concept showcase with Lenovo’s Product Diversity Office (PDO) and helps to promote trainings such as making accessible PowerPoints and meetings. She frequently collaborates with HR, another ERG, People with Disabilities in AP and EMEA, and the PDO to bring global events to life such as Lenovo’s celebration of International Day of People with Disabilities. ABLE has also partnered with the PDO and the Governor Moorehead School for the Blind for an annual Mentorship and Learning Day. Angela hosted a panel in which employees spoke about having a STEM career with disabilities, followed by mentoring sessions between students and ABLE members. Students had the opportunity to attend workshops and provide feedback on technologies in which their insights were used to improve Lenovo products and services for customers with disabilities.

Working with researchers and accessibility experts, Angela developed a mobile empathy lab to help develop understanding for customers with disabilities. In collaboration with diversely inclusive user research and expert reviews, the Accessibility Learning Module helps product development teams to improve accessibility considerations and allows for deeper discussions to be had with those who experience disabilities themselves. Utilizing audiovisual impairment simulator software, motor impairment simulator gloves, and visual impairment simulator glasses, abled folks can simulate using Lenovo products with disabilities. This empathy lab allowed executives to experience what having physical disabilities may be like, garnering deeper empathy for those with disabilities.

Angela is a strong thought leader and change agent. She compels others to act with empathy, awareness, and clear goals, reminding folks that they are only “temporarily abled” and should care for others. The passion that Angela puts into ABLE activities, like developing workstreams that support employees with disabilities, truly complements her everyday work as a UX designer and who she is as an overall professional.

Valued Ally

Winner: Karen Kramer Horning, Executive Director, Human Resources, Ionis Pharmaceuticals

Karen Kramer Horning is a consistent champion and valued ally for ERGs at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, both inside and outside the organization. As a human resource professional, Karen Kramer Horning has worked with companies from a variety of industries at all stages of their development. For the past five years, she has led the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts for Ionis Pharmaceuticals as the Executive Director of Human Resources.

Deeply investing in Ionis’ ERGs, Karen secured a dedicated ERG budget in 2022 to allow for more flexibility, creativity, and efficiency on ERG events and expenditures. She also secured financial recognition for ERG leaders through the organization’s internal spot bonus program to compensate them for their invaluable work. Karen additionally spearheaded Ionis’ inaugural ERG Summit on National ERG Day in November 2022, allowing ERGs to showcase their groups during an all-employee lunch at the organization’s main campus, have virtual drop-in meetings for remote employees, and participate in Seramount ERG partner intensive.

Karen further worked with employee leaders to help form three new ERGs at Ionis. The organization’s Veteran’s ERG, New Employee Opportunity Network (NEON) ERG, and Black/LatinX Employee Networking and Development (BLEND) ERG were launched under Karen’s guidance. With her help, the ERGs were able to engage an impactful executive sponsor, determine their missions and charters, create early communications to solicit members, and lead new events and activities. These three new ERGs, along with Ionis’s preexisting six ERGs, are all thriving with Karen’s endless support and advocacy.

In 2022, Karen also formed and launched Ionis’ first DEI Advisory Council, leading three meetings with the CEO that provided council members with executive-level visibility and resulted in tangible outcomes. This includes the CEO signing the Mass Bio Pledge for a more inclusive life science industry, the approval of a new family care benefit, and the implementation of mandatory DEI training for the executive leadership team. On an annual basis, Karen provides DEI updates to the organization’s executive-level Operating Committee. For the first time in March 2023, she was invited to share DEI updates to the Ionis Board of Directors, which has turned into an annual practice.

Karen’s contributions to ERG efforts foster an inclusive culture, especially during an organizational growth phase where retention and recruitment are imperative. Employee engagement overall increased in the 2023 survey, with 84% of employees reporting favorable engagement on DEI index questions. Employee retention increased and the organization effectively recruited its most diverse workforce. In 2022, 57% of 216 total new hires were women, and 47% were people of color. Karen has been a true DEI champion at Ionis as her efforts resulted in thriving ERGs with diverse executive sponsors, robust DEI programming for cultural awareness, multiple Heritage Month celebrations, cohesive internal and external communications in partnership with corporate affairs, and speaking opportunities and awards that bring internal and external visibility to ERG programs.

Honorable Mention: Niko Radjenovic, Executive Sponsor, BLAC, Wildlife Conservation Society

Niko Radjenovic, Vice President of Business Services at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), directs the operation, financial management, and strategic planning, food service, catering, and retailing for the organization’s five parks. Despite these responsibilities, Niko immediately volunteered to serve as Executive Sponsor for the BLAC (Black Leadership Advancement Consortium) ERG.

Under Niko’s guidance, the BLAC achieved many of their goals. Niko used his role and influence within the organization to consistently encourage his expansive team and executive peers to join BLAC, helping the group increase membership by 70%. Furthermore, Niko was instrumental in enabling BLAC to present several organization-wide events, helping the ERG achieve their long-term goal to celebrate Black culture, educate allies, and create a greater sense of belonging for Black people within WCS. With Niko’s help, BLAC procured and raised Pan African-American flags throughout all five WCS parks during Black History Month and strategically partnered with internal food services to offer cultural foods during in-person “Sippin’ Tea with B.L.A.C” luncheons at the Bronx Zoo and NY Aquarium. Niko also offered the business case to WCS’s leadership team for virtual “Courageous Conversations” on common issues in the professional Black community.

Niko continuously strategizes with the CDO to expand the WCS leadership knowledge base to better support ERGs and the business. He successfully influenced senior leadership to provide each ERG coleader with both professional development and $3,000 as incentives. Furthermore, Niko played an active role in launching a Supplier Diversity program. He leveraged his position as the lead policymaker for outside vendors by having his operating departments present on a “How to do Business with WCS” panel for certified diverse vendors. He encouraged ERGs to identify registered and certified diverse vendors on WCS’s supplier diversity portal for networking and commemorative events. The BLAC ERG then utilized a certified diverse minority-owned vendor to present products at their Black History Luncheon. As a result, support for WCS’s supplier diversity program was reinforced across all ERGs.

Though Niko was originally identified as the executive sponsor for BLAC, Niko evolved into an essential ally to all WCS ERGs. When the iWILD! (Welcoming Inspiring Latin Diversity) ERG struggled with budget constraints for their Cafecitos event, Niko leveraged his leadership role to support the group to have in-house food services prepare various cultural foods for 1,000 employees. Separately, Niko worked with the QUEER (Queer People Uniting to Expand Equity and Respect) ERG to help operationalize WCS’s first public-facing Pride weekend in 2023 and to navigate WCS approvals and purchasing for Pride flag raisings. Additionally, he shares his expertise with ERG co-leads, coaching them on making presentations, crafting inclusive language, and drafting financial proposals for events. These, among other examples, demonstrate the way Niko has embodied allyship in his Executive Sponsor role and supported the mission of all WCS ERGs.