Best Practices

Employee Resource Groups Best Practices for Hourly Employees

February 2017

This report examines the business case for engaging hourly employees in Employee Resource Groups and strategies that some companies are employing to make employee resource groups and their activities accessible to hourly employees.

The Business Case for ERG Engagement of Hourly Employees

• Low pay and limited training and development opportunities contribute to poor retention in retail settings
• US unemployment is down which has increased the competition for hourly workers in retail and other industries
• Hourly workers are often isolated and cut off from salaried employees and managers
• Lack of flexibility and not enough work hours are big drivers of turnover in the hourly workforce

Challenges to ERG Engagement

• Retail-based structure and wide geographic spread makes it difficult to engage hourly employees and sustain their involvement in diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives
• The voluntary nature of employee resource groups (ERG) means hourly workers are often not paid for the time they dedicate to the group
• Turnover leaves ERG leaders having to continuously re-start the process of engaging new employees

ERG Engagement increases Retention

In a survey of hourly workers in the US, the top factors contributing to employee engagement were:
• Job security (63%)
• Compensation/pay (62%)
• Communication between employees and managers (59%)
• Benefits (56%)
• Opportunities to use skills and abilities (55%)
• Performance recognition (55%)

DBP Members Weigh in on Hourly ERG Participation

• 95% of Diversity Best Practice (DBP) members polled have non-exempt employees who participate in affinity groups or ERGs
• 90% of those companies do not restrict the amount of hours a non-exempt employee can volunteer for an affinity group
• In 75% of the companies, hourly employees can lead affinity groups
• 58% do not pay hourly employees for work associated with their affinity group participation
• 60% do not have formal policies regarding the participation of non-exempt employees in company affinity groups
• 60% do not allow non-exempt employees to engage in ERG activities during company time

Engagement Strategies for Hourly Employees

• Provide hourly employees a set number of hours they can tap into to participate in D&I events and ERG activities:

– Prerequisites for using those hours may require that the hourly worker is in
good standing and has met or exceeded performance goals
– Employees may be required to provide managers with advance notice to
ensure coverage
– Managers may reserve right to deny or cancel approval if there is not sufficient coverage in employee’s absence
• Establish goals and measures related to hourly employee participation in D&I and ERG activities as part of performance evaluation
• Provide coaching and guidance to hourly employees to foster an understanding and appreciation of how D&I involvement impacts career development and overall business outcomes
• Make D&I part of the employee development process by providing ongoing
opportunities for training and development and mentoring
• Leverage employee participation and experience in D&I and ERG activities to develop diverse talent and prepare the next generation of company leadership
• Ensure D&I events and ERG activities provide opportunities for cross-functional leadership, cross-functional project planning, and community engagement

Find Innovative Ways to Connect ERG’s

Quick Stats:
• 8 in 10 of US hourly workers carry smartphones
• 7 in 10 own some sort of tablet
• 8 in 10 are on Facebook; nearly 50% are on Twitter and Instagram, and
32% use LinkedIn

Hourly workers are ‘connected’ and tech savvy—just not in the workplace:
• Most US hourly workers are disconnected from corporate laptops and
• Only half have a company email account
• 37% of hourly workers report their employer communicates policies and
procedures via their personal email account; 15% via text message, and
16% via Facebook groups

Target: Engagement of Hourly Employees

• Over 10,000 Target team members participate in D&I employee business councils, many of whom are hourly employees
• Councils provide onboarding, networking, and professional development opportunities for members
• The councils represent six groups: African American; Asian American; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally; Hispanic; Military; and Women
• More than 100 additional networks have been created by Target team members who share common interests or goals

Target: Linking D&I to Sales Events and Branding

• Each year Target’s African American Business Council (AABC) organizes and sponsors events during Black History month to raise cultural awareness – these events also enhance brand
• In 2016, the AABC played a major role in the highly visible unveiling of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture
• Other activities during the month included a lineup of speakers
and performers, merchandise for guests, and a volunteer outing to a local elementary school that featured books available in the Target collection
• At several company locations, the AABC showcased exhibits of contemporary artwork and Target products of the past and present, featuring African-American designers and partners

Walmart: Engagement of Hourly Employees

All entry-level US associates participate in ‘Pathways’ training
for the first six months of employment – including hourly
• Pathways focuses on building skills and knowledge to facilitate faster career progression in retail
• Upon completion, associates receive an immediate pay increase and are presented information regarding career path options
• Metrics are used to track turnover, productivity and engagement of associates completing the Pathways program
• The Walmart ‘Develop 2 Lead’ mentoring program requires more than 70,000 managers to mentor at least two associates
• These efforts have paid off: more than 75% of Walmart’s US salaried store and club managers began as hourly associates

Walmart Employee Resource Groups

African American Business Resource Group
• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and Straight Ally Associate Resource Group
• Women’s Resource Council
• Hispanic Latino Associate Resource Group
• Asian Pacific Associates Network
• Native American and Alaskan Native Resource Group
• Advocates for Disability Awareness and Education

Walmart: D&I, Social Justice and Company Brand

• Walmart’s Veterans Welcome Home Commitment guarantees a job offer to any US veteran who has been honorably discharged
• Company leadership publicly opposed Arkansas House Bill 1228 in
defense of the rights of the LGBT community; the company also sponsors and participates in numerous national, regional and local activities in support of the LGBT community
• Walmart was a founding sponsor of the Disability Equality Index; in 2016 the company received a perfect score for disability inclusion policies and practices
• The company’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative trains women around the world on farms and in factories, providing critically needed technical and life skills
• It’s Women in Factories Training Program develops life skills related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths, and gender sensitivity
• Walmart convenes regular Town Hall meetings to address issues of concern in the communities it serves

CVS: Colleague Resource Groups

• CRGs are constructed around nationality and race, LGBT, health and wellness, veterans, younger generations, people with disabilities, and family-focused groups, among others
• Enterprise-wide mentoring program which is available to all CRGs
• Colleague Connect online platform that can be accessed by employees using work or personal email address

CVS: Communication and Messaging Strategy

• The company established a library of resources that include
presentations, flyers, and step-by-step guidelines that outline every aspect of the CRG program, from business-plan templates, to member roles, to communication forms
• The company intranet hosts a calendar of CRG events which are open to all employees, including hourly workers
• An all-colleague newsletter regularly communicates the benefits of
• Closed-circuit TVs in corporate offices display CRG key messages
• Posters in each of CVS’ 7,600 stores nationwide display information about CRGs
• In-store posters also have QR codes which hourly employees can scan with their smartphones, directing them to a site where they can get more information about CRGs and how to get involved

CVS: CRG Structure and Leadership

• All members of the company’s Executive Steering Committee, including the CEO and direct reports, sponsor Colleague Resource Groups (CRGs)
• CRG sponsors are asked to commit to the role for two years
• The Diversity Leadership Management Council is comprised of 15 senior leaders from around the company, at the VP level and above
• The Strategic Diversity Management Department (SDM) team provides support and guidance to CRGs to ensure mission and goals are aligned with the broader organizational diversity management strategy
• The SDM team is responsible for tracking metrics to ensure accountability and to help support activism and membership
• SDM team members hold monthly meetings with CRG leaders; serve as a liaison for the CRG with other stakeholders; approve annual funding; drive branding and communication, and facilitate succession planning for CRG sponsors and chairs

CVS: Solutions to Engagement Challenges

Company used communications and messaging strategies in response to the ‘what’s in it for me’ challenge raised by part-time hourly workers:

– Visibility and access to senior management
– Opportunity to interact with other business units and employees
– Skill building and career development, particularly for employees who take on role of chapter chair or committee lead
– Ongoing training and development opportunities
– Cultural competency skill development
– Opportunities for mentorships
– Enhanced reward and recognition

Nordstrom: Engaging with Hourly Employees

• D&I training begins day one—including for hourly workers
• Diversity related retention rates are a primary factor in manager performance evaluations
• During Black History and Hispanic Heritage months, retail stores display the work of diverse artists from around the country—these events promote public goodwill, create cultural awareness, and enhance company brand

Nordstrom: Impacting the Diversity Supply Chain

• The Nordstrom diversity program is dedicated to working with women and minority vendors
• 18-24 months before entering a new market or doing a remodel or refit, the company goes into that community and meets with women and minority vendors and suppliers to discuss opportunities to partner
• Regional directors maintain relationships with diverse vendors and suppliers, and keep the retailer in step with the demographics and needs of the local communities it serves


• Selling points for hourly employee participation in ERG’s include
opportunities for training and development and gaining new skills and competencies, which can lead to promotion and career advancement
• Voluntary membership on an employee resource group can also be leveraged as offering visibility and exposure for hourly workers that that they may not otherwise have
• For big retailers, employee resource groups are regionally based
and therefore should reflect regional geographic and demographic diversity, versus being tied solely to gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation

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