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Localize your ERG impact

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) play a vital role in fostering workplace inclusion and supporting organizational transformation. By providing a safe space for shared experiences, professional and personal growth, and community building, ERGs can have a tremendously positive impact on the organization’s culture and success—both at the global and local levels. For many multinational organizations, balancing the global and local impact of ERGs can be challenging, as local needs and interests can vary greatly by geography and culture, requiring a unique strategy and roadmap. Below are five strategies organizations can deploy to help maximize the local impact of their global ERG programs. 

1. Understand local contexts and cultures

Localizing ERGs starts with a deep understanding of the cultural, social, and economic contexts of each location. This may involve conducting research on local customs, workplace norms, policies, and employee demographics in order to help make sure ERG efforts are aligned and well received. Conducting interviews with local employees and business leaders can be an effective and valuable way to gain a deeper understanding of local contexts and employee needs and sensitivities. 

2. Engage and empower leadership

Empowering local leaders to support and advocate for ERGs is a critical component to any localization strategy. This includes identifying leaders who may be potential candidates for ERG sponsor roles, educating them on the purpose and value of ERGs, and equipping them with the necessary tools and resources to advocate for ERGs at the local leadership table (e.g., slides and talking points). 

3. Tailor your communication strategy

To maximize the local impact of ERGs, communications should be tailored to the needs and expectations of the local employee population. Ask yourself the following questions: Do materials need to be translated? How are certain words or phrases received given the local cultural context? How can we reframe or reposition global messaging to be more locally relevant? Is our messaging too US centric?  

Where possible, connect with local internal communications teams to vet and review all communications. This will help to make sure that all communications materials are not only relevant and appropriate, but tailored to the local audience. 

4. Offer flexible programming 

ERGs should offer a mix of global and local programming. At the global level, programming should be high level and generic enough to be relevant and applicable globally; at the local level, programming should speak to the interests and needs of the local employee population, taking into account local policies, cultural norms, and challenges. 

5. Develop a local impact strategy

While a global ERG strategy is necessary, developing local impact strategies is a critical step in maximizing the local impact of ERGs. Local strategies should build upon the foundation of the global strategy, but take into account local contexts and employee needs. One way to do this is to connect with local ERG leaders and/or executive sponsors to get feedback and input on how best to engage local employees. Serving as a local “ERG council,” this group can help to inform the local strategy and even take ownership of implementing where feasible, feeding back valuable insights to the global ERG program team. If there are local HR or DE leaders, these individuals can also play an important role in developing and executing a local impact strategy.

Ian Waltman
Jul 4, 2024

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