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Top 5 actions for engaging executive sponsors

Executive sponsors can play a critical role when it comes to supporting and empowering employee resource groups (ERGs). As senior business leaders, executive sponsors help to advise the ERG’s strategy, purpose, and activities, as well as advocate for the ERG at the leadership table. Executive sponsors can also help to make the workplace more inclusive by championing ERG-friendly policies and encouraging other senior leaders to be involved in ERGs. Below are the top five actions ERG leaders should consider when engaging an executive sponsor:

1. Identify senior leaders who are aligned to your ERG

Look for executives who have shown a commitment to DEI initiatives. Research their public statements, past initiatives, and involvement in related projects. Identifying a leader who shares a passion for your ERG’s mission can increase the likelihood of genuine support.

2. Prepare a business case

Present the business case of ERGs and highlight the ways that ERGs add value to the organization, such as by helping to increase employee engagement, retention, and support organizational goals and transformation. It’s also important to highlight how being an executive sponsor can help senior leaders expand their own understanding of underrepresented groups and diverse identities.  

3. Leverage existing relationships and networks

Utilize connections within your network to facilitate an introduction. A mutual connection can provide credibility and a personal endorsement, making senior leaders more likely to take your proposal more seriously. Don’t be afraid to engage senior leaders outside of your immediate network or team; while HR or talent leaders may seem like an obvious first choice for an ERG sponsor, engaging leaders in core functions such as product development, marketing, or finance can be an impactful way to expand your ERG’s influence and build valuable relationships with leaders and colleagues across the organization.

4. Showcase your ERG’s purpose and goals

Share your ERG’s charter and strategy, goals, and purpose, and the strategic role an executive sponsor plays in helping to guide, advise, and perpetuate these at a high level. Make sure to align your goals to those of the organization, leveraging data and metrics (where applicable and available) to demonstrate impact.

5. Be clear about expectations

Senior leaders often juggle a number of responsibilities and can have very busy schedules. For this reason, when engaging with senior leaders it’s important to lay out clear expectations around their role as an executive sponsor, the time commitment, cadence of meetings, and level of involvement. Aligning on expectations upfront can help to promote greater accountability for both ERG leaders and executive sponsors.

Ergtopia team
Jul 4, 2024

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