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To tap into underserved but potentially lucrative markets NO.1 Stiles said constructing teams that reflect demographics of the client base improves cus- tomer loyalty because those clients feel more comfortable doing busi- ness with people who understand them. “When we go out into the public, the only thing we really have to sell is our people. What becomes very critical is how our people look to our client base out here. If we send out a group of over- 50, white, straight guys—no offense to the over-50, white, straight guys in the audience—and the clients we are pitching are comprised of people from different ethnic groups or subgroups and a wide variety of genders, we don’t look so good and we don’t look so smart. One of the things that we are implementing to drive our ERGs when we go out and talk to clients is [considering] ‘What does that team look like? How are we composing our teams so that hey match the individuals we will be interacting with on a day-to-day basis?’” Stiles also said KPMG used its ERGs to help increase its percent- age of spend with diverse suppliers, particularly people with disabilities and in the LGBT community. Fernandez said ERGs are playing an increasingly important role in helping companies connect with a diverse customer base. For example, when JCPenney was preparing to pen a store in a location where
nearly 65 percent of the population
was Asian, the company’s ERGs and
field councils were instrumental in
providing the retailer with access
to better consumer insights because
they understood the cultural nuances firsthand.
“For Asian consumers, it’s very
important from a respect perspective that you count the money back,”
Fernandez said. “How many times
have you purchased something and
someone says, ‘Here is your change’?
But from an Asian perspective,
if you are really going to respect
that customer and treat them the
way they want to be treated, it’s
very important that you count the
money back,” he said.
To assist in successfully
onboarding new hires
ERG members can help new employees get comfortable during the onboarding process, a critical period of adjustment for people from traditionally underrepresented groups. Studies show that the first 60 to 90 days of employment are a critical time for a new hire and can determine whether an employee is going to stay for the
long run or leave the company before the year is out.
Norman said that Kraft tapped its ERGs to help acclimate new employees and engender a sense of loyalty and
belonging after it acquired British candy-maker Cadbury in January 2010.
“One of the places where we found our ERGs to be effective is following our acquisition … as an enticement
for employees to hang on,” Norman said. “Cadbury did not have ERGs, so we used our ERGs to reach out to Cadbury
employees, to share a little bit about the culture, our environment, and let them know that help was on the way.”
NO. 3 To provide skill-based training, career development and mentoring
“When we work with employee-resource groups, we’re working in partnerships to help identify gaps and opportunities in the organization to support develop-
ment and advancement,” Norman said.
Norman said the first program Kraft initiated nine years ago was
called Jump Start. “We had a five percentage point higher turnover rate
for people of color than for the general population and so [we did] some
training to help people of color in the organization build strategies and
deal with headwinds and tailwinds in the organization and to reach their
career objectives,” he said.
Watch the full video of the panel at www.DiversityInc.com/event-videos