Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a great way to engage, develop and retain employees.  ERGs are employee-led groups that advance employee engagement while supporting the corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals.  ERGs are one of the most visible components of a DEI strategy.  Recent articles report that 90% of Fortune 500 companies now have a platform for ERGs.

With an increased interest in and reliance on ERGs to advance DEI in organizations, measuring their effectiveness, managing growth, and providing organizational transparency are more critical than ever.  Here are 3 effective ways to measure the effectiveness and impact of ERGs. 


1. Create an Annual Plan

Before having a discussion on measures and metrics, explore how metrics can be used in the ERG annual planning process.  Most organizations require an annual plan that details the plan initiatives, metrics, action steps and events.  The following annual plan model shows the flow for plan development. 

The process for developing the annual plan begins with defining key focus areas for ERGs. It continues with the creation of major initiatives (generally 3-5) and metrics, the standards for measuring accomplishments of the initiatives.  Finally, the action plans (including events) are the tactical steps necessary to achieve the initiatives.  Together, the metrics and action plans contribute to an initiative’s overall performance.  Building an annual plan does not have to be intimidating.  The following worksheet can be used to capture the annual plan content. 

2. Assess Performance Measures

a. Operating Plan Performance Measures

Most organizations find it sufficient to update metric and action plan performance on a quarterly basis and conduct performance reviews with their DEI councils.  It is essential to track performance and provide reports and scorecards that can be shared among the ERG membership and senior leadership.   

B. Impact and Effectiveness Performance measures

Impact and effectiveness measures indicate how the ERG activities impact the membership and the organization. The ERG Effectiveness Model highlights some of the main contributing factors:

  • Operating Plan Performance assesses how effective the ERG is at delivering on its annual initiatives, metrics, and action plans.  
  • Financial Impact is a category where ERGs can tally either direct revenue or cost savings (avoidance) that are generated by their efforts.  For example, an organization might be able to save on search fees due to an ERG’s ability to find viable position candidates. 
  • Membership is at the core of ERG impact and effectiveness.  It’s important to establish and monitor objectives around increasing the number of employees who are members of ERGs because this is a true depiction of employee engagement.  Additionally, membership growth, participation and satisfaction are the essential measurements here. 
  • Event Performance reflects the success of an event, and like membership, it is measured through attendance and event evaluations.  
  • Community Impact is another central focus area for many ERGs. Capturing the number of volunteer hours and dollars raised for a charity are two great factors that can be indicators of success. Community involvement also aligns well with the company’s broader objectives related to reputation and brand management.  
  • Professional Growth for ERG members is critical.  Professional growth is one of the many values ERGs provide to both members and non-members. Whether through surveys or other means, it’s necessary to measure this impact on the individual level.  

The table above provides an example of metrics for each target and calculations that show the actual performance as a percent of the target. Although not shown here, organizations can add weighting for each factor and calculate the performance index score for each ERG. 

3. Put It All in One Place Using Technology

Measuring and reporting on ERG effectiveness and impact can be daunting.  ERG Insight™ is designed specifically to manage these tasks and provide administrative support in the areas of communication, member management, event management, budgeting, survey administration, on-demand reports, and more.  Learn more about ERG Insight™. 

About the Author

Haven Cockerham is a DEI strategy consultant who helps organizations develop, implement and measure DEI strategies, including the design and implementation of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).  His industry experience includes Chief Human Resources Officer for DTE Energy and RR Donnelley and a Senior HR Executive at General Motors.  His corporate board experience includes chairing the HR & Compensation Committees for BMO Harris Financial and Presence Health System in Chicago.  He has also served on the board of The Bartech Group and Chaired the North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation Board.