- Standard Employee Resource groups are antiquated and instead of benefitting minority groups, actually bring out inherent biases within a company
- At Holler, we did not want to implement any ERGs, so we brainstormed how else we could make our company culture align with our DIB guiding principles
- Instead of traditional ERGs, we created employee-led Task Forces that focus on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. They are volunteer groups to help create a more inclusive work environment
- Task Force team members are encouraged to meet and discuss events, programming, and education to help foster DIB at Holler
From the early days of our discussions around diversity, inclusion, and belonging at Holler’s leadership level we knew that we wanted to bring our employees into the strategy and execution of making our organization more inclusive and diverse. We are lucky to have a team that is passionate about the topic and openly shares their ideas and feedback on changes we can make and actions we can take.
With that said, we knew that we didn’t want to repeat the traditional Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that have existed for years. Our CEO recently said in a Fast Company article, “Before we can start to be a part of the solution, we need to understand why current diversity programs don’t work.
Why Current Employee Resource Groups Don’t Work
On a base level, we see that many companies have ERGs. These groups are meant to help people who are part of marginalized communities feel supported in the workplace. But what they can result in is creating support groups for small portions of staff (usually women, LGBTQ+, or people of color) instead of working to create a truly inclusive community that promotes a sense of belonging for everyone. Think about how unfortunate this is; the mere presence of these antiquated ERGs signals that Corporate America has inherent biases toward certain people and assumes they need support in order to deal with these biases. In an effort to combat falling into this same pattern, we created Holler Task Forces.
Holler Task Forces
Holler task forces are voluntary, team member-led groups focused on fostering diversity, inclusion, and belonging within our company. These groups offer social, educational, and outreach activities among team members. Groups meet once a month (more often as needed) and can use their time for anything they choose to - making recommendations for training/events/charity opportunities, holding internal presentations for an educational topic, or anything else that will make an impact on our guiding principles. Ultimately, they are responsible for making sure the voice of their group is amplified at Holler. From time to time, the leadership team may give directives to the task force and can collaborate with them as needed and/or requested.
Introducing Holler Task Forces to our Company
To roll out the first task force we sent a memo to the company. The memo included the following:
The Goal of the Task Forces
We stated this was to create a safe place for conversation and education around a topic/topics related to the group. We want participants to learn from each other, share experiences and create open dialogue within the group and more broadly in the company. The group should look at all aspects of the company and how we operate (policies, principals, procedures). What are areas that might limit growth, inclusion, or belonging for people in this group within Holler? What educational opportunities can the group source/provide to bring more awareness to the group and its related topics?
The Structure of the Task Forces
Each task force has two leads that create topics and an agenda for each session. The Head of People oversees the leads and communicates with them frequently (before the monthly session and after) sometimes assigning tasks for the group to work together on or asking for feedback on programs that will be rolled out. All task forces have their own slack channel. The task force meets once per month for an hour but can meet more frequently as needed.
How Task Forces are Different from ERGs
Task forces are inclusive and encourage employees from outside a specific race, ethnicity, or affinity to join. This allows task forces to have members who may not belong to a specific affinity but who are strong allies of that group. Our task forces are open to all employees who are passionate about the task force topic and take all viewpoints of the group into consideration. The groups are meant to amplify the voice of the often underrepresented group, get all employees educated on topics relevant to the group, and ensure that Holler’s practices are in line with best practices to create equal opportunities and treatment in the workplace.
How Task Forces Can Make an Impact
We shared potential activities that drive the development of group members, education, and awareness for all Holler employees, partnership with external organizations, and partnership with diversity recruiting.
How to Get Involved
To launch our first task force, we provided a breakdown of the various roles within the task force; lead, member, and executive sponsor, which can be found below.
Holler Task Force Lead(s)
- How to Become a Lead: The initial leads will be selected by the Head of People after completing an application. The initial leads are able to reapply to be leads following their six months of tenure but the application process will run through the task force internally moving forward. Here is a snapshot of the very simple lead “application”:
- What the Responsibilities are of a Lead: Task force leads create topics and an agenda for each session that they share with the group ahead of the time. They also meet once a month (more as needed) with the Head of People to drive their strategy forward.
- What makes a good lead:
- Interest, passion, and time to devote their time to the task force
- Strength in facilitation and collaboration skills
- A strong desire to build a presence for the task force at Holler
Holler Task Force Member: Anyone who is interested in joining the task force is welcome to join by reaching out to the Head of People. A member is an active participant in the ongoing activities of a task force. Membership is open to both team members who identify with the focus of the group and allies who wish to advocate and support the mission of the task force. There are a few expectations of task force members:
- Attend all meetings unless out of the office. Attendance and the voices of all members is critical to the success of the task force.
- Promote respectful open dialogue and share opinions and ideas in meetings.
- Support the efforts of the group where needed.
Executive Sponsor: Each group will have an executive sponsor that is responsible for strategic support of the group.
We launched our first task force with our first meeting in September. Ultimately, we hope and expect that the group will be able to drive meaningful change to the operations at Holler across all levels and groups within the organization by giving them a voice.