Starting a Moms/Parents Employee Resource Group
There can be many reasons for starting an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Moms and/or Parents in your organization, including:
- Building a network for parents to share experiences, stories & support each other socially
- Sharing resources among parents on topics such as lactation, feeding, navigating childcare, healthcare, and educational choices for families
- Collecting feedback from parents on their experiences and advocating for improvements
- Providing additional resources for managers/leaders in their support of parents
“When starting Yelp Moms, I was primarily motivated because I didn’t know any other Moms who had recently returned from leave. I was feeling isolated and unsure if my experience was the same as other mothers returning to work, using the Mother’s Rooms, and facing challenges with childcare and sleep training.” – Jenni Snyder
Depending on whether your company already has a process or set of resources for starting an ERG, reach out to your Diversity & Inclusion team, HR Business Partner, and manager to see what’s already out there.
Next, work within that system or forge your own path to meeting other Moms or Parents, get groups together for a coffee or bring-your-own-lunch, and ask early members what they would like to talk about or learn from more experienced parents.
It takes time & energy to bring something together!
When first starting a Moms ERG, Jenni Snyder started off by asking to be introduced to other Moms who had returned to work around the same time as well as Moms with older kids, learning about their experiences, and sharing stories to learn more about what challenges Moms were facing together. She then scheduled a bring-your-own lunch in which she asked Moms with older kids to talk about their systems for navigating childcare when kids were too sick to go do daycare/preschool, on school holidays, and for other occasions like date nights or just some alone, grown-up time.
Building Leadership and Working on an ERG Charter
Once a group has been brought together, try to build an organizational committee or other group of leaders that can commit roughly an hour a month to build a charter for the ERG. This charter serves the purpose of documenting why the ERG was founded, what community and needs it serves, the current and future program(s) the ERG provides, and what the supporting company/organization can do to help the group.
Many ERGs have executive sponsors. These sponsors are typically leaders in the organization who either share the same traits of the membership of the group, or are understanding allies. They serve as both mentors and sponsors of the group leaders, helping ERG leaders navigate organizational leadership when advocating for resources, benefits, or additional training.
If executive sponsorship is already defined within your Diversity & Inclusion organization, awesome. If not, consider asking your network at work who might be able to perform as an Executive Sponsor for your group and define the role they will play in advance, so that expectations can be set in advance, agreed to, and evolve over time. Typically, Executive Sponsorship requires a commitment of 1-2 hours per quarter.
An ERG can have programming as simple as a mailing list, chat room/Slack channel, or newsletter that share blog posts, articles, or company benefits, or multiple programs serving the needs of the group. Some ideas for Moms/Parents ERGs include:
- Mailing list/chat channel in which parents share introductions, photos of their kids, clothing or toy exchanges, blog posts, articles, or books
- Monthly bring-your-own-lunch discussions with rotating topics
- Book/reading clubs once a quarter
- Advocacy for increased benefits around:
- Mother’s/Lactation rooms
- Backup care benefits
- Increased/equal parental leave
- Support/resources for training
- New Parent Mentorship Program
- Manager-of-a-new-parent Mentorship Program
Remember: start small. It’s challenging to start all of these at once, and a single ERG leader shouldn’t try to take on ownership of everything. Sometimes, the best role early ERG leaders can play is to learn to delegate by identifying interested members and asking them if they would like to help build a new program.
Share the Results
An ERG, no matter how small, will have a positive impact on it’s membership. Consider running a survey or interviewing members by email once a quarter or year to collect feedback on the impact the ERG is having on the community, and share that information with your executive sponsor and Diversity and Inclusion team so that they can report to leadership the impact your ERG is having on the community.