This March, we're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting the great work that women have accomplished in the workplace. See more great content about the impact of hard-working women here.

In a world where inclusion, representation, visibility, and diversity matters, it's often a long and winding road to find balance in the workplace. Even after a company builds a workforce that represents the world around it, employee support is as important as ever. Creating an employee resource group (ERG) is an effective way to bring like-minded employees together for the opportunity to lift their voices up and inspire meaningful change.

These groups can be centered around any number of populations, one of the most common being a women's resource group. While the group might be centered around one subset of the company, there's no question that a holistic and inspiring ERG is a positive force for every single employee.

In 2019, a group of women at NBF started Thrive, an employee resource group created to uplift women's voices in business and leadership. Their mission is simple; to create an inclusive environment where women and NBF Thrive. By definition, it's equally simple. To thrive means to prosper, flourish, and grow, and that's what this group has done within the company.

"Creating an inclusive environment allows people to be seen and heard, and that really empowers them to do their best."

The reach that Thrive has had within NBF has gone far beyond women in the workplace. In such a short time, the group has hosted numerous events that are inclusive to the entire company. Most recently, they led multiple guided meditation sessions to practice calm in the workplace, a mood board creation event to inspire creativity, an #IAmRemarkable workshop to welcome critical thinking about self-motivation and promotion, as well as numerous other thought-provoking events. In the future, Thrive will host a monthly round table discussion and serve as the facilitator of our Working Moms Day event.

We've seen the positive impact that our ERG has had on our entire organization. While it's taken a lot of work, the benefits are invaluable, but this journey had to start somewhere. No matter where you are or what you do, you can become an agent for change and start your own ERG with relative ease.

"It's important to have groups like this because it creates a culture where peoples' voices are heard that speaks to peoples' concerns"

Any ERG can start with a simple question-- does this interest you? At NBF, it began with a big idea and after thinking about who might be interested, an employee went around the office and just asked that simple question. Even with such a bold and bright idea, getting started is simple.

Next? Schedule a meeting. After you've found the collective need to form the ERG, bring any interested parties into a room together to go over what this new organization can look like. Consider the structure you'd like to follow; will you have a leadership team that guides the broader group or will this become more of a free-form, come-as-you wish team?

For Thrive, the group took on a traditional board structure. The executive board has defined roles that align with its members skills, strengths, and values. This group is a cross-section of the company as a whole, comprised of employees across many departments, positions, and leadership roles. It was important to create a level playing field where everybody felt represented and accepted.

"There is an opportunity for us to come together and bring to the table conversations, discussions, and workshops that help highlight the importance of female leadership within the business world."

Make sure that management is in the loop throughout this process. You'd be surprised by the support that human resources and senior leadership may be able to provide. ERGs are a sign of an emotionally healthy, progressively-minded organization. While these are often grassroots organizations, their missions are always bolstered by support from all sides. Arrange an audience between representatives of the ERG and management to show them how this group will be an invaluable resource for the company as a whole.

"This was an employee-driven initiative, not something that came from the top down. This was something that was supported by our leaders and supported by HR, but it was completely driven by the employees."

Development is a natural part of any ERG and this phase never quite stops as the organization flourishes. At the onset, think about what tenets are most important to your organization and greater business. Create a purpose-driven mission statement that you can model your group around, envisioning the greater impact that you can have. Thrive centers itself around three core pillars: education (unconscious bias, financial literacy), development (mentorship, advocacy), and community outreach (partnerships, sponsorships. A member of the board heads up each of these initiatives, building and scheduling events that support these core values.

Just as development never stops, communication will remain continuous. Announce the group to the company and invite others to participate in whatever capacity is necessary. Whether you're announcing the next big event, keeping the workforce informed about your progress, or just touching base with like-minded individuals, openness and awareness can only further the reach and success of your ERG.

No matter what, keep Thriving. What started with a simple question has turned into a meaningful movement at NBF and we couldn't be more thankful for the empowerment that Thrive has provided for every one of our employees. No matter what shape your employee resource group takes, the strength to start a holistic and healthy employee wellness movement is invaluable and the impact will be enjoyed by everybody.

Learn more about our resource group and see how the women of Thrive have empowered NBF to have an inclusive environment where women and NBF thrive.


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