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Engaging Your Reluctant ERG Sponsor: 5 Effective Strategies for Success

April 17, 20235 min read

Engaging Your Reluctant ERG Sponsor: 5 Effective Strategies for Success

Dear HR, DEIB, and ERG Leaders,

This week, a shiver raced down our collective spines as we pondered the horrifying scenario of a young person we love fighting for their life simply because they knocked on the wrong door.

Given that the workplace is often the most diverse environment for many in the United States, the critical role of ERGs as the chief driving force for diversity and inclusion within organizations and in our communities cannot be overstated.

One common roadblock to ERG success, and therefore to bridging the divide across diverse identities, is a lack of executive buy-in and support, so we're getting strategic around engaging the reluctant executive sponsor.

We understand that securing the ideal ERG sponsor can be daunting. In this month's newsletter, we share five effective and actionable strategies to engage your potential or reluctant sponsor and ensure their ongoing support. The key here is to trade in their hesitation for enthusiasm and pave the way for ERG success. In response, we offer a strategic approach to engaging the reluctant executive sponsor.

  1. Don't Skimp On The Data: Highlight the value of ERGs by sharing powerful statistics demonstrating the impact on employee engagement, retention, and innovation. Provide success stories from other organizations, underscoring the benefits of supporting your ERG, and making a case for their involvement. The persuasive nature of data-driven evidence cannot be underestimated. Need help with getting started? Run a quick Google search or make it an excuse to lean on ChatGPT, but don't forego sharing evidence of real impact.

  2. Develop a Clear Vision and Plan: Dazzle your sponsor with a well-articulated vision and a comprehensive plan. Outline your ERG's objectives, activities, and anticipated outcomes. Address their questions and concerns before they ask. A clear plan not only ensures that you are making progress on your priorities, but it becomes apparent to anyone paying attention that you're serious about making an impact.

  3. Alignment, Alignment, Alignment: To capture GENUINE executive interest, harmonize your ERG's objectives with the organization's broader goals. This is vital. Explicitly align your ERG's priorities with what matters most to the organization and, by extension, your executive sponsor. Emphasize how your ERG can tackle urgent issues like increasing workforce diversity, enhancing retention, developing leadership pipelines, or fostering innovation. Demonstrating a direct impact on business results will strengthen your case and secure your sponsor's support.

  4. Customize a Role Tailored to Their Expertise and Interests: This one here is GOLD! Design a role that caters to your potential sponsor's strengths, interests, and availability. Are they too busy for the day-to-day but willing to share their high-level connections so your ERG can organize some incredible events? Jump on that. Do they want to be front-and-center and provide the welcome words at most of your events? Welcome their contribution. Don't ask them to go against their nature; instead, leverage it!

  5. Foster Ongoing Engagement: Keep your sponsor's commitment alive and thriving by orchestrating opportunities for them to interact with ERG members. Beyond extending invitations to events, panel discussions, and networking sessions, consider creating exclusive workshops, mentorship programs, and collaborative projects that capitalize on the sponsor's unique skill set and expertise. Encourage meaningful engagement and foster an environment where the sponsor can not only share their wisdom but also learn from the insights and experiences of ERG members. Each interaction will help build rapport and understanding, further solidifying their connection to your ERG.

Bottom line: An actively engaged sponsor can act as a powerful advocate for the ERG, championing its cause at the executive level and driving the allocation of resources and support necessary for the group to flourish.

Cultivate this symbiotic relationship, and witness the transformative impact on your ERG's growth and success.

Engaging a reluctant or over-committed ERG sponsor can be tough, but adopting a smart engagement strategy (yes, that's a thing) will lay the foundation for success. Use one or all of the strategies outlined here to meaningfully engage your sponsor and their support meaningfully and promote a more inclusive and diverse workplace whose impact spills over into the larger community.

This ongoing engagement is crucial as it ensures the sponsor remains a visible and accessible figure, inspiring trust and credibility among ERG members. Moreover, an actively engaged sponsor can act as a powerful advocate for the ERG, championing its cause at the executive level and driving the allocation of resources and support necessary for the group to flourish. Cultivate this symbiotic relationship, and witness the transformative impact on your ERG's success, and more importantly, the ripple effect on the communities it touches.

Stay tuned for our next issue of Strategic ERG Insights, where we'll delve into clever strategies to prevent your ERG leadership teams from being spread too thin!

Always in your corner,

Asia

YOUR TURN: What strategies have you used or will you apply to keep your sponsors engaged and committed?

This is a learning community, and we love sharing good ideas - that means YOUR good ideas! Share freely below and let's lift as we rise.

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Ready to discuss your ERG challenges? Schedule a strategy session to learn how we combine leadership development and strategic planning to up-level your ERG results. Bridgewellpro.com/erg.


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ERG sponsorshipExecutive engagementReluctant sponsor strategiesERG support tacticsLeadership involvementDiversity and inclusion initiativesStrategic planning for ERGsEngagement techniquesOrganizational alignmentERG success factors
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Asia Bribiesca-Hedin

Asia Bribiesca-Hedin, MBA, MPA, CPC, CPCC, Principal Coach and CEO of Bridgewell LLC Professional Services

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