How Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can change an organization

How Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can change an organization

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are important to a company’s success. They foster community and a sense of belonging, help drive organizational change, and improve the overall quality of an organization’s culture. Most importantly, they help organizations become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. I’d love to share the history of ERGs at Cloudflare, as well as how they function and help influence the company.

The history of ERGs at Cloudflare

When I joined Cloudflare in 2017, one of the first things I did was search “LGBTQ” in our company chat. A chat room of a dozen or so employees titled “LGBT at Cloudflare” popped up. There was evidence of some historic chatter in the room, and it was clear some employees had gathered for drinks after work before. I immediately introduced myself to the group, and asked if they would be okay with me setting up a meet & greet event. We booked a conference room, ordered lunch, found an article to discuss, introduced ourselves, and collectively decided we wanted to continue hosting such events. In our second meeting, we decided we should make things official by deciding on a name. This was the birth of Proudflare, our employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQIA+ employees and our allies, and the first official Cloudflare ERG. I was honored to serve as Proudflare’s first global leader.

Cloudflare employees have founded and advanced fifteen other ERGs since 2017. Afroflare, our ERG for people of the African Diaspora, was the next ERG to form, later in 2017. The most recent is Flarability, our accessibility ERG. All of our groups are focused on fostering community, celebrating diversity, supporting career development, and educating those around us, but serve different communities. We decided early on that if each ERG focuses on education, celebration, and inclusion, we’ll be successful in supporting our underrepresented communities and stimulating positive change at our company. We have come a long way and still have a lot of change to make, but I can safely say that we have definitely helped make Cloudflare more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

Scroll down to read the mission statements of each of Cloudflare’s ERGs. You may also read more about our ERGs through blog posts they’ve published at Cloudflare.

What is an ERG?

Our definition: At Cloudflare, ERGs are employee-led and company-supported groups of underrepresented and/or marginalized employees or groups of employees who are focused on key Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. These employees join together in the workplace based on shared characteristics, life experiences, or initiatives. ERGs are generally based on creating a community of support and belonging, enhancing career development of their members, and contributing to the development of a more inclusive culture at Cloudflare.

ERGs are led by passionate volunteer employees who serve in roles as global leaders, regional leads, initiative leads, communications leads, and executive advocates. We ERG leaders agreed early on to support each other in our work, so we formed an Inclusion Council. This council is made up of all ERG leaders as well as Cloudflare’s inclusion workshop facilitators and serves as a steering committee in order to surface and incite feedback on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics. We meet monthly, in rotating time zones so we may include leaders from all regions. Some of our most successful ERG partnership initiatives were forged in our Inclusion Council meetings between Womenflare and Afroflare, Asianflare and Desiflare, Mindflare and Proudflare, Latinflare and Afroflare, and more.

Most ERGs leverage executive advocates to help gain support from our senior executives and help those executives become more involved in DEI initiatives. Advocates meet regularly with ERG leaders, review company-wide or external-facing ERG communications, amplify the voices and visibility of ERGs through written communications and participation in events, and advocate for the ERG at the executive level. An example of a successful partnership between an Executive Advocate and an ERG is our CTO, John Graham-Cumming and Womenflare. John has held several meetings with Womenflare members to listen to their needs and experiences, share company decisions, and find ways to better advocate for the women of Cloudflare. He also meets with Womenflare’s leaders biweekly to help with major initiatives and any roadblocks to progress.

How do ERGs impact organizations?

The most important function of an ERG is to create a sense of belonging and community amongst their members and allies through chat room conversations and regular connection opportunities. ERGs typically also produce initiatives around global education and celebration opportunities such as Women’s Empowerment Month, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc. These initiatives include DEI discussion events, company-wide presentations, company-wide emails, blog posts, social media campaigns, Cloudflare TV segments, publication of antiracism resources, spotlighting of underrepresented and marginalized employees, advising Cloudflare teams on decisions such as inclusive benefits package selection and accessible office space construction, and helping to promote inclusion education programs.

Through these connection opportunities and initiatives, ERGs influence the overall organization. They attract more allies and encourage them to take DEI actions, help educate employees on systemic barriers to DEI, and help make the workplace more inclusive and enjoyable for everyone. I see ERGs as impactful grass-roots movements within a company and I’ve witnessed their positive impact firsthand.

Thank you for reading about Cloudflare’s ERGs. Sixteen ERGs is a good number, but I’m really looking forward to supporting the foundation and growth of even more, and helping our existing ERGs flourish. If you are interested in starting an ERG at your company or learning more about ERG best practices, I encourage you to check out the Human Rights Campaign’s article, Establishing an Employee Resource Group.

Cloudflare ERG mission statements:

Afroflare

Our mission is to help build a better Global Afro-community at Cloudflare and beyond. We support each other’s growth, share our community’s stories, and help to make Cloudflare a more diverse and inclusive company.

Asianflare

We provide a supportive environment for all employees of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, work to create more awareness of the struggles our community has faced and continues to face today, and celebrate our rich shared cultures.

Cloudflarents

We provide community and resources for parents and families, and welcome allies, people who are interested in becoming a parent, or who are family-oriented.

Desiflare

We foster networking and build a sense of community amongst Cloudflare employees using the rich South Asian culture as a platform to bring people together.

Flarability

We curate and share resources about disabilities, provide a community space for those with disabilities and our allies to find support and thrive, and encourage and guide Cloudflare’s accessibility programs.

Greencloud: Sustainability Group

Greencloud is a sustainability-focused working group made up of Cloudflare employees who are passionate about the environment and addressing the climate crisis.

Judeoflare

We provide a forum for the Jewish people of Cloudflare where we support each other and celebrate our shared heritage.

Latinflare

The mission of Latinflare is to help create a more diverse workplace, create a sense of community + belonging for Latinx employees, and connect with the communities where we work.

Mindflare

We provide the Cloudflare community resources around mental health, as well as increase awareness and destigmatize mental health more broadly throughout our communities.

Nativeflare

With a shared goal of education, we recognize the heritage and cultural presence of Native American employees at Cloudflare and illuminate the historical impact of policies and racism that continue to fuel prejudice and injustice, even to this day.

Proudflare

Our mission is to Educate and Celebrate, Globally! We find ways to support and provide resources for the LGBTQIA+ community and make sure that the Cloudflare community is a welcoming, inclusive place for all.

Soberflare

Ensure the Cloudflare community is welcoming and inclusive to those abstaining from alcohol and/or drug use by increasing awareness and destigmatizing the decision to choose sobriety.

Vetflare

We encourage the recruitment and retention of veterans of military service from any military around the world. We also provide a supportive environment and community space for those who have served to network.

Women in Engineering

Our mission is supporting women’s professional development and success within Cloudflare.

Women in Sales

Our mission is to provide community experience and resources to help women in our sales organization to grow professionally and support each other collectively.

Womenflare

Womenflare’s mission is to create a community where all who identify as women feel supported and represented at Cloudflare.

Source:: CloudFlare