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How do successful Employee Resource Groups drive career development?


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In our latest Virtual Roundtable on 30 November, we welcomed our guest provocateurs LaTasha Brack, Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Livia Konkel, Corporate Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Corporate Citizenship at Charles River Laboratories.

LaTasha and Livia shared highly valuable insights, including:

  • Why they intentionally set about building a culture and infrastructure that enables Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to identify their specific career development needs
  • How they have scaled their ERGs to engage employees from all parts of the global business
  • The outcomes, including how to ensure employees get a real benefit from being involved.
  • How they ensure that ERGs align with strategic goals

Building ERGs: Strong pillars and key metrics

Charles River Laboratories’ global ERGs are open to all employees and represent an integral part of its drive for a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace. The ERGs are built on the 5 pillars of its DEI strategy, which are:

  • Building awareness and understanding
  • Strengthening belonging and inclusion
  • Increasing diverse representation
  • Focussing on equity
  • Partnering with our communities

In addition, metrics play an important part in tracking the impact of ERGs. The ERGs already have more than 3000 members, spread across currently 10 (soon to be 11) groups. Additionally, Charles River now has 1420 (nearly 50%) of people leaders who have gone through training to tackle bias and foster inclusion.

The organisation also has public goals which include a “Belonging Score” (derived from its employee survey), and the proportion of women in VP+ roles, and leaders in underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. These are some of the metrics that are used when evaluating executive remuneration.

The link between ERGs and careers

Charles River Laboratories, like many organisations, wants to help underrepresented groups through its ERGs, though its key business objective is to empower people to develop the confidence to own their own careers – and hopefully then develop them within the business.

At a global level, it uses a rigorous process to identify top talent to lead its ERGs, with local nominations taken for site or chapter leads. These global ERG leaders are responsible for setting global strategy and bringing local ERG site/chapter leads together for annual planning and global events and initiatives.

The business sees its role as guiding its ERG leaders both to navigate their own opportunities and help the business simultaneously. This it does by, amongst other things:

  • Creating more connectivity across geographies and businesses.
  • Facilitating the spread of ideas and resource sharing.
  • Providing a uniform experience for employees.
  • Avoiding heavy workloads for ERG leaders in performing their roles.
  • Giving global ERG leaders exposure to global Exec Sponsors (VP+).
  • Giving local leaders exposure to the Site Leadership teams.

Benefits for employer and employees alike

Charles River Laboratories uses ERGs to support their Career Development Strategy because they…

  • Align with the overall DEI commitment to have diversity at every level of the organisation.
  • Support and empower ERG members to own their own careers.
  • Acknowledge that different groups may need different things.
  • Support a culture of belonging and retention, by helping people see others like themselves throughout the business.

Meanwhile, employees benefit because they can, amongst many other things:

  • Develop leadership skills, project management and budgeting.
  • Act as part of a feedback loop to support other employees.
  • Pilot new programmes and best practices.
  • Gain global and local visibility.

A good example of an ERG at Charles River is its group for African ancestry. This group organises multiple activities, including mentoring events that connect members with leaders across the organisation – and helps them get valuable advice when navigating their career journey.

Our view

Charles River Laboratories’ work in this area is an excellent example of successful ERGs accelerating the career journey. The organisation has devoted thought, time and resource to their effective operation and the dividend is a clear and direct connection between the value of ERGs for employees and organisation alike. This is much more than a good thing to do – it really helps the business through talent attraction, identification, retention and a clear sense of the career journey.

If you’d like to find out more about our upcoming Virtual Roundtables in 2024 including how to attend, please contact We would love to have you join us!

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