Monday, July 09, 2018

key principles for employee resource groups

The following is an excerpt from the Employee Resource Group Framework that I have been working on over the past six months. The full document when available will provide additional information on these and other key items for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

Employee Resource Groups are voluntary groups which bring together employees who share a common identity, characteristics, and/or bond or background and provide optimum environments and opportunities for these employees to flourish and to contribute fully to the organization. ERGs also advocate for the necessary shifts required to accomplish this at a broader and deeper level in the organization.

Some of the most common Employee Resource Groups are for women, LGBTQ2S+ employees,  Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and minority cultural groups.

Note that these key principles were written for a non-profit / non-governmental organization / government context, and thus will differ from what one sees in articles about company ERGs.

Key Principles for Employee Resource Groups

1. Based on People Attributes

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) bring together employees who share a common identity, characteristics, and/or bond or background.

In the context of a diversity and inclusion initiative, most if not all ERGs are attribute-centered, particularly around peoples who have historically been or presently are at the margins in the workplace. They are not primarily about shared interests, hobbies or skill development.

2. Focused on Flourishing

Employee Resource Groups are focused on enabling and increasing the flourishing of their members. While there are benefits to the employer, these are not the primary driver for having ERGs.

3. Member-Driven

“Nothing about us without us.” While some overarching policies and principles govern Employee Resource Groups, what happens at an ERG in terms of format and activities is determined by its members.

4. Inclusive of a Range of Needs

Employee Resource Groups can address a range of desired results for their members. The hierarchy can be expressed as follows:
Positive mental health and general well-being
Social networking and personal development
Organizational awareness and policy alignment; community outreach
Full integration into the business
While seeking to create movement forward, Employee Resource Groups need to remember those employees who most need help and support to be included and to flourish at work as well as those who are further along in their journey.

5. Geared to Their Members

Employee Resource Groups are geared to the needs of their members as related to their social context, barriers faced, etc., and can vary significantly from one another in their purpose and format.

6. Evolving over Time

It is anticipated that the form and structure of each Employee Resource Group will evolve over time as movement toward flourishing takes place and as the corporate culture evolves.

7. Intentionally Intersectional

Recognizing the intersectionality that runs through the lives of many employees, Employee Resource Groups will be intentional about using an intersectional lens in their planning and activities.

8. Collaborative

Employee Resource Groups will seek out opportunities to collaborate with other ERGs to share resources, optimize their efforts and increase unity.

9. Engaged with Allies

Employee Resource Groups are engaged with their allies to work together for the flourishing of all.

Rob Goetze

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

[on the importance of representation...]

Jamal Jordan writes about growing up in a world where he saw no examples of queer people of colour, and how he began taking portraits as part of changing this.

Pat Martin and Paulette Thomas-Martin are both 66 and have 13 grand children between them from the lives they lived before they met. Photo by Jamal Jordan.
"As a child, I thought all gay people were white.

By the time I was 18 and living in Detroit, being gay was no longer a “problem” for me. I was out of the closet, and my family and friends were supportive, even encouraging. Yet, as I set off for college, and grew more comfortable calling myself an adult, a man — a gay black man — I was convinced that no one would ever date or love me.

Growing up, I had rarely seen queer characters of color in the gay young adult books I read, in episodes of “Queer as Folk” I watched or issues of “XY” or “Out” magazines I stealthily bought at Barnes & Noble."

Jamal Jordan, photographer, in Queer Love in Color
Read the rest of the article and see more portraits at:

See also

Monday, June 11, 2018

[welcome and safe at steinhauer united]

welcome and safe sign at southminster steinhauer united church: "all sizes, all ages, all colours, all cultures, all genders, all sexualities, all religions (or none), all types, all people: welcome and safe here"

In the lobby of Southminster Steinhauer United Church in Edmonton. 
Rainbow banners fly outside the front doors.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

draw the circle wide

"circling around" cartoon by rob goetze. Two men standing. One says, "Haven't seen Jesus for a few days..." to which the other replies, "Yeah, he said he was going to draw a circle around everyone who is in, headed off the other way, and we haven't seen him since." A blue line circles around his feet, and then runs across the countryside, circling around village and houses, and then runs off the page.

We sang the song "Draw the Circle Wide" at church a few weeks ago and it fits well with this blog. Some will say "there shouldn't be a circle at all" (and I generally agree) -- however, if you read the lyrics, you will see that essentially everyone ends up inside the circle...

Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.
Let this be our song: no one stands alone.
Standing side by side, draw the circle, draw the circle wide...

God the still-point of the circle
Round you all creation turns
Nothing lost but held forever
in God's gracious arms


Let our hearts touch far horizons
So encompass great and small
Let our loving know no borders
Faithful to God's call


Let the dreams we dream be larger
Than we've ever dreamed before
Let the dream of Christ be in us
Open every door!


Click here to watch the video if your device does not support embedded videos.

"Draw the Circle Wide"
Hymn by Gordon Light and Mark Miller

Read more about moral circles.

If there is no circle, you might either belong... or everyone might just be little bits floating around in the vastness of space...

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

[the limitations of welcome]

Evangelicals for Social Action recently published "The Limitations of Welcome: An Interview with Amy Jacober", who authored a book called Redefining Perfect: The Interplay Between Theology and Disability.

Some quotes from the interview:
Concurrently, Jacober reconstructs a far more hopeful and healing vision of the church, one that goes beyond making space for those with disabilities by merely providing accessible parking or seating or other accommodations. Instead, Jacober contends that Scripture invites us to honor the gifts those with disabilities can bring to communities in reciprocal, right relationships—gifts that can be used in worship, in discipleship, and in vocational calling.

This includes the paradigms we’ve created for what church leadership looks like. Real change will not happen within churches until those with disabilities are “absolutely” reflected in leadership, Jacober said. And this will not happen until people redefine how we traditionally view Christian leaders, theologians, and teachers.

Read the rest of the interview.

Friday, April 13, 2018

vampires have no reflections...

one vampire in every crowd. cartoon by rob goetze. Image of a group of vampires in front of a mirror. Only one is reflected in the mirror. Another one points at him and, laughing, says "There's one in every crowd!" Another says, "You don't belong here, you freak!"

"You know how vampires have no reflections in the mirror?" the Pulitzer Prize-winning author asked an audience at the Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ in 2009. "If you want to make a human being a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves."

"And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn't see myself reflected at all. I was like, 'Yo, is something wrong with me?' That the whole society seems to think that people like me don't exist? And part of what inspired me was this deep desire, that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors, so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."

Junot Diaz, quoted in an article by Billy Nilles

How is this of relevance to people at the margins, people who are part of minoritized groups? They often do not have any positive role models or public figures who represent them and their group, and thus they can feel like they do not belong, like they are not normal....

Thursday, April 05, 2018


"Whatever" washroom sign, found on the internet. Sign shows a mermaid and a centaur with a bird. Text says "Whatever: just wash your hands"

Conversations are going on at work about signage for gender inclusive washrooms, both in our office buildings and in public spaces. While this sign will not be used, it is one of the more creative ones I've seen online.

I did note that my brain, seeing the stereotypical mermaid on the left, assumed that the centaur on the right is male (the fact that centaurs in movies are almost always male didn't help in avoiding that assumption). But the reality is that the symbol is fairly neutral... what do you think?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

[leah dorion, Metis artist]

Leah Marie Dorion is an interdisciplinary Metis artist raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. A teacher, painter, filmmaker and published writer, Leah views her Metis heritage as providing her with a unique bridge for knowledge between all people. (from her site)

Talking Circle Medicine (2005) by Leah Dorion. 7 women in a talking circle, with flowers around.

This piece is called Talking Circle Medicine.

Check out more of her work! Her site also includes discussion of symbolism and some of the projects she has been working on.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018