From Entry-Level to Executive: How ERGs Accelerated My Career
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Participating in employee resource groups (ERGs) can provide invaluable opportunities for professional development and career growth. Maceo Owens, CEO and founder of The ERG Movement, shares her journey from ERG member to ERG leader and the skills she gained along the way.
Owens highlights networking as one of the most important abilities she honed through her involvement in ERGs. As an entry-level employee, ERGs gave her access to connect with and learn from executives and leaders across her organization – relationships that would have been off limits otherwise.
She also gained critical strategic thinking and goal setting skills as an ERG leader, using design thinking to understand her members' needs and craft programming to meet them.
Becoming an ERG leader
For those interested in stepping into ERG leadership roles, Owens advises to just go for it.
There's little to lose and so much to gain from those internal and external network connections.
She stresses the importance of defining the role and expectations of an executive sponsor.
Rather than leaving it vague, be clear about what support or guidance you're seeking so the relationship can be mutually beneficial.
Owens describes her career journey, starting in a remote support role with a tech company.
Though feeling stuck, discovering ERGs provided a sense of community and a way to expand her skills. The shift to virtual events due to COVID allowed her to take on more responsibility planning programs as a black ERG leader during a pivotal cultural moment in 2020.
While these opportunities didn't immediately lead to a promotion there, the experience enabled Owens to eventually land a salary role back at the company supporting ERGs and employee engagement.
She realized the positive impacts ERGs could have on people's careers like her own, which inspired her to found The ERG Movement to provide more resources and support for ERG leaders.
Advice for aspiring ERG leaders
When asked for one piece of advice, Owens emphasizes not underestimating the power of data.
Tracking engagement metrics and member feedback can provide valuable insights into how to improve your ERG programming and better meet members' needs.
Though she first got involved in ERGs seeking community, she discovered a passion for empowering others through ERGs just like she had been empowered.
For ERG leaders looking to maximize their impact, Owens points to the ERG Development Model offered through The ERG Movement.
Having a roadmap in place is key to knowing where you're going and measuring success. Owens' journey shows that participating in ERGs can open up a world of possibilities for leadership development, community building, and career growth.