Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are company-sponsored, employee-led affinity and allyship organizations within companies. They provide an official channel for differing communities within a company to support one another and engage with and inform others.
These networks have the business purpose of making each employee feel welcomed and valued; they also open the space for business inputs from diverse perspectives. For example Google began offering faith-related products, such religion-themed Google doodles and as interactive religious holiday pages after setting up the Inter Belief Network (IBN). They are therefore also known as Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs).
Our research shows that when faith-and-belief-oriented ERGs are present, it increases the overall inclusion of other groups, including race/ethnicity, women/gender, sexual orientation, veterans/military, dis/ability, age, and family.
Faith and interfaith ERGs also build corporate cultures where antisemitism and any form of religious hatred or prejudice have no place (see more).
See bottom for discussion of main types of faith-oriented ERGs.
The videos and resources below give insights from numerous companies that have successfully integrated religion, faith and/or belief into their corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) priorities. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index is a benchmarking tool for companies to track progress in religious DEI. The 5th edition will open for company participation in January 2024. Contact us for more information!
The video immediately below shares the high level findings from the first edition of the REDI Index (2020).
REDI Index (learn more)
The Nine Principles (more)
Intel (most faith-friendly 2021, 2023 more)
TI: Bring your faith to work (more)
Salesforce has a Faithforce (more)
American Airlines, 20+ Years! (more)
Description of the Movement (more)
Successful ERGs in 5 Companies (more)
Google’ Inter Belief Network (more)
Increasing ERG Impact (more)
PayPal: How we did it (more)
DELL: Sustaining an ERG (more)
Business Case for Faith-Based ERGs (more)
Faith@Work: More than ERGs (more)
Typed of Faith-Oriented ERGs
Faith-and-belief-related ERGs take many forms. Historically, they were formed as faith-specific ERGs when there was sufficient interest and numbers of people of a particular faith to start the process within their organizations to establish on. For instance, at Texas Instruments the Christian group came out of informal Bible studies that then led to a formal ERG. Groups for Muslims and Jewish employees were later added along with groups that catered to regional identities associated with religions, such as the India group which takes the lead on India-specific holiday and religious celebrations such as Diwali.
The current trend is for companies to set up an interfaith or inter-belief ERG with sub faith chapters or pillars when there was sufficient interest and numbers of people of a particular faith to start one. The advantage of having faith-specific sub chapters is that, by some estimates, 80% of members of an interfaith group will come through their faith chapters, which they see more relevant to their needs and interests.
Some companies keep the interfaith ERG as a stand-alone. Success of that model depends on developing programs and activities that pull people in. (See examples from 10 Fortune 100 companies in this report.)
The following provides a summary of ten Fortune 100 companies and their faith-related ERGs or initiatives, such as corporate chaplains, taken from the 2020 Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index report.
The texts are taken directly from company sources at the time (with some light editing) to demonstrate how each company frames the importance of faith in their workplace environment. Links are provided to the company pages.
Alphabet/Google scores high on the REDI Index because of the number and diversity of faith- and belief-based Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) mentioned on the company’s website. Google’s Inter Belief Network (IBN) aims to create a culture of inclusion, tolerance, and mutual understanding at Google for a diversity of beliefs, where Googlers of all beliefs feel welcome, included, and supported. Google’s Inter Belief Network also aims to ensure that the voices of belief-based communities are represented in Google’s products. IBN consists of multiple member chapters representing specific communities of interest, including but not limited to Buddhists, Christians, Jewglers [Google’s term], and Muslims.
Intel strives to provide an environment where employees from diverse backgrounds are valued, respected, challenged, acknowledged, and rewarded so they can achieve their potential and fulfill their career aspirations. Intel encourages employee connection through their network of Intel Chartered Employee Resource Groups. Intel’s groups unite around a significant common affinity or element of their personal identity and are focused on internal and external activities that build an environment of inclusion. Through recruiting, networking, mentoring, resource sharing and sponsored development events, Intel’s Employee Resource Groups are an important part of their culture and aim to show that Intel is a great place to work. Intel’s Employee Resource Groups related to faith and belief include: Agnostics and Atheists at Intel (AAI), Intel Bible-Based Christian Network (IBCN); Intel Jewish Community (IJC), and Intel Muslim Employee Group (IMEG).
Tyson Foods believes that when all beliefs and ideas are expressed in the workplace, everyone benefits. At Tyson Foods, faith and spiritual commitments are valued and respected. Tyson Foods’ culture is what they call, “faith-friendly.” Many of their team members come to work with a set of beliefs about themselves, their world and how they should live in it. Tyson Foods’ welcomes the whole person, when it comes to matters of faith, even those who don’t identify as “religious.” Tyson Foods’ team members’ beliefs matter and their respectful expressions are welcomed. Ninety-eight dedicated chaplains provide compassionate pastoral care to team members and their families, no matter what their religious affiliation or beliefs might be. Some 122,000 Team Members can reach out at any time to a dedicated chaplain when they need to someone to listen to them, encourage them, or even pray with them if they wish. Tyson Foods’ chairman helped coordinate the first group of chaplains, who began their service in October of 2000.
Target aims to foster inclusion among team members of all religions and faiths. Target’s faith-oriented ERGs include their Christian, Jewish and Muslim Networks. These groups are part of Target’s networks that provide community, support and connection to their team members.
American Airlines’ goal is to provide an inclusive environment for all. American Airlines’ Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) leads diversity efforts across the company by fostering company-wide educational, community service and personal enrichment opportunities. The council also supports local Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs), which represent many employees and their beliefs, nationalities and backgrounds. Faith-related groups include Christian, Jewish and Muslim Employee Business Resource Groups.
Facebook welcomes employees from all faiths and spiritual groups to practise and celebrate their beliefs. Facebook Resource Groups provide all Facebook employees with a platform to celebrate culture, connect and engage with colleagues, support professional development, community engagement and drive initiatives that support Facebook’s business objectives. Facebook’s Interfaith@Facebook Resource Group is one of several influential networks of people within the company who share similar values of supporting and encouraging diversity
Apple employees find community and connection in Apple’s Diversity Network Associations, which are employee-led groups that foster a culture of belonging through education, leadership programs, and networking. Today thousands of Apple employees belong to various Diversity Network Associations including a range of faith-based groups.
Dell’s team members come from all backgrounds, religions, nationalities, gender orientations and races. Race, ethnicity and culture (socio-economic status, religion, language) are dimensions of diversity that often create barriers to full equity and inclusion in parts of the world. Dell’s Interfaith Employee Resource Group – along with other ERGs in the company – creates impact by: (a) connecting over 37K+ team members across more than 340+ chapters worldwide, furthering an inclusive work environment; (b) encouraging career progression by providing opportunities to engage with executives and a broad network of peers; (c) giving team members a place to share ideas for market intelligence and product development; and (d) creating a sense of community to build enduring relationships inside and outside of Dell.
American Express’s Employee Networks have brought together people with shared backgrounds and interests to engage with and learn from each other since 1987. Organically grown and employee driven, American Express Employee Networks broaden participants’ community of colleagues, as well as their knowledge of the business by driving employee engagement and promoting a culture of inclusion. With 16 networks and nearly 100 chapters globally, American Express Employee Networks encompass the full spectrum of diversity at American Express including disability, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, generations, sexual orientation and veteran’s status. Faith-oriented groups include: (a) Christian Employee Network (SALT), which serves as a resource group for the Christian employee community. Its members strive to make a positive difference in the workplace by demonstrating a commitment to the values and leadership principles set forth by the company. SALT is open to all denominations. (b) Jewish Employee Network (CHAI), from the Hebrew word meaning “life,” hosts educational and community- oriented events to foster awareness of Jewish culture. (c) Muslim Employee Network (PEACE) fosters an environment of awareness, understanding and education through lunch and learns, informational booths and participation in community activities to counter the stereotypes and misinformation surrounding Islam and Muslims.
Goldman Sachs’ employee affinity networks and interest forums – including their Informal Religious Support Groups – are open to all professionals at Goldman Sachs. They offer training and educational programs, create networking forums, host leadership conferences, and sponsor client events. These groups provide an opportunity for Goldman Sachs’ people to share concerns and feedback, and to develop professional relationships with those from other business units and divisions. Additionally, they help their people to identify opportunities for professional development and advancement to help them achieve their full potential.