How Employee Resource Groups Can Create Inclusive Change With Allies [Interview with Jennifer Brown]

Today I’m speaking with Jennifer Brown. Jennifer is the founder and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting, she is one of the worlds leading experts on employee resource groups and has written several influential white papers that have been important to the development of knowledge and research regarding employee resource groups. Jennifer is also the author of Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will to change

I’m particularly excited about this episode because I became very familiar with the work of Jennifer Brown as part of my PhD. Jennifer Brown’s white papers are some of the most cited resources I’ve encountered by both academics and practitioners. Much of her work is considered to be required reading if you’re serious about employee resource groups. This is why I wanted to get her on the show.

In todays show we discuss several things including

  • Jennifer’s predictions for the future of work and employee resource groups
  • Allies: Lessons from the LGBT Community
  • Jennifer’s love letter to those who have felt disengaged and disconnected and much much more

Here’s some of the wisdom that Jennifer shared:

Use your privilege on behalf of others

Jennifer describes how each of us is likely to have access to relative privilege subject to our circumstances at any particular time. Jennifer explains that recognising the advantages that our relative privilege affords us creates opportunities to use these advantages to help those who may benefit from our help:

“I challenge ERG’s to utilise their relative privilege on behalf of the other communities in their ERG family”

Employee resource groups as a high potential development opportunity

In the past, Jennifer made several predictions about how she thought Diversity & Inclusion would impact the workplace. Jennifer explains how she believes that employee resource groups could be part of an organisations talent management strategy:

“It should be on the table that an ERG leadership position and an Executive Sponsor position as well should be a stretch assignment for high potential talent and it should also be viewed as a pipeline for that talent”

Lessons from the LGBT Community about Allies:

Jennifer draws attention to the progress that has been made by organisations supporting LGBT initiatives through the use of Allies. Jennifer suggests that other social identity groups can benefit from the example of the LGBT community in actively soliciting the support and encouragement of Allies as part of their journey:

“The gay community in the workplace has done this really well with straight allies.. both sides have reached out proactively and built these tremendous relationships and I’d like to see ally ship exercised more effectively”


If you want a quick snapshot of what the episode is about, I’ve created some slides that you may find interesting


How are you accessing your relative privilege to help others?

Show notes

Here are some selected links to for the resources and reports I discuss in the episode.

Jennifer Brown Consulting

Jennifer Brown White Papers

Jennifer Brown Podcast

Jennifer Brown Twitter

Jennifer Brown Instagram

Jennifer Brown Linkedin

Jennifer Brown Facebook

Jennifer Brown: Inclusion, Allies & the Will to Change

Finding your voice in the workplace: Jennifer’s TED Talk at TEDx Presidio

My PhD Thesis

Deloitte Thinks Diversity Groups Are Passé

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The Elements of Inclusion #4

Leaders must collaborate innovatively to leverage cultural expertise and drive business performance.

  • Why inclusive outcomes are driven by innovation
  • How developing a business case for diversity and inclusion specific to your organisation is a competitive advantage
  • Why novelty is at the heart of your inclusion journey

The Elements of Inclusion #3

Leaders must establish systems to ensure that everyone shares the same advantages and benefits. These processes will create incentives for inclusive behaviours.

  • How to augment your team with the tools and insights they need to prevent structural disadvantage
  • Why reinforcing generative norms ensures everyone belongs in the organisation
  • How inclusive representations can be embedded to promote an inclusive culture

The Elements of Inclusion #2

Leaders must redefine career development relationships to support inclusive performance.
  • Why traditional mentor relationships must be revised for an inclusive workplace
  • How leaders must embrace networks of developmental relationships for individual growth
  • Why established workplace norms must evolve for inclusion in the modern workplace

The Elements of Inclusion #1

Leaders must properly socialise people and socialise inclusive ideas by providing an environment for the cultural learning needed for an active role in an inclusive organisation

  • How your socialisation processes must evolve to encourage the sustainable cultivation of inclusive competencies
  • Why Leaders must consistently negotiate the line between organisational commitment and personal authenticity to promote performance
  • How developing intersectional self awareness can help leaders to leverage individual employee experiences