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Why It's Time to Ditch the Affinity Group to ERG to BRG Development Model

The Affinity Group to Employee Resource Group (ERG) to Business Resource Group (BRG) development model has been used in the past as a way for companies to structure and organize their ERGs.

An illustration of the outdated ERG Maturity Model

However, this model has been found to be unreliable and has several significant flaws. It is no longer considered to be the best approach for organizing and supporting ERGs. In this blog post we'll discuss why this development model is outdated and what to use as an alternative.


The trend of Employee Resource Groups identifying as affinity groups is a relatively new development that has emerged as a result of the perceived difficulties and commitments involved in maintaining a thriving ERG. While this approach may be appealing to the company, as it allows them to avoid making necessary investments or implementing changes, it can ultimately lead to frustration and burnout among ERG leaders. Without proper structure and support, the program is likely to collapse due to a lack of commitment and engagement from its leaders.


On the other hand, Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are solely focused on driving business impact and are highly organized in their approach. However, it is important to remember that the success of an employee-led group depends on its ability to prioritize the needs and concerns of its community. Without a strong foundation of community and a focus on the well-being and advancement of its members, an ERG will struggle to achieve its goals and make a meaningful impact. The idea that a company can simply launch a group and expect it to immediately become a community that drives company level impact that potentially increases capital is misguided and likely to lead to eventual failure.

Additionally, the use of the title "Business Resource Group" as a performative measure by companies can create confusion and additional burdens for the underrepresented populations that are meant to be supported. This superficial adoption of the title can give the impression of a higher investment in diversity and inclusion, but may not necessarily reflect the reality of the group's purpose or the company's commitment to supporting and developing its members.


To top it off, the notion that there is a "happy medium" between an Affinity Group and a Business Resource Group that ERG leaders can choose to engage in is another misleading and flawed concept. A successful Employee Resource Group (ERG) should prioritize community at its core and gradually incorporate considerations of business impact as the program develops. By focusing on the needs and concerns of its members and building a strong foundation of community, an ERG can more effectively achieve its goals and make a meaningful impact on the organization.


To address the challenges and misconceptions surrounding Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), it can be helpful to utilize the ERG Movement Model, which consists of three stages: ERG Infancy, ERG Adolescence, and ERG Maturity.

In the ERG Infancy stage, the group is just getting started and focuses on building awareness and establishing a presence within the company. This is a crucial time for the ERG to define its mission and goals and to determine the resources and support it needs to succeed.

During the ERG Adolescence stage, the ERG has a solid foundation and works to expand its impact and influence within the company. It develops more sophisticated strategies and programs and builds stronger partnerships with other groups within the organization.

In the ERG Maturity stage, the ERG has reached a level of stability and focuses on sustainability and continuous improvement. It evaluates its progress and looks for ways to further grow and develop.

By following this model, ERGs can more effectively navigate their development and achieve their goals, ultimately promoting diversity and inclusion within the company.

The ERG Movement model offers a more dynamic and adaptable approach to organizing and supporting ERGs. This model recognizes that ERGs are constantly evolving and may require different types of support and resources at different stages of their development. Most importantly, the ERG Movement model helps to set all ERGs up for success by providing a framework for operating at a golden standard.

If you are seeking a way to structure and support your ERG, consider adopting the ERG Movement model. This approach has the potential to help your ERG thrive and reach its full potential.

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