October 15, 2021

Leading in Color Newsletter

October 2021

ERGs are built-in growth engines  

I regularly talk about the important role that coalitions play in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). While champions and allies of racial equity have impact outside the walls of an institution, holding leaders accountable for progress, they also have the power and influence as employees inside the organization. These coalitions oftentimes take shape and deliver impact as affinity groups, commonly known as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Business Resource Groups (BRGs) or Impact Resource Groups (IRGs). 

The last year and a half showed that companies are at various stages on their DE&I journey. For example, some are in the early days of empowering ERGs, while others are implementing more advanced strategies for ERGs to have a demonstrable impact on the business. In a four-part symposium that member company Astellas hosted for Chicago United members, we discussed the power that ERGs have to drive DE&I. If they’re leveraged well, these groups can influence company performance.

At Astellas, 81% of all present and past leaders of the company’s “Employee Impact Groups” were promoted over the last four years. It’s critical that employees who dedicate time with ERGs, on top of their daily job responsibilities, see the groups as drivers of career development and advancement.  

Robert Rodriguez, PhD., a 2017 Business Leader of Color, is president of DRR Advisors, LLC, and an expert on ERGs. Through his 4C ERG Assessment Model of Career, Culture, Commerce and Community, he offers many examples of ways the groups help with business imperatives. For example, ERGs have helped advance medical clinical trials among underrepresented groups; they’ve helped encourage colleagues to increase their participation in wealth-building Employee Stock Ownership Programs; and, they’ve helped identify minority- and women-owned companies needed by procurement departments.

In ERGs, a company will find employees who, by their very involvement in these groups, have stepped forward to help the company compete better and maintain an inclusive workplace. High-performing companies recognize that. They intentionally enable ERGs to reach their full potential as powerful, internal coalitions. 

2021 Bridge Award Honoree

Chicago United is proud to announce this year’s Bridge Award recipient, Ariel Investments. Congratulations to Ariel! Ariel, led by Co-CEOs John W. Rogers, Jr. and Mellody Hobson, has continually demonstrated a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business world, and CU is honored to recognize their extraordinary efforts at this year’s Bridge Awards Celebration.

Join us in celebrating Ariel, and this year’s 50 Business Leaders of Color, on November 18th! The celebration will occur at the Hilton Chicago at 5:30 PM. For information, visit the Bridge Awards site

Welcome, Devika Singh

Chicago United is pleased to introduce Devika Singh, our Research and Evaluation Fellow.

Devika is leading Chicago United’s research and impact evaluation strategy as an Applied Data Fellow from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining Chicago United, Devika has worked on research, data and policy analyses towards creating environmentally sustainable and socioeconomically inclusive policy frameworks at the local, national and regional levels.

Welcome, Blake Goble

Chicago United is pleased to introduce Blake Goble, our new Manager of Marketing and Communications. Blake is heading up CU’s digital and promotional strategies.

Blake joins Chicago United after serving as Social Media Editor and Associate Director for Chicago Booth Review, a publication of the Chicago Booth School of Business. Blake has worked over a decade in a variety of new media roles, supporting mission- and insight-driven content in academic and nonprofit spheres.

We are excited to announce that Chicago United will be launching Cohort V of the Corporate Inclusion Institute on February 4! We encourage you to re-enroll one or more Inclusion Clusters for 2022.

As you know, we enhanced the curriculum to include learning opportunities for all Inclusion Cluster members, which is proving to have an impact on the cross-cultural competency and self-awareness of business leaders from across the organization. The numbers are clear: 

Thus far, Cohort IV’s satisfaction with the program is high with CII faculty, content, and applicability, averaging a 4.7 rating on a 5-point scale.  In addition, all aspects of the coaching relationship were deemed extremely valuable, averaging a 4.8 rating on a 5-scale.

  • Based on new data from Cohorts I-III:

  • More than 72% of Corporate Guides and Fellows who graduated from the program, showed significant improvement in their cultural competency scores from the Intercultural Development Inventory.

  • 45% of participants who responded to CII surveys have been promoted within their companies.

For additional information on Cohort V’s curriculum and session schedule, please click on the links below:

For more information, contact Doris Salomón, dsalomon@chicago-united.org. And, help us share the word about this opportunity with others in your network and on social media!

Congratulations to Chicago United Board Chairman and Greeley and Hansen CEO John Robak, and CU Director of Programs and Nuestro Futuro Steering Committee Co-Chair Doris Salomón, for being included among this year’s list of Notable Nonprofit Leaders in Crain’s Chicago Business. Way to go, John and Doris! Other featured CU colleagues include: 
  • CEO Council member and 2018 Council Champion award recipient Charles Matthews.
  • Chicago United Business Leaders of Color Carlos Cardenas, Suzet McKinney, Michele Richardson, Smita Shah, and Michelle Flowers Welch.
Congratulations to everyone from CU! Read more at chicagobusiness.com.

Chicago United Senior Program Manager Luz Vargas recently participated in a panel for Motorola Solutions, “Bilingualism & Multiculturalism,” where she shared her insights and experiences.

In Business Leader of Color news:
  • 2021 BLC David Segura was named 2021 Hispanic Businessperson of the Year by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 
  • 2019 Business Leader of Color Levoi Brown was named Head of the Economic Equity Advisory Group for BMO Harris Bank.
  • 2019 BLC Aurora Austriaco recently received the American Bar Association GPSolo Difference Makers Award.
  • And, 2009 Business Leader of Color Shundrawn Thomas recently joined Reinsurance Group of America as a Board Member. 

Corporate Inclusion Institute

Cohort IV – Closing Ceremony

Tue., Nov. 9, 2021 | 5:00 - 7:00 PM

In-Person at Hyatt Corporate Offices

300 East Randolph Street, Suite CL920, Chicago, IL 60601-5075
312-977-3060 • www.chicago-united.org