Events

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are important drivers of talent and business results. Whether called employee networks, business resource groups, or affinity groups, these groups can have considerable impact on your organization’s ability to develop future leaders, increase employee engagement, and expand marketplace reach. While some may regard these groups as exclusive, ERGs can build alliances across difference in the workplace. ERGs are also critical advocates of inclusive leadership.

The Employee Resource Leadership Initiative (ERLI) conference, ERLI 2018: Workplaces that Work: Building Bridges Through ERGs, was held on May 9-10, 2018, at BMO’s world-class Institute for Learning located in Toronto. ERLI 2018's mission was to build bridge through ERGs to help create workplaces that have a safe and inclusive environment for all employees.

 

ERLI 2018: Workplaces that Work: Building Bridges Through ERGs brought together experts, business leaders, advisors, and other ERG leaders across companies to share knowledge, network, and participate in workshop sessions that provided ideas and tangible solutions to create inclusive workplaces where all employees feel valued.

Attendees:

  • Discovered the impact ERGs can have on business performance.
  • Learned best practices for how to effectively communicate your ERG’s goals.
  • Heard how your ERG can help build a more inclusive, more empathic workplace culture, with a deep-rooted sense of fair play, using robust conversations guided by empathy.
  • Gained insights on how your ERG can become more inclusive and engage more employees outside of your target constituency.
  • Learned from Catalyst Award-winning best practices about the critical role ERGs play in fostering inclusion across difference in a rapidly changing world.
  • Networked with other ERG leaders and discuss best practices across different functions, industries, and geographies.

Participant feedback and key takeaways:

“I really enjoyed the conference and walked away with some nuggets that I can apply to my ERG and organization.”

“Every year, the conference exceeds expectations! Thank you for all you do and the investment you make into this work.”

“Great experience! I learned a lot and made great connections. Thanks!”

“Providing guidance on what is required is important when trying to engage Allies. Allies often want to help they just don't know how.”

“Everyone has a Psychological Safety factor.”

“Authenticity promotes uniqueness AND belonging.”

“I like the way Tolonda demonstrated that fostering psychological safety through inclusion ultimately drives a significant increase in innovation.”

May 9

6:00–8:00 PM: Reception and Opening Remarks

Speakers:

 

May 10

7:30–8:30 AM: Registration & Breakfast

8:30–8:45 AM: Welcome & Opening Remarks

Speakers:

  • Vandana Juneja, Senior Director, Corporate Engagement, Canada and Asia-Pacific, Catalyst
  • Rajini Nagendran, Chief Inclusion Officer, BMO Financial Group

8:45–9:45 AM: Fireside Chat

This discussion will highlighted the impact ERGs have on business performance through their alignment with organizational goals with senior leaders from BMO Financial Group.

Speakers:

9:45–10:00 AM: Networking Activity

Participants paired up and discovered the common bonds they had with their partner during this warm-up networking activity.

Emcee:

10:00–10:15 AM: Networking Break

10:15–11:45 AM: Fostering Psychological Safety Through Inclusion

ERG’s not only create safe and inclusive environments for their members but can also be leveraged to amplify inclusion across your organization. In this hands-on, interactive session participants explored the concept of psychological safety and its central role in creating an inclusive workplace culture that fosters engagement and innovation.

Speaker:

  • Tolonda M. Tolbert, PhD, Senior Director, Inclusive Leadership Initiative and Consultant, Consulting Services, Catalyst

11:45 AM–12:45 PM: Luncheon

12:45–1:30 PM: Keynote: You Belong Here

Belonging is the new frontier of diversity and inclusion efforts, and it will be driven by leaders of Employee Resource Groups. In an interactive speech, Erin called for solidarity across communities struggling for liberation in the workplace and beyond. Erin lead the discussion on vital questions of belonging, sharing best practices and personal anecdotes.

Speaker:

1:30–1:45 PM: Networking Break

1:45–3:15 PM: Concurrent Breakout Sessions (Participants chose one)

Telling Your Story: Inclusive Communication as a Critical ERG Strategy

Key to any ERG’s success is building a comprehensive communication strategy. In this session participants learned how to communicate more inclusively by exploring strategies for overcoming common roadblocks and discussing best practices for effectively championing your ERG's goals, progress, and successes to both internal and external constituents.

Speakers:

  • Ben McDowell, Senior Consultant, Diversity & Inclusion, Nationwide
  • Julie S. Nugent, Vice President, Research and Chair, Catalyst Award, Catalyst

Building Empathy Through ERGs

Empathy is the key to understanding others’ perspectives. In this engaging session participants took part in a 21 Toys Workshop, and learned how they can be a part of creating a more inclusive workplace culture with a deep-rooted sense of sense of fair-play using robust conversations guided by empathy.

Speaker:

The Keys to Building Bridges: Engaging Allies Across ERGs

Participants learned how their ERGs can work alongside other ERGs to address what employees with intersecting identities face, and how to build bridges with allies at all levels across your organization.

Speakers:

  • Kimberley Messer, LGBT+ Business Development Leader, North America, IBM
  • Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, Senior Director and Panel Manager, Research, Catalyst
  • David Lau, Senior Associate, Corporate Engagement and Project Manager, Catalyst Award, Catalyst

3:15–3:30 PM: Networking Break

3:30–4:00 PM: Closing Activity and Remarks

Together, we will reflect upon the day and identify next steps to bring what we’ve learned back to our ERGs and organizations.

Speakers:

  • Alicia Sullivan, Senior Associate, Corporate Engagement, Catalyst Canada
  • Vandana Juneja, Senior Director, Corporate Engagement, Canada and Asia-Pacific, Catalyst

4:00–5:30 PM: Networking Reception

Click below to view the ERLI 2018 Workbook.

2018 ERLI Workbook icon

View the complete bios for the event speakers here.

  • Gina Jeneroux, Chief Learning Officer, BMO Financial Group
  • Vandana Juneja, Senior Director, Corporate Engagement, Canada and Asia-Pacific, Catalyst
  • Deland P. D. Kamanga, Head, Global Fixed Income, Currencies & Commodities, BMO Capital Markets
  • David Lau, Senior Associate, Corporate Engagement and Project Manager, Catalyst Award, Catalyst
  • Kimberley Messer, LGBT+ Business Development Leader, North America, IBM
  • Ben McDowell, Senior Consultant, Diversity & Inclusion, Nationwide
  • Rajini Nagendran, Chief Inclusion Officer, BMO Financial Group
  • Julie S. Nugent, Vice President, Research and Chair, Catalyst Award, Catalyst
  • Yvonne SoBeach, Senior Advisor, BeingBMO, BMO Financial Group
  • Alicia Sullivan, Senior Associate, Corporate Engagement, Catalyst Canada
  • Jennifer Thorpe-Moscon, Senior Director and Panel Manager, Research, Catalyst
  • Tolonda M. Tolbert, PhD, Senior Director, Inclusive Leadership Initiative and Consultant, Consulting Services, Catalyst
  • Erin Uritus, CEO, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates
  • Tanya van Biesen, Executive Director, Catalyst Canada

1 Reader Comment

Vivian Ayuso says:
3/22/2018 09:58:34

Would help to have an agenda for the event, event if a tentative one. I requested some information on this last week and did not receive a response.

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