Grassroots and Other Employee Efforts

Many employees lead external efforts that promote diversity or community engagement. In a dignity-centered organization, these efforts are rewarded, rather than dismissed or criticized.

Supporting grassroots efforts can advance workplace dignity.

Employee empowerment and recognition advance workplace dignity. Many employees may lead efforts focused on inclusion or community engagement, such as an employee resource group (ERG) or a volunteer initiative. Especially in the case of collectives like ERGs, grassroots efforts can advance dignity by offering safe places for individuals from underrepresented groups to discuss external or internal issues related to identity and inequities, support each other, help build cross-organization relationships, enhance learning and understanding, and offer opportunities for leadership development and support of organizational priorities.

These efforts are often used to promote the organizational culture to recruits, demonstrate commitment to employees, and bolster inclusion and diversity efforts, yet the time employees devote to them is often treated as pro-bono “side work.” Such an approach is unfair to those employee leaders who are helping the organization achieve greater equity (even while these same individuals are often simultaneously facing the challenges of being in underrepresented groups) and meet the public commitments. Unfairness diminishes dignity.

The key organizational functions that play a role:

  • Human resources teams

  • Executive leadership teams

  • Internal communications teams

  • Inclusion and diversity teams

  • Community engagement/foundation teams

What the organization can do: Actions

1. Actively and visibly support these efforts.

2. Encourage operational rigor for ERGs and related efforts.

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