Be an ally: Business, employee resource groups invite employees to help build inclusive workplace
Collectives of employees of similar backgrounds are helping Penn State Health become more diverse and inclusive. And they need help.
At the health system, Business and Employee Resource Groups, or BERGs, spark candid conversations at regular meetings and seminars. They inspire a consistent focus on issues like diversity and inclusiveness. And their work is changing the culture at Penn State Health, says Lynette Chappell-Williams, vice president and chief diversity officer at Penn State Health.
“Our employee resource groups have been an integral component of Penn State Health’s commitment to creating a respectful and inclusive workforce, providing culturally responsive care for our patients and making discoveries that improve the care environment for all populations, regardless of background,” Chappell-Williams said.
And they’re growing. As 2022 begins, Penn State Health’s BERG members are in Dauphin County, on West Shore and in Berks and Lancaster counties. The groups will focus on issues affecting various employee populations, such as individuals with disabilities, military/veterans, individuals of different faiths and spiritual beliefs, members of the LGBTQ communities, individuals from racial/ethnic minority populations, and employees from Generations Y and Z. A group of military and veteran employees have members in Lebanon County as well.
You have a chance to take part in the change.
Join a BERG
In all four regions and Lebanon County, BERGs are looking for additional employees to drive initiatives for the various populations they represent to create a better workplace and patient care environment.
Members need an hour each month to participate in a virtual meeting and approximately three additional hours a year to assist with the implementation of initiatives recommended by the BERG.
For more information or to express an interest in joining one of the groups, employees can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at 717-531-1012. Look for more information about the groups, their meetings and their leaders in the Daily Brief.
For more than 50 years, the need for community and a sense of belonging has driven many organizations to establish employee resource groups to focus on creating more inclusive cultures. According to an Oct. 31 Wall Street Journal article, about 90% of companies nationwide have established employee resource groups, and, according to a McKinsey & Company/Leanin.org study, in 2020, about 35% of organizations nationwide established or expanded their employee resource groups.
Penn State Health’s first version of a BERG came in 2010 at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to facilitate discussions and generate ideas for a respectful work and patient care environment. That first group was established to address issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.
By 2017, Penn State Health employees formed similar groups to address issues involving military members and veterans, multicultural concerns, interfaith discussions, people with disabilities and generational concerns. The groups were structured to provide support to employees, bring employees together and raise awareness of issues facing marginalized populations.
Bringing employees together
In 2021, the groups revised themselves to align with the health system’s business objectives. They now:
- support diverse employee recruitment
- advance employee engagement and leadership opportunities
- advocate for greater use of diverse businesses
- identify strategies for an inclusive work and patient-care environment
- make recommendations for inclusive marketing and branding
- work to build a culture of being an upstander—supporting and advocating for others
BERGs meet virtually once a month and work closely with an executive leader to advance specific annual goals. For each region of the four regions – Berks, Dauphin, Lancaster, and West Shore – BERGs include military/veteran employees, multicultural employees (those from different racial/ethnic groups), interfaith populations (focusing on religion and comparable beliefs), employees with disabilities and those who care for individuals with disabilities, NexGen (employees in their 20s and 30s), and LGBTQ+ employees and allies.
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