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Using Employee Groups to Maximize Volunteer Impact

3 minute read | April 2016

By Andrea Moore, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Sherri Dublin, Director, Diversity Programs, Diversity & Inclusion

Employees in a company are not only connected by their shared work, but also by shared interests, passions, backgrounds and causes. Yet it can be daunting to figure out how thousands of employees can connect with each other from different locations and identify their shared affinities, let alone leverage them to maximize business and social impact. How can companies make this happen?

At Nielsen, our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have been the answer to this question. As part of our Diversity & Inclusion strategy, our ERGs are inclusive, global, employee-driven organizations created to enable professional development, assist with recruitment and retention, and engage with clients and community outreach initiatives. ERGs support our business initiatives, and each has senior leaders as executive sponsors to ensure guidance and support. The groups also cultivate the Nielsen Employee Experience, where employees can “Be Yourself, Make a Difference, and Grow with Us.” As a result, the ERG chapter leader roles have become highly visible skill development and networking opportunities for associates. Nielsen currently has seven ERG groups:

  • Asian Americans Link (AAL);
  • Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together (ADEPT);
  • Hispanic Organization of Leaders in Action (HOLA);
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Allies (PRIDE);
  • Sustaining Active Black Leadership and Empowerment (SABLE);
  • Support and Employee Resources for Veterans (SERV); and
  • Women in Nielsen (WIN).

ERGs have given our associates, no matter where they are, a common language and engagement tools to connect with each other within and across chapters. These connections have become even more powerful when ERG members bring their skills, passions and insights to their community through Nielsen Cares volunteer opportunities. ERG members volunteer together in a variety of ways—from day-long opportunities on Nielsen Global Impact Day, our annual celebration of service in June, to longer-term relationships that deliver Nielsen data and insights to nonprofits. Here are just a few examples:

  • HOLA worked with a Hispanic community organization in New York City on Nielsen Global Impact Day to help immigrants in the community practice for their U.S. citizenship exams.
  • Through PRIDE, Nielsen and GLAAD have worked together since 2008 and recently, through Harris Poll (a Nielsen company), collected data for GLAAD’s second Accelerating Acceptance report, which explores sentiments about LGBT people across the nation.
  • ADEPT volunteers have worked with Special Olympics across many areas for more than five years, including surveying athletes at the USA National Games in 2014 and the World Summer Games in 2015.
  • In 2016, WIN, SABLE and other Nielsen teams/associates are starting to work with the global nonprofit Dress for Success to coordinate a bigger impact across chapters in the U.S.—from handbag drives for International Women’s Day to engaging more closely with local Dress for Success offices, as well as remote volunteer opportunities.

Nielsen uses the Groups functionality in YourCause to create ERG and office location groups, so that leaders can add events for members to easily find and sign up, track their members’ volunteer hours, post event photos, and maintain records of past volunteer events. Today, there are 47 different ERG groups on YourCause, and engagement in the platform as a central mechanism to organize volunteer sign-ups and activity continues to grow.

Geographically, Nielsen’s ERGs began in the U.S., and they now execute and operate across seven U.S. regions (Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest). Internationally, WIN in particular has expanded across our regions, including Canada, India, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. In 2016, WIN just launched in our Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific (SEANAP) region on International Women’s Day. PRIDE has chapters in Canada, and along with ADEPT, has also begun expanding in Europe.

At Nielsen, we believe that diversity of backgrounds and perspectives helps us better understand and represent the markets that we serve. ERGs allow our associates to identify themselves and their diverse interests to engage with each other internally, while connecting them externally to make a social impact in the communities where we live and work.

This article originally appeared on the YourCause blog