The Rundown on ERGs

By Rational Equity Mission

Last Friday, we hosted Lucy Garate-Barros and Guillermo Vazquez for a Hispanic Heritage Month Brunch & Learn. Lucy and Guillermo lead HOLA, Microsoft’s employee resource group (ERG) for Hispanic and Latinx employees. We went looking for inspiration from other organizations who are leading the way as part of Rational’s deeper diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

While Rational isn’t yet at the size or scale to develop dedicated ERGs compared to Microsoft (currently equipped with seven ERGs with over 26,000 members!), there was still the opportunity for us to understand how to structure communication, education, and engagement.

Lucy and Guillermo shared special events, speakers, and inclusion activities that help to build community and encourage engagement. Most heartwarming for us was hearing their personal stories on how HOLA served to give each of them a sense of belonging and connection — ultimately, being a part of HOLA made their jobs at Microsoft more satisfying and rewarding.

“Let’s aim to be learn-it-alls rather than know-it-alls.”
- Guillermo Vasquez, Microsoft

Some key takeaways that helped to inform our group:

Dedication — Microsoft has ERGs for Asians, African-Americans, people with disabilities, LGBT/GLEAM, Hispanic/Latinx, parents, and women.

Organization — HOLA has three goals: recruiting fresh new faces, supporting the professional growth of their members, and supporting the community outside of Microsoft.

  • This model is common among diversity and inclusion initiatives: attract, retain, build community.
  • We were particularly drawn to their idea of “speed mentoring”, where they use their leadership-level connections to bring together young professionals with executives for a lightning round of mentoring.

Intersectionality — even among the Hispanic/Latinx ERG, there are differences: 1st generation, immigrant status, Spanish speaking, etc. HOLA celebrates these differences and works towards addressing any inequities that may pop up. For example, Guillermo shared that he defaults to speaking English until he’s certain a newcomer is speaking Spanish.

Unity — Microsoft’s ERG community works together to achieve one greater purpose, as opposed to fighting amongst each other for a budget. The ERGs co-host events and support each other.

Learning first-hand stories, goals, and activities to help bolster our initiative was a wonderful gift of time from Lucy and Guillermo.

Rational Ideas is the thought leadership hub for Rational, a digital agency and consultancy based in Seattle, WA.