GenNext's Employee Resource Group's journey to elevating diversity through early career progression at Ericsson
Submitted by Ericsson
In Ericsson’s ongoing quest to be an employer of choice, a specific need was identified to create an avenue for Early Career Professionals (ECPs) to connect, exchange knowledge, and share their career journeys and voice with the broader Ericsson community. As a result, in 2018, the D&I team in Market Area North America (MANA) founded a small group of 5-7 individuals with a passion to bring people together. That group ultimately formed the MANA GenNext ERG (Employee Resource Group).
Fast forward to 2023, and the GenNext ERG Core Team is now 16 people strong, with an extended execution team of 200+ active volunteers and an overall membership of 450+ individuals across the US and Canada. Through their initiatives, the GenNext ERG will grow and shape the next generation of Ericsson as well as equipping the current generations with the tools they need to succeed in their career at Ericsson.
GenNext is united around three pillars:
1. Attraction and retention toward Ericsson by supporting the internship programs and new college graduate program by providing companions, events, and opportunities for these employees to have a positive onboarding experience and stay informed, connected and engaged.
2. Growth & Upskilling by hosting quarterly learning sessions as well as an annual Competence Development Summit to grow the critical skills needed to deliver on the Ericsson Business Strategy.
3. Community and Support by hosting multiple networking, mentorship, and volunteer events as well as the annual Tech Camp, which is focused on spreading STEM knowledge to employee’s children and extended non-profit partnerships.
As a result of the GenNext ERG’s success with key organizational programs tied to these pillars and the impact of the change created by its passionate members, the GenNext ERG was recognized as the Top 3 ERG at the 2022 Diversity Impact Awards.
The GenNext ERG’s success was built upon several factors that have been developed on its journey of growth.
1. Have a clearly defined North Star from the beginning
As its organic growth started picking up steam, the GenNext ERG partnered with the D&I team to clearly defined the missions, pillars, and programs needed to align to Ericsson’s goals.
The GenNext ERG mission is to “Promote career development and motivate Ericsson’s emerging talent, provide a platform for elevating the voice of early career professionals and create a positive impact for our community.” And the three pillars are “Attraction & Retention, Growth & Upskilling, and Community & Support.”
2. Start small, find champions, and organize
As a voluntary group, creating change must be done organically and with purpose. When the GenNext ERG was founded, it started with 7 Core Team members who led ad hoc projects as time allowed. As more people wanted to get involved, the GenNext ERG found leaders who could take on larger projects and responsibilities.
Once membership reached 200 individuals, the Core Team organized into targeted verticals to ensure priorities were purpose-driven and organized. For members with limited bandwidth, the GenNext ERG pioneered an Execution Team layer created to support the Core Team when bandwidth was available. The Core Team evolved into individuals focused on specific passions and organizational priorities to grow the knowledge, network, and inclusivity of ECPs.
3. Have involved executive leaders focused on the mission of inclusivity
The GenNext ERG’s executive sponsors and the D&I team were instrumental in guiding the ERG and giving constant feedback, as well as being receptive to the feedback provided by the ERG’s leadership. Through the partnerships with key organizational leaders, the GenNext ERG received strategic direction, created a channel of two-way feedback, and received sponsorship for the ERG’s key initiatives.
4. Find niches within the company
Through partnerships and discussions with executives, company leaders, and its members, the GenNext ERG found key areas in which there was the most need and could create the most impact. Some examples of these include GenNext partnerships with the People Team (ex. University Relations, Talent Management, and Talent Acquisition, Learning & Development and People Business Partners) to create impactful internship experiences, companionship program and leadership development opportunities.
5. Track Key Performance Indicators
While the GenNext ERG does track companywide metrics like ECP promotions, employee counts, etc., the ERG is focused more on the People aspect of the members that it could directly influence, such as how many learning hours we established, the number of new connections created at networking events, and how much engagement was created on social media.
The GenNext ERG also contributes significantly to the Workplace of the Future (better known as the Imagine Possible) initiative, whose goal is to increase the number of intern conversions, embracing new college graduates into the business while simultaneously supporting the upskilling and reskilling of the entire Ericsson workforce.
The GenNext ERG is heavily involved in the Workplace of the Future initiative, which has the goal to significantly increase the number of interns converted and new college grads brought into the business while also upskilling the entire workforce. Going forward, the ERG plans to expand its reach across middle management and executive leadership while spreading chapters around the globe to support early career professionals’ development across the company through its mission-focused initiatives.
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