How Employee Resource Groups Support Diversity
By: Carolyn K., Beau H. & Chelsey S.
To meet our goal of helping people thrive in work and life, building a positive and inclusive environment is key. That’s why we’ve created Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that help establish ‘Schwabbie’ communities where individuals feel valued, represented, and empowered to make an impact throughout the field of finance.
While we’re more alike than we are different, each of us is unique – with multiple dimensions that make up who we are. Some dimensions of our identity may be visible through our appearance, while other characteristics are less readily seen and instead can be shared through interaction with others.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are one ways Schwab embraces diversity and provides a space for such interactions. ERGs are formed by employees who come together around a common interest, shared characteristics, or life experiences. Every employee is welcome to join any or multiple ERGs as either a person that identifies with the group, or as an ally to the group.
Geraldine O., a leader in Finance based in Orlando, came to be involved in Schwab ERG groups by way of personal experience. As a Puerto Rican woman, mom of twins (one with Cerebral Palsy and the other with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia), stepmom to a non-binary young adult and stepdaughter of a veteran, she’s seen the importance of championing diversity and being an ally to underrepresented groups.
For Geraldine, Schwab’s ERGs have played an important role in empowering her to explore, grow and connect with all aspects of her authentic self. Throughout her nearly 10-year career at Schwab, she has been involved with many ERGs and employee interest groups, including: Schwab Organization of Latinx (SOL), Black Professionals at Charles Schwab (BPACS), Charles Schwab Ability Network (CSAN), Women’s Interactive Network at Schwab (WINS), and the Finance Employee Engagement and Development (FEED) Team.
“This is who I am and what I’m trying to do,” explains Geraldine. “I’m the type of person who spreads herself across different ERGs, because there are different parts of me captured in each ERG. It’s important to share pieces of myself and help be an ally to align with something that I may not look like I align with.”
Geraldine has found that participating in an ERG can help instill comradery and allow employees to feel that they can be comfortable at work. “ERGs are a very important part of our culture because they provide opportunities for engagement and activities for people to meet others and come together and feel a sense of belonging, even virtually in our remote work environment.”
Geraldine has also seen how ERGs can drive personal and professional growth. “They provide role model and development opportunities for public speaking and leading events – skills that are needed to advance,” she explains.
ERGs can also help to educate and strengthen acceptance. After the birth of her first son, Geraldine experienced a stigma associated with his disability. She believes that sharing her experience through CSAN is an opportunity to help others.
“I always encourage people to join ERGs. There are so many ERG moments that make a difference,” explains Geraldine. “My daughter who is non-binary was pleasantly surprised by my family’s reaction. Our Pride ERG has helped to educate and provide us with the language to use. Men who join WINS may be able to better relate to their daughters. I grew up in an African American neighborhood and my sister is darker and has had different experiences than me as an adult. BPACS feels like home to me.”
Across each of the ERGs Geraldine is involved with, there’s a constant and focused effort to continually provide members and allies with the support they need to become the best versions of themselves. This effort often takes the form of things like development resources, community outreach, events and event recordings, and networking opportunities – to name a few. Geraldine sees this effort as a tangible example of how our firm truly ‘walks the walk’ when it comes to valuing the unique experiences and backgrounds that Schwabbies bring to work every day. In her words, Schwab’s culture is “inclusive, the type of environment you want to be part of, that welcomes you as you are.”
By: Carolyn K., Beau H. & Chelsey S.