Well-established companies are doing things like enhancing some existing programs they have in place, bringing in more inclusive programs, and just really building out and leaning in. New companies are starting down the path and building equity and inclusion right from the start-- so the products they're creating and the policies that their companies use. So we're seeing it really is a journey, and you can start from anywhere and go from there. And that's what you have.
That's wonderful to hear. And what you were just saying-- start from anywhere-- I'd like to pick up on that. I think a lot of organizations-- and this is evidenced by our data that we showed-- they want to have a strategy. They want to have initiatives in place. But they're not sure where to start. And I think one thing that may stand in their way is resources, especially for a smaller company, especially in this moment where we know that small businesses in America are recovering from COVID-19. So what are some ways that are low cost but very impactful to provide DEI resources if we don't have the budget to hire a dedicated DEI coordinator, for example?
Yeah, that's a great point you raise. And one really important thing that comes to mind for me are employee resource groups, and you mentioned some just recently. And they're free. Very often, employee resource groups grow sort of organically. Employees feel like they need a sense of community and are really trying to build a culture of inclusion. And so they can start organically or they can be an initiative that is driven through an HR department.
And like I said, they're free, but they can really provide underserved or underrepresented parts of the community or employees a place to feel like they belong. People with like experiences can get together and sort of share how they handle challenges in the workplace, how they handle their challenges in life, really. So it's bringing people together. And what often happens in these types of forums and affinity groups is they can point out some places that the company is missing for their consumers, for their colleagues, and really become almost a business resource group-- so to drive initiatives within the companies they work within.
And I think it's really important to talk about that support in the community and the way that people in these ERGs can get support from one another. But I also wanted to ask about cultivating allies in the workplace, because an effective DEI strategy isn't only about making sure that people who may have felt marginalized are feeling whole. Of course, that is the main goal. But it also requires buy-in from everybody. And how do you encourage that in an organization?
Well, I think the most important part of being an ally is listening, so not feeling like you have to have a solution or that you even have to understand the different affinity groups' inner struggles. It's about listening and being open and open to learning. And that's where that empathy comes in, and that's where that education happens, and that's what really can change a company's culture.
Which is wonderful. And I'm wondering if you can just share a couple words about your experiences. Clearly you're very experienced with ERGs. Any words of advice about starting one, getting one off the ground, getting leadership to be committed to it?
Yeah, absolutely. I've been involved with ERGs since about 2017 and joined the Pride Alliance to support my daughter. And little did I know that it would grow into such a passion of mine. And I'm really wanting to create that sense of inclusion at the workplace. I mean, we're at the office 40 hours a week-- now in our homes-- plus. It's really important to feel like we belong and, again, we have trust in our leaders.
So I think, to build allyship, it's to really be visible, to show your support, to bring people to the table who might not have a voice otherwise or may not be invited to that meeting or that call but could really benefit and share really important information that might not otherwise be heard had they not been there. So there's very simple things like that. Being open to not having all the answers-- that's a big one. And I think bringing in top leadership as executive sponsors of employee resource groups is very important, because that way you've got support from the top, which also encourages support throughout the other levels of the organization. But I think that's a great place for any company as far as employee resource groups.
Absolutely. Terri, thank you so much for stopping by and being able to join us today. It was wonderful hearing from you, and I hope that the organizations can take something from that. I know that I've learned a lot. And now I'd like to introduce a short video clip featuring Dr. Feranmi Okanlami. This is from a webinar he did last spring on DEI on inclusion for workers with permanent disabilities. Let's take a look.
Just look at what has changed in your workplace over this past year. You know that you think you want to go right back to where it was before. But before you return to the status quo, speak to your staff and your employees. Ask them which elements of this remote environment and of this pandemic period do they feel as those should be kept, because I could give specifics for every different organization, but it's going to be specific to the individuals within your team that will determine how you are best able to accommodate and provide inclusive environments for the people that you work with.
And so that may seem like sort of a cop-out answer, but it's because of the more I think about this, it shouldn't be a specific answer that I say today. It should be specific based on who you have and what their needs are within your organization. And trust me, many people will have their opinions as to what worked, and this is the opportunity that leaders have to then listen and actually then recognize that in order to retain those talented staff that you have, it would behoove you to then listen to some of the things that will continue to allow them to then want to return to work and do so happily.