As the world continues to become more diverse and multicultural, employers are leveraging their workforces and the knowledge within to usher in internal change and create welcoming environments for employees and customers alike. One way to do this is by turning to your most significant asset, the employees, and utilizing employee resource groups (ERGs) to facilitate these crucial conversations – and Mayo Clinic is at the top of its game. Check out the interview below to better understand how ERGs are valued, discover Mayo Clinic’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how its ERGs have nurtured a work environment where employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.

Q: You have an incredibly visible inclusion section on your career site. Share with me how ERGs have become a crucial element of your DE&I efforts?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to Mayo Clinic’s mission to provide excellent, culturally relevant care in a welcoming environment to patients from a wide variety of backgrounds. We are committed to creating a work environment of empowered belonging for everyone, so all perspectives and personal experiences are welcomed, acknowledged, and appreciated. One way to exemplify the Mayo Clinic Values is through Mayo Employee Resource Group participation, also known as a MERG (pronounced ‘merge’). These voluntary, employee-led groups are centered around different dimensions of diversity and designed to promote belonging, increase cultural awareness, and foster an environment of respect and inclusivity. The advocacy MERGs provide positively influences patient care, staff satisfaction, and community engagement.

Q: We love Mayo’s take on ERGs! How many MERGs does your company have, and what kind?

There are 35 MERGs across all Mayo Clinic locations, with many having common goals. Some of the MERGs focus on dimensions of diversity relating to:

  • African American and Black
  • Arab
  • Asian
  • Disability
  • Emerging leaders
  • Global health
  • Hispanic and Latina/o/x
  • Indian
  • Iranian
  • Leadership opportunities for women
  • LGBTQ+
  • Military/Veteran
  • Multicultural nurses
  • Native American
  • Parents, families, and caregivers

Q: This is such an expansive and diverse list! With so many MERGs, how does your company support these programs?

Each MERG has an Executive Sponsor who is an influential, high-level leader at Mayo Clinic to champion MERG efforts. The Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity supports all MERGs across the enterprise providing guidance, tools, and resources.

Q: How do you encourage employees and/or new hires to join ERGs?

Information during orientation is provided to new hires regarding our MERGs. We also send a follow-up email at the new hire’s 3-month mark to create awareness.

Q: Mayo Clinic certainly has established MERGs that are active and thriving. For those who are just starting ERGs, what suggestions or advice can you offer?

I would recommend offering an open house or World Café to learn more about employee needs and structure your ERG vision and goals around what you learn.

Q: With this month being National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), share with us a little bit about your MERG for individuals with disabilities and its participation – especially now given that many roles are now remote.

We have Disability MERGs in Rochester, Arizona, and Florida that are very active. The Disability Mayo Employee Resource Groups strive to improve the work environment and patient experience for people with both visible or invisible disabilities. Membership in Rochester is over 200. As a result of more employees working remotely during COVID-19, the three MERGs began collaborating on virtual events that provide education on various disability topics.

Q: What success stories can you share as a result of having an ERG focused on supporting employees with disabilities?

One of the Disability MERG success stories was launching the ‘I am!’ campaign to strengthen inclusivity for staff with disabilities. 

The Disability Mayo Employee Resource Group (MERG), in partnership with the Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity launched a Self-ID Campaign. Mayo Clinic continually strives to improve inclusiveness and support the success of all staff. Participating in the Self-ID Campaign will create a culture of safety for all to bring their best self to work. Disability disclosure is voluntary and confidential and the information the employee chooses to share cannot be tracked to a particular individual, and is used only to improve Mayo Clinic’s overall diversity efforts.

Mayo Clinic’s recognition for diversity, equity, and inclusion proves its ERGs are going a long way and supporting the growth of an inclusive work and patient environment. Check out the Mayo Clinic career site to see how they’ve proudly displayed these awards and illustrated to future employees the priority placed on diversity. A special thank you to Dawn K. at Mayo Clinic for allowing us to look inside their programs and share the incredible work they are doing along with other employers around the nation.

Have additional questions? I encourage you to connect with the Mayo Clinic team in DE Connect or start a discussion post to gather insights and crowdsource information from your fellow Members!

Jaime Costilow
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