DirectEmployer’s Employee Resource Group is back and stronger than ever through the first quarter of 2024. To recap from 2023, we were very excited to have exceeded our goal by 18% of employee participation in the first year of launching our ERG. Since then, we have launched 5 additional sub-groups of our ERG and have already increased by 13% employee participation with an outstanding total of 51% of our employees participating in one or more of the groups! All thanks to an incredible team of ERG leaders and Executive Sponsors, we are off to a great start in helping to shape and define our culture here at DirectEmployers. Let’s take a look at what each of our groups have been up to!

Mental Health & Invisible Illnesses ERG

Led by co-leaders Mikey Meagher and Ruth Toombs, and with the support of Executive Sponsor Hal Cooper, the ERG has shown remarkable engagement, achieving a participation rate of 60.25% in its first quarter. This strong start reflects our collective commitment to fostering an open and supportive work environment while making it a vital part of our culture.

During our initial four meetings, we embarked on discussions that ranged from sharing personal self-care strategies to understanding how what soothes one person might stress another. These conversations not only broadened our understanding of diverse coping mechanisms but also highlighted the uniqueness of everyone’s journey with mental health.

A pivotal aspect of our discussions involved addressing the challenges of speaking openly about mental health with managers. Many members shared their apprehensions, and through these exchanges, we discovered that we were not alone in our feelings. Importantly, those who had positive experiences shared their best practices, offering valuable insights on how to effectively navigate these conversations. This collective wisdom is instrumental in breaking down the barriers of stigma and fostering a more understanding workplace.

Our group has taken significant steps to support the mental health community, not just in spirit but also in action. A recent initiative involved purchasing shirts that supports and drives awareness to mental health. In doing so, our group also learned that one of our very own, Jeff Ringgenberg, owns and operates a mental health awareness apparel company, Ink + Quill!

Additionally, the ERG has launched a collective steps challenge with an ambitious goal: to take 9 million steps together. Once we reach this goal, we plan to donate to an organization chosen by each participant, thereby multiplying our impact on the community and promoting physical activity as a component of mental health.

The Mental Health & Invisible Illnesses ERG continues to grow as a vital part of our organization, driving forward conversations and actions that make a real difference. As we move forward, we remain committed to supporting each other, breaking down stigmas, and promoting wellness in all aspects of life.

Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN)

The Women’s Inclusion Network is co-led by Kim Lott and Yahaira Battiata, whose dedication and vision have been instrumental in shaping the network’s goals and activities. Their leadership, supported by Executive Sponsor Jaime Costilow, has paved the way for an inspiring start to this empowering journey.

In its first quarter alone, WIN has seen remarkable engagement, with 62% of our employees participating. This strong start underscores the collective desire among our team to engage with and support each other’s growth and success.

One of the first initiatives undertaken by the network was to highlight the amazing women within DirectEmployers. By sharing detailed profiles, we learned not only about each other’s professional skills but also about the diverse talents and interests that our colleagues bring to the table. This initiative helped forge stronger bonds and fostered a deeper understanding and appreciation of the unique backgrounds and experiences that enrich our workplace.

The network has also provided a platform for open conversations about challenges and aspirations specific to women in the workplace. A particularly impactful session was led by Mark Booker from Good Games, who facilitated an enlightening discussion on leadership. This conversation helped us distill the essential skills and characteristics that define effective leadership, revealing a shared vision among the group members.

Extending its impact beyond the office, the group organized an offsite event at the Hope Center in Indianapolis. The visit not only allowed members to learn about the center’s mission of providing comprehensive care for survivors of human trafficking but also reinforced our commitment to supporting vulnerable groups within the community.

In celebration of Women’s National History Month, the Women’s Inclusion Network provided resources for employees to participate in the International Women’s Day event hosted by the Indiana Commission for Women. Members of WIN had inclusive access to the event with both virtual and in-person attendance!

As we reflect on the successful launch and activities of the Women’s Inclusion Network, we are encouraged by the enthusiasm and support it has harvested. This initiative not only highlights the strengths and aspirations of the women at DirectEmployers, but also sets a precedent for how other organizations can effectively support and empower their female employees.


In our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, DirectEmployers proudly launched ConnectAbility, an Employee Resource Group (ERG) dedicated to enhancing awareness and support for disabilities within our workplace. Fiercely led by Christa Martin and supported by Executive Sponsor Candee Chambers, ConnectAbility has quickly become a vital part of our community, with an impressive 72% participation in its first quarter!

ConnectAbility’ s journey began with an enlightening session led by Mark Booker from Good Games, who shared vital statistics and insights about disability employment and demographics. This initial meeting set the stage for our goals and aspirations as a group, encouraging each member to share their personal motivations for joining the ERG. These stories—our “personal whys”—have deepened our understanding and commitment to the group’s mission, reinforcing the personal stakes involved in our collective effort.

Our second monthly meeting brought even more excitement and engagement, with Mark Booker joining us again to lead the “Numbers on the Edge” game, which featured fun facts around World Glaucoma Day.

A highlight of our recent activities was the participation of Bev Harp, Project Director of the Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers (ISAW) at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute. Bev shared her personal journey as an Autistic professional, offering a unique perspective that is not often heard in corporate settings. Bev provided invaluable insights into the challenges and triumphs of neurodiverse individuals in the workplace.

Bev’s role in driving company culture and policy change is a powerful reminder of the impact that informed and compassionate leadership can have on creating inclusive environments. Her work is helping to transform employers into Autism Informed Employers, which not only supports individuals on the spectrum but also enhances our workplace with a broader range of talents and perspectives.

As ConnectAbility continues to grow, our focus remains on fostering an inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and supported. The ERG is more than just a group; it’s a movement towards greater understanding, support, and advocacy for disabilities in the workplace!

Faith in Action

Diversity extends beyond visible differences—it captures a wide array of cultural, spiritual, and personal beliefs. To celebrate and embrace this diversity, we introduced the Faith in Action Employee Resource Group, proudly led by Deanna Cross. In just the first quarter, the group achieved an astounding 93% participation rate, demonstrating a strong interest and commitment from our employees!

Faith in Action kicked off with members introducing themselves and sharing insights into their individual faith journeys. This opening session was not only a testament to the diversity within our group but also a wonderful opportunity for members to connect on a deeper level, building an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

A key component of our meetings has been education and sharing. We hosted a Kahoot quiz focused on Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—the primary faith groups represented within our ERG. This engaging and interactive session allowed members to test their knowledge and learn more about each other’s beliefs in a fun and supportive setting.

In addition to recognizing the value of understanding beyond our immediate circle, we also dedicated time to learn about other world religions. This broader perspective helps us appreciate all faiths that influence and shape our global community.

True to our name, Faith in Action is committed to not just talking about faith but actively living it through service and kindness. Members enthusiastically shared ideas for volunteering and making donations, which are excellent ways for us to put our faith into practice. These activities not only help those in need but also bring us closer together as a group.

During our meetings, we’ve also taken the time to share personal anecdotes, including fun facts that others might not know about us, and stories from our first or worst jobs. These lighter moments have been crucial in building camaraderie and a friendly atmosphere within the group.

Looking ahead, we have outlined a potential timeline of meetings and events for the remainder of the year. This planning ensures that we continue to grow in our faith and service, while also providing ample opportunities for fellowship and community building.

As we move forward, the Faith in Action ERG remains dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment where all team members can share and celebrate their faith openly and respectfully. Our activities and discussions aim not only to gain understanding, but also to inspire us to make a positive impact in the community and demonstrate the power of faith in action.


In a vibrant effort to support our veterans and their families within and beyond our organization, VetConnect, our dedicated Employee Resource Group (ERG) for veterans, has made a significant impact since its inception. Co-led by Mike Witt and Ralph DiBenedetto, and with Shannon Offord as the Executive Sponsor, VetConnect has quickly acclaimed a 62% participation rate in its first quarter!

One of the first achievements of VetConnect was the selection of a logo that represents our unity at DirectEmployers and our support for military individuals, families, and supporters across the organization. This logo has become a symbol of our collective commitment and pride, resonating with our core values of respect, support, and recognition for those who have served.

VetConnect has also provided a platform for learning from experienced voices in the veteran community. We were privileged to hear from the Director of Veteran Recruitment from one of DirectEmployer’s member companies. He shared his journey in developing their Veteran ERG and discussed the various initiatives implemented to support veterans both internally within the organization and in the wider community. His insights were not only inspiring but also provided a valuable blueprint for what we aspire to achieve with VetConnect.

A recent survey conducted among VetConnect members, which received an incredible response rate of 100%, revealed profound insights into why staff members are eager to participate and their visions for the future of this ERG. Here are some of the highlights shared by our team:

  1. Understanding and Sharing Experiences: Many members expressed a desire to learn about the experiences of other veterans or their families. Understanding these personal journeys is seen as a way to build empathy and strengthen connections within our community.
  2. Enhancing Awareness: Participants are keen to learn more about colleagues who have served or are closely connected to someone who has.
  3. Training and Awareness: There is a strong interest in participating in military cultural awareness training to help employees better understand the unique aspects of military life and how they can support veterans and their families.
  4. Community Engagement: Employees are enthusiastic about being involved in community events that support veterans.
  5. Collaboration: There is a clear desire to collaborate with other veteran ERGs from member organizations. Such partnerships can enhance our reach and impact, creating a network of support that benefits all involved.
  6. Giving Back: Above all, there is a shared commitment to giving back to the veteran community, a sentiment that drives many of our initiatives and events.

As VetConnect continues to grow and evolve, the input and enthusiasm of our members are shaping it into a powerful force for good. Our collective efforts are not only enhancing the lives of veterans and their families but also pushing forward our own workplace culture. We look forward to continuing this journey of service, support, and community engagement, making a lasting impact both within and outside of DirectEmployers!

Across our employee resource groups—Mental Health & Invisible Illnesses ERG, Women’s Inclusion Network, ConnectAbility, Faith in Action, and VetConnect—we’ve seen strong engagement to foster inclusivity, understanding, and support. Each group moves the needle forward in creating our organizational culture, empowering employees, and strengthening community ties. As we march on, we remain dedicated to providing our employees with a platform to be heard and advocates for one another!

Mikey Meagher
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