Aug 31, 2023

DE&I maturity for ERGs and diversity councils part 3: Safety and strength needs

Lanie Davis
Rhea Horton

Lanie Davis and Rhea Horton

DE&I maturity for ERGs and diversity councils part 3: Safety and strength needs

As we continue our series on Credera’s employee resource groups (ERGs)/diversity councils (DC) Hierarchy of Transformation, we focus on meeting a critical need of distinctly mature diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) groups—safety and strength.

Successful DE&I groups require highly engaged employees and leaders who participate in the free flow of ideas and perspectives to make well-informed decisions. Highly engaged employees also result in improved retention and business outcomes, thus nurturing this step is key to realizing the impact of diverse voices to business innovation.

Safety and strength takes work

Safety and strength work together to build engaged and cohesive ERGs and DCs. Let’s start with definitions.

  • The Harvard Business Review defines team psychological safety as “a shared belief held by members of a team that it’s OK to take risks, to express their ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes—all without fear of negative consequences.”

  • Strength refers to the way in which a diverse leadership team strengthens and influences DE&I groups as they continue to grow and mature.

These ideas of psychological safety and strength can be easy to imagine but rather difficult to manifest. A psychologically safe environment doesn’t just happen because the team is made up of incredible people who are amiable to work with. Often, there are intangible nuances within the team dynamic that can make it difficult for someone to share a new idea for fear of rejection. Maybe your ERG/DC is experiencing a lack of input from your group members or your group is largely led by the voice of one member. Maybe you notice that your leadership team tends to make decisions biased toward one goal, motivation, or group.

When it comes to creating a safe environment, the impact your ERGs and DCs should have are limitless, so if you are experiencing this within your project teams and departments, this is a warning sign of an unsafe work environment. In a group with so many perspectives and backgrounds, we can be sure that ideas and perspectives are not lacking, but rather the felt security to share those ideas and perspectives may be what’s missing.

Credera’s approach: Keys to building a psychologically safe workplace

1. Assess employee engagement among members and allies.

To create a safe workplace culture, you must begin with listening to your employees. What makes them feel heard? Known? Cared for? It’s a necessity to understand how your employees best contribute and engage in DE&I groups to foster this interaction.

2. Celebrate your members often and in a variety of ways.

No one employee is the same and with our differences comes a variety of preferences for celebration and recognition. Begin by listening to your employees and then implement structures and processes to celebrate the different aspects and interests of your members.

3. Create opportunities for leaders to be vulnerable with members.

Creating an inclusive, engaging culture begins with leadership. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability so if leadership is willing to be vulnerable in front of employees, employees will be encouraged to do the same.

4. Evaluate leadership team’s decision-making processes.

Take an honest inventory of previous decisions and assess how those decisions were made and what processes were used to make them. This may reveal potential biases, that when addressed, will strengthen the influence of the leadership team.

Up next

In our next installment of the ERG/DC Hierarchy of Transformation we will talk about the importance of establishing belonging and impact within your DE&I groups. As a quick preview, fulfilling the needs of level three, belonging and impact, focuses on connecting employees to a larger purpose resulting in measurable impact.

Establishing psychological safety in your workplace

Fulfilling safety and strength needs is all about listening to your people, knowing your people, and using that knowledge to build cultures that make your employees feel safe to share ideas, perspectives, and experiences. Creating this type of culture, where ideas are shared often, is the foundation for innovation. Reach out to one of our ERG/DC and DE&I experts at for more information on how Credera’s ERG/DC Hierarchy of Transformation can be used to assess your workplace culture, map out a strategy for establishing psychological safety, and take action toward your future state vision.

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