by Alan Chavoya, M.A. Candidate, Department of Philosophy, Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
The Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion has launched the pilot phase of its initiative to support Employee Resource Groups. The university established these groups to support employees from a broad range of backgrounds in response to concerns about a sense of belonging on campus in the 2016 climate study, and as part of the Marquette’s commitment to becoming a more diverse and inclusive community.
While some ERGs have existed on Marquette’s campus for some time, the university has formalized a structure to support their development. Modeled after a similar initiative at Princeton University, these ERGs are designed to provide additional spaces on campus for employees to build personal and professional relationships, develop inclusive communities, and engage more deeply with the greater Milwaukee community.
Marquette currently has the following six ERGs: Latinx Faculty and Staff Association (LaFASA), LGBTQ Employee Resource Group, Marquette Black Faculty and Staff Network, Marquette Moms, Marquette Social Professionals, and Women of Color Resource Group. While the ERG model is based on common background or interest, in the spirit of inclusivity, any employee can join any ERG.
“LaFASA provides a safe space to share our stories and voice concerns,” said Kimberly Salas Harris, vice president of LaFASA. “Next academic year, we plan on hosting monthly members meetings, professional development sessions and a few social mixers.”
Although providing opportunities for community building is important for Marquette’s ERGs, they are also significantly committed to advocacy. Each ERG has a liaison in the University Leadership Council to provide a voice with administrative leadership and to ensure their impact on the entire institution. Prospective hires can also meet with these ERGs to know that they will be supported and included as members of the Marquette community.
Dr. William Welburn, executive director for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, points out that ERGs are beneficial to hiring and retention. “ERGs signal to job seekers that we aim to be inclusive and to provide opportunities for people with shared identities and interests to get together under the aegis of Marquette,” he says. “Also, they can be called upon by search committees to help attract good candidates for positions across Marquette’s campus and to meet with candidates and new hires when it is appropriate to do so.”