How Business Resource Groups Ensure You Have the Best Talent, Service and Inclusive Culture

How Business Resource Groups Ensure You Have the Best Talent, Service and Inclusive Culture
August 6, 2020 mcdaniels

How Business Resources Groups Ensure You Have the Best Talent, Service and Inclusive Culture

“We see you. We hear you. We want to know your thoughts on how we can improve.” One of the most powerful things you can do to help drive a diverse and inclusive culture in your workforce is to make sure employees feel like their voices are heard and understood. But, that doesn’t mean you can send out a simple survey and be done with it. In order to get a true sense of what your employees are thinking, you have to create intentional spaces and opportunities to share.

For Damian Hanft, Vice President of Training & Team Member Activation at Buffalo Wild Wings – Inspire Brands, that meant the creation of new networks across their brand called Business Resource Groups (BRGs).

“We believe that only through a diverse workforce can we ensure that we have the best talent and thereby deliver the best service to our guests and the best results to our shareholders,” shares Damian. “That means in order to maximize the quality of talent throughout our company, we cannot fundamentally under-index in one or more pools of qualified talent. We have to promote an inclusive environment and embrace diversity of background and thought to reach the best business decisions.”

What are Business Resource Groups?

Before we dive into how Business Resource Groups can help you bring in the best talent and drive the culture of your organization, let’s take a look at what a Business Resource Group actually is. Previously thought of as a social outlet for race- and gender-based workplace communities, Business Resource Groups are just one of many names given to networks that help bring individuals together.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the many types of groups that drive business in the workplace.

Damian Hanft,
Vice President of Training &
Team Member Activation
at Buffalo Wild Wings

Business Resource Groups: Black, Latino, Women, LBGT, Asian, Vets, Disabled, Generations, Other, Regions
Business Impact Areas: Recruitment/Retention, Community Outreach, Pro Development, HR Policy, Marketing to Employees, Marketing to Customers, Cultural Assimilation, Government Relations, Product Development, Global Development

Damian’s group at Inspire Brands made sure they set up their foundation to do Business Resource Groups right by putting their mission/purpose into writing.

“The purpose of our Business Resources Groups is ‘to serve as a resource to the organization to positively influence the environment, to ensure professional development of its members, and to assist the organization in achieving its diversity and inclusion mission,” shares Damian. “This was our framework and guiding light as we started creating these new groups within our organization.”

Some of the goals Inspire Brands seeks to achieve with their BRGs is to:

  • Create an internal support system for team members
  • Promote team members leadership and development
  • Provide a resource to help the organization identify how to attract and retain diverse talent (they have made a massive impact in this area)
  • Assist in creating a diverse and inclusive environment (which ties back to their culture)

How do you create a new Business Resource Group?

Inspire Brands initially started two Business Resource Groups, one for Veterans and one for the Pride group. While both groups had twenty-plus people express interest in joining the launch, the Veterans groups started off with about 14 people and the Pride group started with 12. Damian noted that scheduling events like this during work hours when there is a lot going on continues to be one of the challenges they work to overcome.

Each member that noted they wanted to be part of one of these group was sent the following questions to launch the initial kickoff:

  • What do you hope to gain by joining this group?
  • What topics would you like to see covered at future BRG meetings or gatherings?
  • How do you anticipate this group could help your career?
  • What role do you see yourself playing?

“Because I kicked off the Veterans group and then a week later the Pride group, I saw some interesting trends,” shares Damian. “As people were coming together, there were clearly some different themes that evolved on what individuals thought the group was as well as what they wanted to get out of it. For some of the members in both groups, it was the social aspect and looking to be able to relate to people that they shared an affinity with. In other cases, it was more advocacy-driven and wanting to see some social changes or impact culture in a certain way. And for others, it turned into looking at embedding this affinity with the greater community as a whole.”

This naturally created three different subgroups that Inspire Brands has broken into committees as they moved forward. These subgroups include:

  • Business Resource (how do I support the organization)
  • Social/Events
  • Community Resources (reaching out to local causes)

“From there, those involved took it a step further with varying levels of involvement,” shares Damian. “Some people wanted to be at the forefront of planning, organizing, and being involved in providing guidance and direction. Other individuals just wanted to be part of the group, loving the affirmation it offered but didn’t want to be part of the actual governance and staging of the group.”

How do BRGs evolve for greater community impact?

The evolution and impact of Inspire Brands Business Resource Groups has been encouraging and beneficial to their organization as a whole. A year and a half after launch, they are connecting the purpose and mission of the BRGs to the field.

“What we’ve done is establish a chapter leader hierarchy. So at the Support Center there is a chapter leader. At Oklahoma City, we have a chapter leader. We’re adding chapter leaders into different geographical markets where we have company locations,” shares Damian. “This provides individuals the opportunity to join on a localized basis.”

In an organization that has a couple hundred thousand on our payroll overall, breaking it down to a local Support Center level has a huge impact on how people perceive their voice is being heard and issues are being addressed. Some of the events they have had include:

  • Pride education. Someone in the group spoke on behalf of transgender rights, advocating what this is and allowing people to be free to speak about misassumptions on what they think about it.
  • Veterans benefits. A special “Show Me Your Benefits” roundtable was held that highlighted benefits available to veterans in Georgia. The leader of their benefits group also joined because they wanted this to be a partnership with their organization. They were able to listen to thoughts and create a fact sheet of benefits available, then connect the dots and offer other things that people would like, bringing the whole conversation full circle.

The BRGs have also helped improve business metrics, especially with talent acquisition and looking at where they should be recruiting to hit different population bases.

How do social events within BRGs drive culture?

“Our biggest events have been the social ones,” shares Damian. “We happen to have a beer wall in our Support Center so we’ve hosted social events for both groups where allies and executive team members will join and basically have friendly conversations. We don’t always speak about the group specifically. We’re simply bringing people together that have similar thoughts. And sometimes the conversations do stem into business.”

Next steps in building your Business Resource Groups?

Bottom line, Business Resource Groups can and should be a tool your organization is utilizing to take your culture and talent acquisition to the next level and build a more inclusive environment. Start with a simple survey asking who would like to be involved, set up subcommittees, define roles each player can take ownership of, then keep rolling it down to local levels so that everyone within your organization feels like their thoughts and opinions and seen, heard and a part of their overall workplace culture.