Why more companies are starting to pay ERG leaders Nearly half of companies are now compensating employee resource group leads in some form. Those that don’t, risk being called out.


Jenny, a corporate lawyer passionate about empowering women in the fintech industry, dedicated her time and energy to creating and leading employee resource groups (ERGs) that supported women. However, despite the demanding nature of her day job, Jenny found herself spending an additional 3 to 10 hours per week on ERG-related tasks, depending on the level of activity within the group.

Running events, rewriting policies, engaging with internal stakeholders, advocating for change, and even having conversations with senior leaders became part of Jenny's responsibilities as an ERG leader. Sadly, she received no compensation for this role in her last two positions, which led her to feel disheartened, disillusioned, and demoralized. Recognizing the toll it took on her, Jenny decided that she would only take on an ERG leadership role again if it came with extra pay.

Fortunately, the situation is slowly changing, and compensating ERG leads is becoming more common. The latest State of the ERG report from DEI consultancy The Rise Journey revealed that 46% of surveyed organizations now provide some form of compensation to ERG leads, a significant increase from 26% in 2021 and just 6% in 2020. The most common ERGs serve LGBTQ+, women, Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and Latino/Hispanic employees. Additionally, 45% of companies are considering introducing compensation for ERG leads, recognizing that these individuals typically spend up to three hours per week fulfilling ERG-related duties.

Jes Osrow, the co-founder and COO of The Rise Company, highlights the importance of compensating ERG leads, particularly as they often come from underpaid and marginalized groups. Osrow asserts that not providing them with additional financial support is disrespectful and belittling, ultimately leading to burnout. The Rise Journey's report found a range of compensation measures among the 86 companies that currently compensate ERG leads. These include gift cards, company swag, additional mentorship opportunities, and professional development programs. Only 24% of companies provide cash compensation, typically in the form of a regular stipend averaging $2,136 per year.

Osrow believes that cash compensation can make the most significant difference, considering the increased responsibilities and burdens that ERG leads undertake. She acknowledges that boards often task ERGs with initiatives aimed at improving diversity, but fail to provide the necessary resources to support these efforts, including financial, emotional, mental, and personnel resources.

In contrast, companies like Allison, Figma, Clever, and Storable have recognized the importance of compensating their ERG leads since 2021. These companies pay their ERG leads between $2,000 and $6,000 per year, in addition to their regular salaries, on a quarterly or biannual basis. The recognition of the extra workload and emotional toll that comes with DEI work is a driving factor behind their decision to provide additional compensation.

Acknowledging this, Amie Ninh, Head of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion at Clever, emphasizes that DEI work often carries weight and emotional tax, especially for historically marginalized communities. Former ERG leader Jenny echoes this sentiment, noting that not receiving extra compensation made her feel as though her company was merely paying lip service to the idea of diversity. The lack of compensation ultimately affected her enthusiasm for the company and created a sense of disillusionment.

In conclusion, compensating ERG leads is crucial for creating an inclusive and supportive work environment. It not only recognizes the additional workload and emotional toll they bear but also demonstrates a company's commitment to true diversity and inclusion.  

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