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Innovative Ways to Use Resource Groups

Diversity leaders reveal that using ERGs in innovative ways can positively affect business results.

Employee-resource groups (ERGs) can give insight into the unwritten cultural/ethnic nuances of your client base, leading to gains in business and customer loyalty, as JCPenney can attest. When the retailer sought to open one of its new stores in a location with a high Asian demographic, ERG members and field councils were able to advise management on the proper, respectful way to exchange money in Asian cultures—by counting the change back. If cashiers simply gave the usual “Here is your change” line, many patrons could have felt offended, which results in lost positivity for the brand.

Manny Fernandez, director of diversity for JCPenney (No. 35 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), shared this story during a DiversityInc panel with Jim Norman, vice president of talent acquisition, diversity and inclusion for Kraft Foods (No. 9), and Tim Stiles, tax partner for KPMG (No. 29). They discussed how their companies view ERGs as valuable resources with unexpected—and profitable—benefits. The panel additionally revealed that ERGs can also be used to assist in successfully on-boarding new hires, provide skill-based training, career development and mentoring, and help with leadership development.

Read more in the full 1,045-word article, “Ways to Use Employee-Resource Groups,” at BestPractices.DiversityInc.com.

3 comments


  • Of course, counting the change back is ALWAYS a good practice regardless of your customer demographics as it helps prevent con artists from claiming they didn’t get enough back, and it can help the cashier recognize when they’ve made a mistake. It used to be pretty standard.

  • I recall when I deposited at SANTANDER the cashire said its £xxx which was wrong after she counted twice. Then I asked get your senior cashire to count it again – the count was right as expected, but the cashire did not apologies for the mistake she made. Counting the change back to the customers should be a norm unless they don’t know how to count or disability issues.

  • To some, this subtle gesture may seem insignificant. However these culturally sensitive acts communicate to clients, customers and employees that you not only understand a bit about their culture, but you also care enough to demonstrate it. These types of actions help under-represented groups decide where to spend their time and money. Developing multicultural competencies presents a never ending opportunity to to broaden your reach and engage others.

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