Employee Resources Groups (ERGs) go by many different names (i.e., Affinity Groups, Business Resource Groups, Employee Network Groups), but regardless of what they are called, they share a common purpose. Catalyst defines it as “a voluntary, employee-led group that serves as a resource for members and organizations by fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals, practices, and objectives. Other benefits include the development of future leaders, increased employee engagement, and expanded marketplace reach.”

Knowing where to start and gauging the growth and effectiveness of your ERG can be challenging.  This Maturity Model has been developed to provide ERGs with an avenue to measure the progress, engagement, and ROI of their disability-focused ERG as it matures.  It can be used as an internal tool for ERGs to assess themselves and/or to help lead discussions with senior leaders and other stakeholders on the value of the ERG to the business.

This is meant to be used as a general guide, understanding that organizations have different company cultures and business needs that may drive the timing of any given initiative.  Additionally, some of the ideas may cross over several stages.

The Maturity Model is divided into 5 business categories (ERG Operational, Talent/Employees, Inclusion/Culture, Business Impact, and Community/External Outreach) and 5 growth stages (Foundational, Formalized, Operational, Integrated, and Dynamic).  As an ERG is forming and focused on basics such as forming a board, creating a sense of community, or hosting basic awareness events, it is in the Foundational stage. At the formalized stage, a structure is implemented and there are more focused disability inclusion initiatives.  When an ERG is at the Operational stage, processes begin to become more standardized so activities can be sustained. During the Integrating stage, an ERG spends more time focused on ensuring what they are doing is aligned with what the business needs and is doing. When an ERG is recognized, valued, and sought after as a fully integrated business partner, they are in the Dynamic stage and even more time is spent engaged with supporting business initiatives.

ERG Maturity Model Matrix







ERG/BRG Operational Determining mandate, leadership, structure and budget Gathering feedback from leaders and other stakeholders Demonstrating accountability through the use of staff and advisory groups Refining ERG processes Establishing more in-depth relationships with stakeholders
Talent/ Employees
Promoting the hiring of people with disabilities, internally and externally Facilitating and advising about hiring procedure Serving as an escalation point for current employees and new hires Monitoring and evaluating hiring procedure and then adapting specific best practices Refining recruitment processes along with stakeholders
Setting up resources for disability inclusion Raising awareness, gaining knowledge, and increasing accessibility practices Furthering self-identification to solicit the needs of employees and drive accessibility Monitoring and evaluating disability inclusion and then adapting specific best practices Refining workplace policies along with stakeholders
Business Impact
(Workplace, Customers, Clients)
Ensuring disability representation in procurement and supply chains Marketing and leveraging DOBE relationships for business impact Instilling accessibility standards across business teams Monitoring and evaluating business impact and then adapting specific best practices Refining business practices along with stakeholders
Community/ External Outreach
(Customer, Client, Community)
Building community connections at the corporate and individual level Identifying sponsorship and other strategic partnership opportunities Showing strong presence with external communities Monitoring and evaluating community connections and then adapting specific best practices Refining external affairs along with stakeholders

Matrix Details: Foundational Stage

ERG/BRG is coming together and would be covering some of the basics.

  • Identify and engage Executive sponsor(s)
  • Form ERG Board
  • Have a designated D&I lead as liaison for disability ERG
  • Determine initial ERG structure (regional, sub-groups)
  • Set year 1 goals and objectives
  • Look at funding sources; develop business plan to request funding
  • Identify internal stakeholders (D&I, Safety, Talent Acquisition, HR, accommodations, supplier diversity, facilities, product developers, IT, legal, external vendors)
  • Identify Executives, Managers and employees who are disability champions
  • Create continuity plan/operating manual in case ERG leaders transfer/leave
  • Hold ERG membership drives
    • Metric – ERG members/ERG membership growth rates(number/percent)(percentage of overall employee base)
  • Establish connections with Talent acquisition, HR, accommodations team
  • Participate/influence in communicating the company’s commitment to hiring people with disabilities, on internal and external sites
  • Identify career development resources & activities
  • Increase awareness and application rate of people with disabilities by participating in disability fora and events to “signal” interest and encourage higher application rages
  • Build sense of community
  • Disability marketing campaign/disseminating information to inform/educate and celebrate disability inclusion (intranet, newsletters, internal blog posts)
    • Metric – # campaigns, communications
  • Create website or resource library, web links, information on disability
    • Metric – #website visits
  • ERG members assist with onboarding new hires with disabilities (communications about accommodations and helpful benefits; engaging managers and new team) [Link to:]
  • Encourage self-advocacy
  • Encourage inclusion of benefits for caregivers and care receivers
  • Organize disability awareness events to inform/education on disability and celebrate inclusion
    • Metric -# events hosted in a year
    • Metric – # ERG members attending events/#non-ERG employees attending events
  • Invite disability inclusion allies to join ERG
  • Ensure D&I is including disability inclusion and is engaging with employees with disabilities as part of their broader inclusion events
  • Identifying and recommend Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBE’s) to procurement to serve as vendors
  • Identify and recommend accessible programs, software
  • Connect with supply chain team to recommend inclusion of diverse partners in thrid party ecosystems
  • Understand accessibility standards (ADA, WCAG 2.0, W3C process, Section 508, CVAA)
  • Develop inclusive language guide for internal communication and marketing teams
  • Attending disability conferences and events
    • Metric – # events; # employees in attendance at each event
  • Partnering with disability focused Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) such as Disability:IN
  • Connecting with other (best practice) recognized disability ERGs
  • Volunteer hours of employees/ERG to support NGOs
    • Metric – # employees/# hours/year over year improvement)
  • Offering paid volunteer hours for employees to support NGOs

Matrix Details: Formalized Stage

ERG/BRG is developing a structure and have some focused activities.

  • Gather feedback from Leadership
  • Gather initial feedback from ERG members (survey)
  • Develop location/region/global ERGs
  • Develop Sub-group/Support groups (caregivers, parents, learning, mental health, autism, others by disability) within Disability ERG
  • Influence HR/talent acquisition department to create formal program with staffing support focused specifically on disability
  • Assist with sourcing talent for disability (Participate in campus recruiting events, in-person and virtual career fairs, speed networking events)
  • Engage ERG members in creating recruiting materials that attract qualified candidates with disabilities
  • Encourage employees with disabilities to self-disclose to help remove stigmas around disabilities in the workplace
  • Inform HR on writing job descriptions and interviewing strategies
  • Offer to train or assist HR on handling situations that may arise that aren’t included in EAP coverage
  • Drive development of a self-ID campaign for underrepresented groups and ensure that disability is included; Advocate for self-ID participation for employees with disabilities
    • Metric – # talent processes you are influencing
    • Metric – # sourcing events participating in
  • Ensure there is an avenue for regions/sub-groups within disability ERG to have a voice (sub-group formation)
  • Develop peer recognition programs for disability inclusion
  • Video-based disability sensitivity training for recruiters, managers, and HR.
  • Social Emotional learning programs for adults
  • Educate various teams across the organization on the need for accessibility review (internal/external)
  • Listening sessions – ERG to hear what employees with disabilities and allies need; Ensure that the queries and responses can lead to “Actions.” If needed, follow up with targeted focus groups
  • Begin informal mentoring within ERG for employees with disabilities
  • Broaden reach of internal events to celebrate diversity/disability within the organization
    • Metric – # events hosted
    • Metric – # ERG members attending/# non-ERG members attending
  • Provide training/education sessions to stakeholders/partners (TA, other ERGs, etc.)
    • Metric – # trainings
    • Metric – # attendees
    • Metric – # How many? How well attended?
  • Disabled-owned companies listed in supplier roster and create pipeline of companies representing individuals with disabilities as vendors
    • Metric – # disability owned suppliers on roster
  • Leveraging supplier diversity to win commercial work
  • Educate communications and marketing teams on inclusive language
  • Influence existing marketing campaigns to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities;
    • Metric – How often contributed
    • Metric – # times disability is included in marketing collateral, advertising
    • Metric – # campaigns including this population as part of their reach
  • Attending to represent the company at disability conferences and events
    • Metric – # events; # employees in attendance at each event
  • Engaging in co-branding activities with NGOs
  • Offer in-kind donations or pro-bono services to NGOs
  • Sponsoring fundraising events benefiting NGOs
  • Support for disability-specific NGOs; participating in events
    • Metric – # events attended/# employees in attendance/year over year
  • Partnering/co-sponsoring events with ERGs from other companies

Matrix Details: Operational Stage

ERG/BRG is standardizing processes and sustainable activities that serve the ERG members, as well as the overall organization.

  • Dedicated staff member(s) focused on operation of ERG related to disability inclusion (may have responsibility for multiple ERGs within the company)
  • Have representation from disability ERG on diversity council
  • Pulse survey for ERG (needs, concerns)
  • Create advisory group within ERG to assist with business questions related to disability/accessibility
  • Develop succession plan for E/BRG leadership
  • Serve as escalation point and advocate for employees with disabilities (possibly integrated if ERG is escalation point instead of a sounding board) – influence development of ombudsperson role for individuals with disabilities or process to escalate concerns
  • Self-id campaign input and/or participation
    • Metric: % employee population who self-identify as having a disability
  • Survey employees with disabilities to better understand their needs (benefits, product/system accessibility)
    • If “leadership” scored low in the survey regarding disability-specific issues, plan trainings or processes to improve leadership empathy
    • If “employee support” is voted low, plan trainings or processes for employees
    • If “company processes” score low, craft solutions *move with survey
  • Advisory panel provides consulting and input in universal design, web/product accessibility, marketing collateral and design
  • Accessibility Review
    Influence/work with IT to review accessibility of software/systems/applications (internal/external) and have them test and/or assist with systems testing
    Ensure accessible meetings and offsites
    Check documents and email correspondences for accessibilty (Trainings and best practices shared)
    Influence drive to improve accessibility of 3rd party products

    • Metrics – # trainings/meetings to drive effort
    • Metric – # systems/processes reviewed for accessibility
  • Outsourcing to DOBEs/disability-focused companies
    • Metric – # DOBEs used as vendor
  • Educate procurement and internal/external development teams on need to follow accessibility standards
  • Ensure accessibility of marketing collateral/campaigns
  • Participate on panels at conferences and other events to discuss disability inclusion
    • Metric – # panels/events
    • Metric – employee level participating

Matrix Details: Integrated Stage

ERG/BRG is cross-referencing ERG/BRG action items with business objectives to align with what the business needs and is doing.

  • Establish ERG governance for how stakeholders would work with the ERG
  • Develop disability-related support groups
  • Mentorship program for employees with disabilities to improve retention, performance evaluations, promotions
    • Metric – Self-disclosed individuals assigned to a mentor (#)
  • Encourage HR to assess the state of employees with disabilities within your organization, regarding hiring, retention, promotion, and performance evaluation
    • Metric – Total job roles hired into (#); number if hires who self-identify as having a disability
    • Metric – Unique job roles hired into (#)
  • Influence equity analysis and improvement programs in HR to improve the status of employees with disabilities
  • Evaluate sourcing and hiring of individuals with disabilities
    Where is the pipeline of suitable employees with disabilities for your industry?
    If it is lower than expected, where in the hiring activity pipeline are the gaps?

    • Metric – utilization of the pipeline
    • Metric – hiring rate of people with disabilities
  • Track turnover of employees with disabilities and recommend program development to address gaps.
    • Metric – Termination/retention rates (voluntary/involuntary) compared to other under-represented groups; compared to the rest of the organization
    • Metric – Reason for leaving of those with disabilities vs. those without
    • Metric – Track progress, year over year
  • Evaluate promotion/performance programs
    • Metric – promotion rate and performance ratings compared to other under-represented groups; compared to the rest of the organization
    • Metric – Self-disclosed individuals in stretch assignments (#)
    • Metric – Self-disclosed individuals in shadowing opportunities (#)
  • Review employee engagement scores – leverage existing survey data for employees with disabilities; overlay questions (Are you a leader or member of an ERG/BRG?); Drive actionable process to remedy any “gaps” seen in the survey
  • Influence disability inclusion in HR policies(including caregivers), working practices and environment
  • Serve as sounding board for individual/workplace accommodations; influence creation of workplace accommodations process; support escalations related to accommodations to help resolve
  • Recognition/Awards for disability inclusion champions
  • Develop formal mentoring program for employees with disabilities to improve retention, performance evaluations, promotions
  • Work with job coaches to inform them on company processes/programs that could be leveraged/modified; establish natural supports including assistance, relationships, materials and interactions within the workplace for employees who have job coaches
  • Influence formation of accessibility lead/team; Ensure accessibility of internal products
    • Metric – # contributions to accessibility team efforts
  • Utilize (if you have access) or advocate for use of self-id data to influence culture, programs
  • Measuring and documenting greater loyalty and higher performance of employees/vendors with disabilities
  • Include measurement of disability inclusion in appraisals (hiring, promotion rates, ERG support, disability inclusion efforts, inclusion leadership, achievement of ERG goals)
  • Ensure accessibility of internal products; serve as source of testing, evaluation, advice to UX teams
    • Metric – How often contributed
  • Influencing accessibility for products built and/or services provided by the company for public consumption; serve as source of testing, evaluation, advice to UX teams
    • Metric – How often contributed
  • Setting targets and documenting success with in-kind donations or pro-bono services to NGOs/ensure disability is part of Corporate Giving Campaign how much funding?)
    • Metric – # donations/services
    • Metric – amount of funding; year over year
  • Sponsorship of disability inclusion events/conferences
  • Public support for disability rights by the company
  • Disability Board participation
  • Mentorship of individual with disabilities outside the organization

Matrix Details: Dynamic Stage

E/BRG is recognized, valued, and sought after as a fully integrated business partner to the organization and the community, offering guidance to the business overall.

  • Integrate ERG access throughout the stakeholders’ processes and programs
  • Influence  on skills assessments rather than behavioral or psychometric for if hiring assessments are used
  • Have company include ERG accomplishments and skills development into performance evaluations
  • Evaluate performance through objective rather than subjective measures
  • Promote customizing career progression plans to tailor to the individual instead of on-size fits all approach
  • Drive the company to develop a self-ID campaign for underrepresented groups and ensure that disability is included.
  • Influence HR department to create formal program with Talent Acquisition team focused specifically on disability
  • Influence the procurement/hiring department for contractors, to ensure accessibility compliance for contractors and increased hiring of contractors with disabilities
  • Provide input into Emergency Response/Evacuation Procedures
  • Collect feedback from individuals with disabilities (internal/external) to provide feedback to company (inclusion efforts, accommodations, opportunities)
  • Focus on People Management Development for employees with disabilities, include in succession planning process
  • Enable remote work culture
  • Destigmatize mental health
  • Help HR identify line managers who have the right attitude and training to support disability inclusion efforts
  • Influence and increase employee participation in self-ID campaigns
  • Business seeks out advice from advisory panel
    • Metric – # inquiries to advisory panel
  • Recommend and implementing productivity and process improvements
  • Impact manager effectiveness of disability inclusion
  • Host events with clients/vendors who share similar values
  • Returning a percentage of revenue from commercial wins back into ERG budget and/or other disability inclusion efforts
  • Internal teams seek out ERG prior to procuring new systems/products
  • Influence drive to improve accessibility of 3rd party products/services used by the company
  • Procurement, IT, internal/external development teams seek out ERG prior to development/launch of new systems, products to review accessibility
  • Utilize and seek guidance from NGO to assist in integrating the needs of individuals with disabilities into product/service development
  • Maximizing media exposure of disability inclusion by company
  • Participating in standards bodies and government forums to further the inclusion of people with disabilities