I'm really proud of the two roles I play with our employee resource groups (ERGs) as the chair of Sí, our Hispanic ERG, and as the chair of the ERG Leadership Forum, which brings together leaders from all our ERGs to discuss and act upon shared goals. Both have given me an opportunity to understand how the ERGs are impacting the culture in the company and our business.
I think about ERGs from the perspective of mirroring the landscape – having diversity within our workplace helps us best connect with our external audiences. I also think it's important from a pure innovation and talent perspective. In order for us to innovate and think differently to develop game-changing ideas, it requires people to look at the same set of problems from different angles and their diverse experiences.
One of the most impressive things I've seen with the ERGs is the evolution. At first they were individually focused, taking into consideration the members they served. Now, through the ERG Leadership Forum, we've become more of a collective force that is starting to make progress towards creating an inclusive culture at Altria.
I see a much more engaged organization because of the ERGs. With Sí for example, only a third of our members are Hispanic. That means our programming is having an impact and bringing together people of diverse backgrounds. It really helps us to embrace all employees and harness the talent that we spend so much time recruiting. When people feel like they can be themselves, that they can bring their whole selves to work and contribute without fear, then those employees are much more productive, much more engaged and will be the success that leads us forward as a company.