Colleague Resource Groups at Taylor & Francis: A Q&A With Naomi Barrett, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead

Colleague Resource Groups (CRGs), also called Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), are employee-led organizations at companies where individuals who share a commonality can meet up, whether that commonality be gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything in which they have a shared identity or interest. Their aim is to create a safe space to support people and their career development, as well as, in some cases, provide a unified front where they can lobby for change at their organizations. 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGs; that is not surprising, because ERGs/CRGs have shown to improve diversity at organizations, and investors are increasingly demanding greater corporate accountability, which often includes diversity information. We sat down with our first ever Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (D,E&I) Lead at Taylor & Francis, Naomi Barrett, to ask her about her work with colleague resource groups. We discussed how employees are benefitting from them now, and asked her what her hopes were for the future.

Leah Kinthaert:

“Why do you think colleague resource groups are important?”

Naomi Barrett:

“Colleague resource groups allow colleagues with similar interests, backgrounds, or demographics to come together for a common purpose. From a colleague perspective, it increases the volume of their collective voices within the organization and also allows colleagues to meet and network with colleagues around the world. From a business perspective, there are so many benefits. We use our colleague resource groups as another way to listen to our colleagues and engage with them on the issues that matter most to them. We also use them heavily to help identify gaps within our organization. They have helped develop policies, learning programs, recruitment strategies etc.”

“CRGs are going to be integral in looking at how we continue to broaden the diversity of our colleague base, but also in how we integrate diversity into more of our business operations.”

Leah:

“Can you tell me a little about the history of colleague resource groups at Taylor & Francis – how did they evolve?”

Naomi:

“I believe the first true CRG at Taylor & Francis group was Women in Publishing (WiP), which was started in 2017. Initially begun in the UK, WiP has grown to add in global chapters over the past 4 years. They have hosted great programming to showcase women in leadership, provide discussion and resources on topics impacting women in the workplace and publishing specifically, and they offer great networking opportunities.”

“I think the story here really is in thinking about the future of CRGs at T&F. This article is timely since we have just launched some tools and resources on our DE&I intranet page to support colleagues in creating new CRGs within the business. We truly do recognize the benefits of having our colleagues come together and create spaces to collaborate in areas important to them. We’ve developed templates to support the startup of new CRGs. Our newly formed DE&I team and global DE&I network are now in place to support the formation of new CRGs as well. We’d like to see a marked increase in the number of colleague-driven groups as we go into 2022.”

Leah:

“Are there any other colleague resource groups currently active at T&F?”

Naomi:

“To date, WiP is the only official T&F-specific CRG, however our parent company Informa’s CRGs have grown in the past 4 years as well. We currently have five AllInforma CRGs: AllInforma Balance, AllInforma Rainbow, AllInforma Nations, AllInforma Illuminate, and AllInforma iCAN. Our T&F colleagues can get involved in all of these groups.”

Leah:

“Have we seen any benefits of our colleague resource groups? What have they been?”

Naomi:

“We absolutely have. A number of the partnerships that we are using for recruitment purposes have come from our CRGs. These groups have also been involved in presenting cases for updated policies and benefits, which we are currently reviewing at T&F. We’ve also seen a significant number of learning sessions where all colleagues have had opportunities to learn more about how colleagues of different backgrounds feel and see the world. These types of learning opportunities and structural policy changes lead to much more emotional intelligence within an organization and improved engagement of colleagues. At this point, I think the business case for improved diversity and increased engagement has certainly been researched and proven, so in addition to improving work like for our colleagues, our business will see the benefits of an engaged workforce.”

Leah:

“How do the colleague resource groups work with our internal DE&I and/or HR organization?”

Naomi:

“Many of the suggestions for policy or recruitment come through to our People team for research and implementation, so there is definitely a close partnership to ensure that the ideas that are brought forward are actioned. With the development of our DE&I team, we now have a direct connection. It has made it easier for colleagues to submit ideas or to get involved and have one point of contact. We have also redesigned our global DE&I network at T&F so we have teams focused on various strands of DE&I to help support the work of our CRGs and connect our Informa CRGs to our T&F networks.”

“As our global DE&I Lead, I also have an HR background and sit within the People team. I am actively involved within our global DE&I network and my team works to connect the pieces of work happening collectively throughout the network and our internal CRGs. The current network structure is a new endeavor, and we will continue to take feedback from our colleagues on what they believe is working and what could be done better. Having an open dialogue and being open to feedback will be crucial in the continued development and progress of our DE&I networks and CRGs at T&F.”

Leah Kinthaert

Leah Kinthaert, Senior Social Media Manager, Corporate Communications at Taylor & Francis

Naomi Barrett, Senior HR Business Partner and DEI Lead, Human Resources at Taylor & Francis

Naomi Barrett, Senior HR Business Partner and DEI Lead, Human Resources at Taylor & Francis