Skip to Main Content

Aligning Philanthropy and Employee Resource Groups to Cultivate Meaning

A.J. Dronkers | December 6, 2023

By 2025, Deloitte estimates Generation Z and millennials will comprise 75% of the U.S. workforce. Known as “values-driven generations,” the two groups have impacted how businesses approach essential corporate touchstones like:

It makes sense, given a separate Deloitte study revealed 39% of Gen Z and 34% of millennials have turned down employers that don’t align with their values.

Shifting priorities and a focus on DEI programs have helped organizations make strides toward more transparency, opportunity and community connection. Likewise, Deloitte found newer generations respond positively to these efforts.

But how can workplaces build momentum and continue to create a productive workplace that inspires team members now and in the future? With employee resource groups (ERGs). Here’s how:

Corporate philanthropy

Whether by sponsoring a community event or through a formalized program that incorporates an organization’s values, resources and employees, benevolence enhances a business’s culture.

Charitable giving is one of the top six predictors of happiness worldwide, according to the American Psychological Association.

At Paycom, community efforts — and employee buy-in — flourish as we’ve pushed for greater inclusion.

“Over the years, the impact Paycom teams have had on the community and various causes is inspirational,” said Tara Steffens, community affairs program lead at Paycom. “Between Paycom and its employees, our organization gave $2.3 million in 2022 to different nonprofits. We continue refining our efforts and see a lot of opportunity in layering our ERGs into our giving strategy and process.”

The power of ERGs

ERGs offer essential outlets for employees to reflect, share, connect, learn and create a more welcoming workplace. They also improve engagement and retention when strategically developed and deployed.

While 90% of Fortune 500 organizations have ERGs, not all operate effectively, according to McKinsey & Company. The same study reveals 72% of companies express transformative DEI aspirations, but only 47% have transformative structures. Moreover, only 54% of employees nationwide say their ERG truly engages their communities.

Corporate philanthropy and ERGs have a natural overlap. Both programs seek to enhance communities and bolster relevant causes. Bringing the two together maximizes organizational impact and expands the value of ERGs and philanthropy for employees.

The case for purpose-driven philanthropy

More than one way exists to unite ERGs with corporate giving.

First, ERGs must have a stable foundation and a clear understanding of an organization’s aims and values. Leaders must back ERGs through active involvement and awareness, too. ERG members should also have a voice in decisions around community engagement.

“Just this year, we’ve increased our involvement and financial support of touchstone community events like the Martin Luther King Jr. parade, Pride parade and Día de los Muertos festival,” said Tara. “Many of these opportunities were brought to us by ERG members. We see additional opportunities in the future for enhanced authentic community involvement.”

Programs like Paycom’s employee giving initiative are fertile ground for ERG involvement and feedback. Each month, employees can automatically contribute to nonprofits for causes involving:

Recently, Paycom’s ERG leaders and community affairs teams participated in a 2024 collaborative planning meeting. The two groups are continuing to work together to create authentic giving opportunities for the entire workforce.

Philanthropy is most meaningful when employees and employee-led groups meet not only at the end of the process, but throughout. Involving ERGs in the nonprofit selection process, organization vetting, internal communications and more helps further enhance these programs.

Bringing it together

Companies with ERGs harness endless potential to engage people and make a difference. This is especially true for organizations looking to refine preexisting programs.

As with anything in the DEI space, success requires persistence, curiosity, cooperation and empathy. And that process requires trial and error. With the right mindset and strong collaboration, anything is possible.

And if you want to work at an organization committed to DEI and growth, apply to Paycom today!

About the author
Author picture, A.J. Dronkers
A.J. Dronkers
A.J. Dronkers heads Paycom’s culture; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); and engagement program. In this role, he and his team maintain a DEI strategy and overall engagement for Paycom’s 6,000+ employees. This includes DEI governance, growing and maturing employee resource groups (ERGs), leading listening sessions and DEI training, strategizing process improvements to talent management, maintaining compliance, managing benefits and policies, and overseeing employee engagement. He previously worked on a DEI team that supported over 30,000 global employees and is most proud of launching an award-winning digital magazine and podcast. He has extensive experience in designing and delivering multiyear change management and strategic communications campaigns. Major influences in his personal journey are hearing stories from his father and grandparents who immigrated from Indonesia, as well as his own experience being queer. When he’s not at work, you’ll find him leafing through his collection of cookbooks, antiquing, perusing a nearby farmers market or eatery, and cycling.