Four reasons why employee network groups are essential to your company

As the Talent Acquisition intern at Concur, my role is to share our employees’ stories. And, I love hearing from our professionals about their passions and career goals, while also gaining insight into our company culture.

I was eager to speak with Client Marketing Manager Chad Minnick about Employee Network Groups (ENGs) at SAP and Concur. Chad leads the Pride@SAP PNW chapter which currently includes 50 members. Recently, Chad was introduced as the new co-lead for the larger U.S. chapter of Pride@SAP.


U.S. Pride@SAP co-lead, Chad Minnick


Becoming part of SAP has afforded Concur an opportunity to create regional chapters of each employee network and join current groups, as Chad explains: “The ‘aha moment’ was when Concur saw through SAP that recognition of diversity and how it works toward inclusion really helps [the business and our employees]. I saw how that pattern helped their evolution.” That evolution brought forth the Pride@SAP PNW chapter, which has increased momentum throughout the past year.

Between learning about Chad’s favorite place in the world (his couch) and his potential superpower (networking, unsurprisingly), I gained a deeper understanding of the value that ENGs bring to employees and their company. Based on my understanding, below are four areas in which ENGs are essential to companies:


1. ENGs help support employees to be their authentic selves

I asked Chad, “what three words would you use to describe yourself?” and while all of the adjectives he described intrigued me to learn more about him, one in particular stood out. That one word: authentic.

Chad explained that he lives his authentic self every day. “I spent two and a half decades being somebody I wasn’t and really hiding who I was,” he says. “So authenticity is something that people try and put down and that’s something I don’t put up with.” He adds that he wants “to be a model on how to be able to navigate challenges that come your way and still be your authentic self.”

Within the Pride@SAP PNW chapter, Chad and members alike bring their authentic selves to the network because they know that, within their group, they will be supported. Being a part of an ENG brings a sense of togetherness that you aren’t alone because you have shared experiences with the people surrounding and supporting you.

Chad’s hope with the Pride@SAP PNW chapter is to create a space where people can express themselves in a way that elevates their teams and the work that they do. At Concur, we are encouraged to bring our authentic selves to the workplace. Not only does doing so create a welcoming atmosphere for all, but it also increases vulnerability and trust, and can lead to a more supportive environment within teams. Chad explains, “I’ve been able to live authentically on a team and not hide who I am and that has increased my output. I can work comfortably. I can make mistakes comfortably.”


2. Employees have the opportunity to educate others and advocate for their network

Chad notes that Concur has always been supportive of the LGBTQ community. He loves his work experience and wants others within the LGBTQ community at Concur to feel the same. This initially sparked Chad’s desire to form the Pride@SAP PNW chapter.

ENGs are safe spaces for members to be known and heard, but also are a support network to all employees. Chad explained that there may be an employee that is questioning their sexual orientation or they could have a child experiencing something similar, but they don’t quite know where to go for support. “Overall, what we want to be is a resource to employees,” he says. “They don’t have to be directly involved, just know there’s a group here.”

Within that, Chad says that the group has small committees called “buckets.” Each bucket has a role that it focuses on, such as educating Concur about the unequal problems that the LGBTQ community faces and then overall advocating for the group. They host talks with speakers, attend LGBTQ organized events and work toward making change not only within Concur, but the community. Educating and advocating for their ENG is a powerful way to get people involved in their network and that is essentially Chad’s hope.


3. ENGs drive policy change, impacting employee engagement and retention

One important topic that Chad and I discussed was one of the chapter’s buckets focusing on internal and external policy. Internally, some changes that the Pride@SAP PNW chapter focused on were bringing awareness to LGBTQ employees and their benefits. He explains that policy is “not something that is against us, it’s just never been thought about.” The ENG is currently working cross-functionally with the HR benefits team to include same-sex couples when referring to parental leave, adoption and fertility treatment.

On an external level, the ENG fought against Washington state bills that negatively impacted the trans community. The PNW chapter brought this to President Mike Eberhard to place Concur on the Washington legislature business list promising that it won’t discriminate against trans people.

Chad explains this was a huge milestone; “it was the first time that SAP allowed an entity on a statewide ballot initiative.” The policy would have affected thousands of employees in Washington. The fight against this legislation had a positive impact at Concur and within the community.

The Pride@SAP PNW chapter has brought profound change to policy internally and externally, but it still has more work to do. Chad states that his goal is simple: “We always want to be a resource to Concur and of Concur.” Members don’t just want to be a resource to employees, but also make visible improvements that can be made in unintended policies.


4. Diversity is at the forefront of business success

Diversity is meant to be celebrated. At Concur, we take pride in our diversity that shapes our incredible company culture. Although it may seem like an obvious question, I asked Chad: “Why is having diversity in the office so important?” Chad’s response was profound. “The more diverse you make a community, the broader and more successful the ideas can become as long they’re listened to. And ENGs are a platform to be listened to.”

As Chad explains the relationship between diversity and success, he also discusses intersectionality and how it can enhance teams as well as the employee experience. With an intersection of various backgrounds and experiences, teams unify and can further determine areas where success is needed.

One of the greatest things about ENGs is that they bring together various people and backgrounds, but they also represent SAP values. Chad agrees with this sentiment as he said: “[It’s important] to have that channel to hear a voice, listen to that voice and be able to know that representation fits within your business values. Diversity fits in very well at Concur.” ENGs are not simply a voice to employees, but also to the company as they represent what SAP stands for: diversity, inclusion and belonging.


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