Want to Start an Employee Resource Group? Attend an Info Session on Jan. 16

Learn how to launch a group to help foster stronger connections and belonging at Duke

Employee Resource Groups

“Employee Resource Groups are a place to foster community, but they serve as more than just community because they become a home away from home for many of us and are a space where people can come together and learn and grow,” Slade said. "These groups foster open dialogue and communication, creating a platform that allows us to truly grasp the needs, concerns, and aspirations of our diverse workforce."

Katie Watkins with her daughter.
Katie Watkins at a Duke Moms event with her daughter. Watkins, a Portfolio Manager at Duke Health Technology Solutions, is among the leaders of Duke’s current affinity groups, founded Duke Moms to build a supportive community for working mothers at Duke. Photo courtesy Katie Watkins.

Duke Human Resources announced a new effort in November to help employees establish Employee Resource Groups to foster stronger connections and a sense of belonging within the University community. While some groups already exist in the health system and Duke University School of Medicine, any university or health system group of employees can now request to start an Employee Resource Group.

Katie Watkins, a Portfolio Manager at Duke Health Technology Solutions, leads one of the current affinity groups.

When Watkins returned to work after the birth of her daughter five years ago, she found herself looking for resources and support as she began navigating the workplace as a working mom.

Knowing there were other women experiencing similar challenges, Watkins got started by working to redesign a lactation room, but her ideas quickly grew into a robust affinity group community for working moms to support each other.

Open to all Duke employees, “Duke Moms” boasts almost 200 members after officially launching this spring. The group serves as a supportive community for working moms by hosting resource fairs and events to network. Duke Moms also advocates for moms university-wide, working with Duke on retention efforts for moms in the workplace and standardizing resources for working parents.

¡DALHE! board members, from left to right, Dalia Antunez, Fernando Orozco, Raquel Ruiz, Mar Martinez Pastor, Angel Romero Ruiz, Charlotte Stoute and Patricia Loftin. Photo courtesy of the Duke University School of Medicine.

Raquel Ruiz founded Duke Advancing Latiné/Hispanic Excellence, or ¡DALHE!, which kicked off its inaugural event recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month in October at the School of Medicine. She will speak at the information session on Jan. 16.

The group of 100 members is open to all Duke employees and is designed to create a sense of community for Latino and Hispanic employees and foster an inclusive work environment. ¡DALHE! provides opportunities for members to network, make mentorship connections and share culture.

“It’s a resource for the employees to connect, network, create a sense of community, and then to Duke as well. It’s a resource for talent, recruitment and retention, and collaborate with entities across the university,” said Ruiz, Senior Director at the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

While Ruiz and Watkins say starting up an employee resource group takes extra work, the effort is worth it.

“The best way to make change is to hear perspectives of the people who are going through issues, who are actually having those experiences,” Watkins said. “Policy being created by HR is awesome and needed, but change is more successful and is maintained longer if you can create those positive changes from the voices of the people who have the needs.”

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