I have the pleasure of working for an amazing company.  I’ve been at Schwab for 16 years and while I have a great team, manager, and clients, I started to lose some of my initial enthusiasm for my role after I’d been with the firm for a number of years. I spoke with my mentor about how I was feeling and he suggested that I get involved with an employee resource group (ERG).  An ERG is a collection of employees that share a common background such as Veteran status or ethnicity. Groups are also formed around interests such as parenting, wellness, or philanthropy. ERGs can be found at companies both large and small.

After some gentle persuading I got involved in Black Professionals at Charles Schwab (BPACS).  It is, by far, one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career. Here are a few ways participating in an ERG helped me – and how it can help you too!

Professional development

As a member of BPACS, I’ve grown professionally and my leadership skills have been enhanced. For example, I’ve been a project manager, a liaison, and a guest speaker on behalf of my group, and I am now its national chair. All of these opportunities were new to me and help me exercise my influence with not only my peers but leadership as well. 

Peer support

There is nothing more comforting than being part of a group that understands how you feel.  It’s great to be with peers who have experienced and persevered through similar career and life struggles.  And, on the flip side, it’s encouraging to have your peers celebrate your successes.  One of my fellow BPACS members recently passed her Series 7 securities registration exam and we were ecstatic for her because we understood the time and sacrifices she made in order to do so well.  It was a pleasure to celebrate her, and her success will serve as an example that motivates other members looking to take charge of their careers.

Networking

I heard the phrase “Your network increases your net worth.”  What an accurate statement!  By networking within my ERG, I have met some amazing people who have supported my career – senior leaders with whom I worked on award-winning projects, and managers and peers from across the firm who have participated in major fundraising events alongside me. My early conversations with these folks have led to strong professional and personal relationships as well as a network of “go to” people who provide me with solid advice, problem solving, and mentoring.

I encourage you to join a group sponsored by your own organization, and if an ERG for your area of interest is not yet a part of your organization, consider taking the lead – influence  your company’s leadership to start one!

 

About The Author:  LaShonda Royal has been with Charles Schwab for 16 years and is a senior relationship specialist for the firm’s Advisor Services organization.  

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