Build it and they will come!
A belief that I have always shared! Those living with or caring for a loved one with a mental illness are seeking ways to connect with one another and to give and receive support. A mental health employee resource group (ERG) within any organization is powerful way to foster a real sense of supportive connection while extinguishing the mental health stigma in the workplace.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Stefanie who is a very powerful woman causing real change in her California based company, Splunk. She is my guest blogger this week and she shares her journey in launching their ERG at Splunk.
Our Neurodiverse Journey: Starting a Mental Health ERG at Splunk
Last month, my ERG leadership team and I celebrated the official launch of Splunk’s first Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group, a group that aims to provide a voice, community, and support for employees with mental health or neurodivergent conditions, or those caring for loved ones experiencing those conditions. To commemorate this milestone, I asked mental health activist Zak Williams (son of Robin Williams) to give a fireside chat and Q&A — and he told me he’d be “delighted.”
Our Membership Spiked
The event, to say the least, was a major success. Hundreds of employees either attended or viewed Zak’s presentation remotely. The Q&A ran way over time, and we still couldn’t get to all the questions. Conversations were fired with dizzying speed over our Neurodiversity Slack channel. Our membership spiked. My inbox and personal Slack blew up with people offering to volunteer, asking questions and requesting that we ship our ERG t-shirts to their offices. And it was thrilling to see this degree of passion around the topic of mental health from the Splunk community — and how excited they were to roll up their sleeves and get the ball rolling.
Before we began this endeavor, I knew anecdotally that there was interest. I tend to talk about mental health just about everywhere — music concerts, dinner parties, sporting events — and the workplace was no exception. But whenever I did, my colleagues immediately chimed in about their own experiences or expressed that they wanted to be a part of a Splunk initiative.
Starting a Neurodiversity ERG began to make sense. Splunk had numerous existing ERGs, but none that specifically addressed mental health. So over beers at a local bar one day, two of my work colleagues and I brainstormed everything that our ideal organization would include — and we didn’t hold back.
We’re Limited Only By Our Imaginations
These days, we are busy planning everything from mindfulness and mental health education workshops to programming around ADD and ASD, intersectional ERG panels and community poetry slams. We’re limited only by our imaginations and creativity. And looking ahead, we not only have an opportunity to change a workplace culture, but to be a leader in a greater industry-wide shift that normalizes mental health in the workplace. I look forward to what’s to come in 2020 and beyond!
If you are looking to build a mental health strategy and/or create an ERG of your own, let’s talk! I am on a personal mission to cause inclusion in workplaces across the U.S. I would be thrilled to support you in your journey to cause real change where you work!