Northrop Grumman’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) offer professional development opportunities for all employees and serve as advocacy groups within the company. Ruth Quant, chair of the Melbourne chapter of Asian Pacific Professional Network (APPN) talked about the benefits of ERGs, how APPN advocates for employees with an Asian background, and how ERGs are open to everybody, regardless of background or personal identity.
Let’s start with the basics: How are ERGs different from clubs, like photography clubs or soccer clubs?
I can see how there’s a misconception. I’ve also been part of clubs or recreational groups. Those are more geared toward common interests. I joined APPN for professional development opportunities. ERGs definitely provide more personal and professional growth opportunities.
We have lunch and learns. We offer courses and certificates. We get leadership to provide information on topics like fellowships, navigating difficult situations and how to become a leader yourself. ERGs can help you grow in your career.
What do you think are the biggest benefits of joining an ERG?
You meet all different kinds of people from within the company. It’s a great way to get involved. They are a tool to share information about all of the pillars that define ERGs: career and professional development, impacts to business, community outreach, sustainment, recruiting new employees, and networking.
We also share various groups’ strengths and cultures. In APPN, we start every year celebrating the Lunar New Year in January and our heritage month in May. In March, NGWIN celebrates Women’s History Month and VERITAS is very involved in veteran’s events in November. We leverage communities and their impact to the company.
How are ERG’s fostering diversity and inclusion at Northrop Grumman?
Each of the ERGs embraces their individual cultural group, and also makes it inclusive for people who don’t necessarily have those shared experiences. They all create avenues to share what the corporation stands for and bring that information down to our local members. For example, PrIDA has been providing great webinars and lunch and learns on how our company is working to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. I attended a Safe Space lunch and learn, and it was a great learning experience. Being of Asian descent myself, APPN was kind of an entryway into ERGs. I have shared experiences, a shared culture, and that drew me to this specific group more easily. But then I realized all of the ERGs have something to offer. I’m a part of all of them now.
How does APPN specifically advocate for employees with Asian/Pacific Islander roots?
We’ve been introducing Asian culture to the site with things like the Lunar New Year and hula dancing. We created a cookbook full of our members’ family recipes tied to their Asian heritage— Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese—all different backgrounds.
In the last year, given everything going on in the world related to social justice, we’ve created a leadership webinar series about navigating today’s America. Asian Americans are sometimes more subdued; quieter. We can have very “head down, do your work” personalities. So APPN Melbourne has worked with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office to explain the needs of our community and bring to light what people are feeling and what people can do going forward.
Can you join an ERG if you don’t identify as a member of the group they represent? For example, can you join APPN if you’re not Asian?
Yes, definitely. All the ERGs offer something for everyone. Let’s say you have no shared experience with a veteran. Joining VERITAS or attending one of their events teaches you about their experiences and where they’re coming from. Each ERG continues to evolve to be more accessible to everyone in what they have to offer.