‘Connect With Your Passion’ — Advice for ERG Leaders From an ERG Senior Program Manager

Sponsored by Intuit, Inc

Jim Graziano

Photo courtesy of Intuit.

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May 19, 2024 at 1:32AM UTC

Jim Graziano joined Intuit — the global financial platform behind TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, Credit Karma, and Mailchimp —in 2014 when he discovered the organization’s values provide diverse spaces for belonging via their Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Now, he is the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Employee Resource Groups Senior Program Manager.

“As a 53-year-old out, gay man — having the opportunity to connect with folks in the LGBTQ+ community made my new-hire experience so much more fulfilling,” he explains. And, “I soon sought out a leadership role on the Pride ERG at the Tucson site.”

Graziano quickly achieved this goal and was Intuit Tucson’s Pride ERG co-chair from 2014 to 2017, during which he focused on bringing positive change to those around him. The ERG focused on community service, leaning into one of Intuit’s company values, We Care & Give Back. In addition, they provided engagement opportunities for the Tucson office, bringing education, awareness and advocacy to the forefront of its programming. 

Then, in 2018, Graziano stepped into his role as the Pride Global ERG co-chair, a role he held until 2021. In this position, his goal became ensuring global Pride ERG health, coaching and developing local leaders and, again, staying true to bringing education, awareness and advocacy to Intuit.

“ERG leadership roles are voluntary, meaning we do the work in tandem with our core roles,” he shared. “As such, I leveraged both positions to network at an executive level, upskill my management portfolio, drive valuable and impactful programming and focus a good deal on my personal and career development. My involvement in the ERG ecosystem was a catalyst in finding my career objective and passion.” 

Being connected to ERGs for most of his time at Intuit has helped Graziano find purpose in how he serves the organization, he tells Fairygodboss. He was, therefore, thrilled to have the opportunity to shift into full-time DE&I work. 

“I cannot say enough about the importance of ERGs,” Graziano shares. “Not only have I been able to reinforce my space of being and identity while at work, but I have also been able to tap into the career development opportunities that have afforded me the role I am in today.” 

Here, we talk to Graziano about his role as the DE&I/ERG senior program manager, responsible for supporting programming across 14 ERGs and serving as a resource to all ERG leaders. He also shares his best advice and the importance of ERGs.

Do you have any advice for people who are looking to become leaders in an ERG?

Connect with your local and global leaders. Be curious about what their mission and visions are. Discuss your interest with your manager, and share why you feel it would be beneficial to your performance in your core role. Connect with your passion; if you wake up feeling inspired by the deliverables an ERG is providing, and you hear a whisper to lead, listen to the whisper.

We’ve heard a lot about how ERG leaders are very susceptible to burnout. How do you avoid burnout and stay motivated?

Burnout is a real thing. Our leaders take on ERG leadership in addition to their core roles, which can be challenging at times.

What I have seen over the years — and I can speak to this, as well — is that our leaders are beyond passionate about the work they do and the communities they support. What’s great about our ERG structure is that we support and encourage a co-chair system of leadership. Some of our larger ERGs have three leaders supporting their efforts at the global level. This helps in distributing responsibilities.

In addition, over the past few years, our DE&I team has expanded to include DE&I/ERG leadership that is available to step in and help our leaders and their programming year-round. Although ERG strategies ladder up to our DE&I strategy, there is a personalized component to each ERG. Having flexibility in what it is that you want to pursue and/or support allows for creative expression and motivation.

How does Intuit support ERG leaders like yourself?

At a recent State of the Company meeting, our Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer (CDEIO), Humera Shahid, stated: “Foundational to our DE&I efforts are our Employee Resource Groups. They play a key role in helping drive change.” I think this speaks volumes.

Having senior leadership being center stage and speaking to the value of ERGs was a clear demonstration of the organization’s understanding that ERGs are valuable — and, I will go as far to say, pivotal — in how an organization performs. Being allotted the time from management to commit to ERG initiatives, recognizing the growth and development opportunities by being an ERG leader and having a direct line of communication with our C-Suite leaders is the support that we’ve consistently been offered and will continue to benefit from in years to come.

How do the ERGs at Intuit make a positive impact on both employees and communities around the world?

I think identity is an oftentimes underused word in DE&I as a whole. Seeing yourself represented at your job creates a sense of belonging. My hope is that, among the 14 ERGs we have at Intuit, every employee can identify with at least one.

The majority of our ERG memberships are intersectional, meaning an employee has joined multiple ERGs. Having such a diverse landscape allows for more engagement. Our employees benefit from programming, networking and most importantly, finding a space to comfortably express themselves in ways that are authentically connected to how they see themselves.

The benefits of belonging promote a purpose-driven mindset that frequently shows up in the work they are doing. Being seen ties directly to wellness, which, after the past few years, has become more important than ever.

Outside of belonging, the opportunity to be an active ERG member also opens up the door to learning. I have learned so much about other cultures and communities, challenges and injustices, triumphs and successes by being connected to our ERGs.

While the last two years have been challenging to stay connected to our ERG in-person community initiatives, we have been innovative in how we support our employees. When possible, we leaned heavily into virtual experiences and, in this fiscal year, explored virtual volunteer frameworks. Now, we’re getting back out and engaging with folks and businesses in our prospective communities around the globe. There is ERG representation at all of our main global sites. Community outreach and support goes hand in hand with our We Care & Give Back value, and we look forward to reconnecting with and supporting our communities.

Speaking of communities, how exactly do ERGs help build a positive community?

I would offer that our ERGs foundationally drive Intuit’s culture. This goes back to my mention of identity. Our communication channels have been key in keeping us all connected throughout the pandemic. We have collaboratively celebrated successes, shared comfort and support when experiencing loss and combined efforts when witnessing injustices. We are successful in doing so by having each ERG define its mission, vision and strategy for each fiscal year.

Based on this, programming is developed to ensure that engagement is possible, be it virtual or soon to be in person. As we enter a hybrid work model, our ERGs will be focused on intersectional offerings. We want to ensure that we are connecting with as many employees as possible when they’re on site, and we are confident that an intersectional approach will help deliver a durable connection and reinforce community.

One bit of advice that I have offered leaders is to ask if the ERG event or programming is compelling, provocative and inspiring. I think these are important considerations as we step into a new work experience.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments from the ERGs at Intuit?

Photo courtesy of Intuit.

Intuit’s ERGs consistently deliver amazing experiences. I think being recognized on multiple indexes, Human Rights Campaign Foundation  — Pride ERG, Religious, Equity & Diversity Index    — Christian and Muslim ERGs, Disability: In — Abilities ERG are notable accomplishments. In addition, Intuit was the first tech company to host an internal and external Trans Summit in 2020, partnering with the GenderCool Project. 

ERG groups. Photos courtesy of Intuit.

How is Intuit  — and your ERG — celebrating Pride Month this year?

This year’s Pride Month falls at an interesting time for Intuit. The majority of our sites returned to work, in the hybrid model, back in mid-May. The Pride leaders wanted to ensure that all employees were able to ground themselves being back in the office, taking into consideration that there was a large number of new-hire employees that had never been to the office at all.

All to say, their theme, “Reconnect with Pride,” is focused on membership engagement at the site level. This involves employees getting to know each other and their site leaders, and celebrating at the local level with programming and events provided by the local Pride leaders. 

On a global scale, it involves offering three key virtual speaking events: LEADING WHILE OUT, LGBTQ+ PARENTING (LGBTQ+ Parents with children, Parents of LGBTQ+ children or both) and the annual JUNE JAM. JUNE JAM is co-sponsored with the African Ancestry ERG, Latinos ERG and Indigenous Peoples ERG. It’s a day full of in-house DJs spinning virtually and broadcasting onsite — and it includes fundraising for nonprofits within each ERG, a shoe-drive campaign and dancing!

On a wider scale, how do you celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year?

I can say firsthand that I’ve never felt more comfortable being out at work. Intuit demonstrates support of the LGBTQ+ community day in and day out.

In addition to Pride Month offerings, the Pride ERG will be back to support and participate in the Out & Equal Global Summit in October and will be hosting our 4th Annual Trans Summit in Q3.

Intuit welcomes and encourages partnership with the Pride leaders to ensure they are supporting the Pride membership when social issues arise. This happens at the CEO level. Our CEO, Sasan Goodarzi, and his predecessor, Brad Smith, have demonstrated allyship beyond what one would expect within the walls of their career. We are fortunate to work for an organization that has leaders who deliver action behind their words.

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