Strategic Employee Resource Group (ERG) Leadership Certificate

from the Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of Business,
University of Southern California

from the Center for Effective Organizations, Marshall School of Business,
University of Southern California—a top 10 business school

Strategic Employee Resource Group (ERG) Leadership Certificate


Strategic Employee Resource Group (ERG) Leadership Certificate

Be Part of the Creation of the Next Evolution in ERG Work

Program Overview

The Certificate program is designed for individual ERG leaders, enterprise-level ERG leaders, and HR or Diversity leaders who are considering the addition of ERGs to their organization.  It is the culmination of Dr. Theresa Welbourne’s ongoing research on ERGs spanning the last 15 years. The Certificate program focuses on a strategic perspective and the ways in which ERGs can drive organizational strategies, which include, but are not limited to diversity and human resource management goals.  Additionally, the Certificate program includes high-level, tactical assignments that will be applicable to the participant’s work and company ERG goals. Assignments include opportunities to present among program participants and peers, and in public venues—providing opportunities to advance career and personal networking, as well as writing and presentation goals.

ERGs are helping organizations innovate and drive business goals, and are even responding to unexpected challenges facing communities and organizations in today’s business environment. In order to help prepare ERG leaders to manage these challenges, the Certificate program focuses on skills development to help participants become a strategic leader within their organization.  The program also is designed to move forward new ERG learning.  Together with program faculty knowledge and expertise, we expect program participant experiences will help lead to new perspectives and learning that will be used by future ERG leaders and organizational leaders, overall.

Experiential Learning Focused on the Participant’s Organizational Needs

The Certificate program is designed to provide participants with significant experiential learning.  Projects and other program work focus on deliverables that will help participants make advancements in their own organization.

Examples of projects include:

  • Research on new ERG types and how to implement them
  • Best practices for starting a new ERG program in an organization
  • Building leaders through ERG work
  • Case study focused on resolving specific problems or optimizing opportunities within the participant organization’s ERG program
  • Globalization of the participant’s ERG program
  • Matching ERG structure to the participant organization’s business strategy
  • Pros and cons of advocacy today and in the future
  • Creating new ERG structures to help drive future growth
  • Strategic ERGs—evolving the ERG to meet current and future business growth needs

Now Accepting Applications for the 2024/2025 ERG Certificate Cohort

Apply Now

Program Details


Certificate Requirements

The ERG Leadership Certificate is designed to be completed within a time frame of 12 months. Flexibility beyond 12 months to complete the certificate is available, if needed.

Candidates must complete the 30-point curriculum and also must attend the entirety of the ERG Leadership Summit, participate in research, complete a case-study, assignments, and evaluations.

Program Cost*

Non-sponsors: $6,500

Sponsors: $5,000

*does not include cost of ERG Leadership Summit

Questions about the ERG Leadership Certificate?

Download the ERG Certificate Overview & Requirements

For any questions or concerns, please contact Jennifer Sparks at  or call 213-740-9814

Data Driven Content

Class sessions and projects are data driven.  Program faculty use class sessions to introduce new research on ERGs, or related topics.  ERG research data drives the in-class dialogue.  Additionally, there are numerous opportunities for participants to engage in ERG-related research projects sponsored by the Center for Effective Organizations, USC Marshall School of Business.  By participating in ERG-related research, participants obtain real-time benchmarking data for their organization.  Based on the research project results, program faculty help participants interpret the data and determine how best to take positive action within their organization.

Ongoing Community Involvement

The Strategic ERG Leadership Certificate program integrates with the annual ERG Leadership Summit event.  Integrating the programs allows Certificate participants to become part of both the community of Certificate program participants and the community of ERG Summit speakers and participants.  In addition, to access the broader ERG Leadership Summit community, Certificate participants will be invited to ongoing ERG related webinars, and will continue to have access to the Center’s ERG-related library of articles and archive documents, which provide a wealth of additional educational opportunities.

A total of 30 points are required to complete the ERG Leadership Certificate program.

Certificate Requirements

  • Participants are required to earn a total of 30 points to complete the Certificate program
  • Points are earned over a period of 12 months. Flexibility beyond the 12 months is available, if needed, to complete the program
  • Participants work with program faculty to customize their learning experience
  • Participants and faculty utilize the Certificate online learning management platform, Promote, to submit and track completion of program requirements

Earn Program Points By Completing Work in the Following Required Areas (30 points total)

1. Class Session Attendance and Learning (10 points)

  • Attend eight (8) Zoom class sessions; Write and submit a reflection summary for each session
  • Participants can miss one class session and not complete the reflection summary
  • Session recordings are available for participant review and reflection summary completion and submission (even if late)
  • Present case study or research report in a live Zoom class session

2. SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of Current ERGs or Potential for ERGs (5 points)

  • Prepare and submit the SWOT analysis to faculty; Present and discuss SWOT analysis during class session; This work will connect with other projects required throughout the rest of the program

3. Case Study or New Project:  Multiple case studies or projects are allowed; 10 points to be distributed based on depth and complexity of projects (discuss and agree to points with faculty). Participants can combine one or more projects discussed.

    • Option 1: Prepare a case study applicable to the participant’s organization; Topic to be discussed and agreed upon with program faculty. A case study includes three parts: 1) History and description of the context e.g., company, ERG structure, leadership, etc., and describe the problem or opportunity; 2) Develop 4 – 6 questions for discussion; 3) Prepare written answers to the discussion questions.
    • Option 2: Prepare a New Project and Related Business Deliverable (15 points total including the business deliverable) Participants have the option to research a topic of interest and then prepare the results. The project should involve original research e.g., interviews, surveys, focus groups. The result is a research report describing the project, process used, and results.
      • Examples of a business deliverable include:
          • development of a new ERG structure
          • creation of a new ERG scorecard
          • new program materials for leadership development
      • Option 3: Participate in the annual ERG research survey for ERG members (inclusion of non-ERG members is optional).  This survey provides Certificate program participants with benchmarking data for their organization.  During class, participants work with the data to drive strategic change in their organization. The survey can be distributed to a small group of peers (ERG leaders), or members in one ERG, as well as for the overall ERG population. Survey participants will be provided with results as well as benchmarking data. The participant then frames the results for presentation to their own ERG members and leadership teams in the organization. This project provides participants with skill-building in data-driven storytelling, as well as an understanding of how to use the metrics to provide strategic planning for their own ERGs.

      4. Present Your Case Study or Project to the USC-CEO ERG Community (5 points)

      • Participants present their case study or project to the USC-CEO ERG community. The presentation can be done via the Center for Effective Organizations’ Learn and Connect Series, or as part of the annual ERG Leadership Summit.

      *Optional opportunities to write articles and blogs are provided to program participants.  These are developmental opportunities. No points are assigned for these opportunities toward completion of the ERG Certificate.  

      Watch the ERG Leadership Summit Video

      “It was a great opportunity to connect with other ERG Leaders and talk about the issues that we had and the challenges we can overcome to create a more inclusive environment…” 

      Pablo Montera

      Partnership Associate, Twitch

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