The 4 C's framework, explained

Without a strategy for the events and programming that your group runs, it's going to be difficult to have the desired impact. The 4 C's framework is intended to serve as the foundation of everything
Note: Using this framework is not required. Your groups might utilize a different framework for your strategy, and that's totally fine. This is just the framework that we recommend as it is comprehensive and popular amongst DEI experts.
Illustration from DDR Advisors


Commerce - making a business impact for your company.
The same Diversity Best Practices article highlights that, although none of the 4 C’s is more important than the other, performing low on the Commerce pillar has a more negative impact on your group than low performance for the other C’s. Remember, at their best, ERGs are business resources. If you can support your company’s core business functions, your visibility throughout the organization is higher and it’s much easier for you to make the case for additional budget and/or resources.


Career - making an impact on the careers of your members.
According to DDR Advisors, “when companies score high on their Career-related questions, it is more likely that they will be able to maintain or improve the scores in the other three areas.” Your group should be focused on advancing the careers of the people that you look to serve within your company. The best way to do this is to talk to your members and figure out what kind of programming they want exposure to. Consider adding the following questions to the signup form for your ERG:
  1. 1.
    What are you hoping to gain from joining our group?
  2. 2.
    What are your career goals?
Monitor people’s responses to these questions via your Chezie Dashboard (or whatever method that you use to track signups) and use the responses to guide your ERG programming.


Community - benefitting the community you serve.
The community pillar is focused on external outreach. If you lead a Black ERG and your company is headquartered in Atlanta, find ways to benefit Black people in the Atlanta area. Get creative! Again, you can always work with your members to brainstorm community-service and community development projects. Ask members if they have any organizations that they would recommend, and if you find a few that align with your company’s values, reach out to them to see how you can support their work.


Culture - raising awareness of social and cultural issues.
One of the primary reasons that people from underrepresented groups need the support of ERGs is because there are often social, cultural, or economic forces that keep these people from achieving their goals. It’s likely that in-group members an ERG are already aware of these forces, so your ERG needs to focus on raising awareness for employees that don’t identify with the group. Create and share content, host book or podcast clubs, or go to a film screening. Use your ERG as a catalyst for change within your company’s walls by providing people with insight that they likely didn’t have before.
Learn more about the 4 C's Framework in our ERG Toolkit.