Colleague Resource Groups (CRGs), also called Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), are employee-led organizations at companies where individuals who share a commonality can meet up, whether that commonality be gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, visible or invisible disability, or anything in which they have a shared identity or interest.
Their aim is to create a safe space to support people and their career development, as well as, in some cases, provide a unified front where they can lobby for change in their organizations.
Globally, around 15% of the world's population, or 1 billion people, live with a disability. Considered the world’s largest minority, people with disabilities face major obstacles when it comes to employment.
In an article from 2021, The Center for American Progress reveals that nondisabled workers are three times more likely than disabled workers to be employed. They also report that: "disabled workers earn 66 cents for every $1 earned by those without a disability."
In a recent survey from Global Disability Inclusion and Mercer Insights, the authors found that "companies need to better understand the work experiences of their employees with disabilities, who likely represent 20% of their workforce", explaining that people with disabilities have "been sequestered into a micro-diversity group which is often overlooked, or entirely left out of diversity discussions and initiatives."
AllInforma Illuminate, Informa’s Employee Resource Group shining a light on visible and invisible disabilities and conditions, was founded in 2020. The initial idea came from a colleague who was living with recently diagnosed ADHD, and was struggling during the pandemic. They realized they couldn’t be the only one feeling this way and sought out other colleagues who wanted to raise awareness around disabilities and conditions, and create a safe space for all colleagues within Informa. Together, a small group of colleagues formed and worked to launch Illuminate in October 2020 within Informa Connect. In March 2021, the network gained AllInforma status and became active in all divisions.
AllInforma Illuminate plans events for colleagues to learn more about a variety of disabilities and conditions, works with various functions within the company such as HR and Talent and Acquisition to ensure that the organization is always improving and providing accessible options for our customers and colleagues, and represents the community. Illuminate works to shine a light on DEI conversations happening across each of the divisions.
We sat down with a few of the people who have been involved with Illuminate at Taylor & Francis, to ask them how employees benefit from the group, and why they think the group’s existence is important.
I can not only share experiences and tips with other folks in similar situations, but also advocate and hopefully improve things for those who don’t realize they're affected
Eleanor-Rose Papas, Editorial Operations Manager and Peer Review Manager, F1000Research: "When I first started working, a senior colleague recommended that I was open about who I am, as otherwise, I risk feeling ashamed. Admittedly they were talking about me being a massive geek, but I found that it applies to my conditions as well.
"I’ve GAD, Panic Disorder, and chronic depression and have done throughout my career, and yet I’ve found that how to support yourself and others in a work setting is rarely discussed, especially in an organized fashion.
"Illuminate seemed a great opportunity to change this, and by being involved I can not only share experiences and tips with other folks in similar situations, but also advocate and hopefully improve things for those who don’t realize they’re affected, or who aren’t comfortable raising issues or concerns for themselves."
You get to be at the forefront of exciting developments within the business
Emma Huck, Commissioning Team Manager, Taylor & Francis: "I had avidly followed the various AllInforma colleague-led networks that support and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion.
"When I first heard about Illuminate being created, a network to shine a light on what it's like to work and live with visible and invisible disabilities and conditions, I reached out to see if I could help in any way as I had both experience working with people with disabilities as well as my own lived experience with a chronic condition.
"I was welcomed on board as the internal champion for Taylor & Francis and was able to help support the launch of Illuminate across Informa.
"Being a champion has been a wonderful experience. Most of all, I've had the honor of learning from colleagues across the business about their lived experiences with various conditions and disabilities. I’ve met so many new people both within Taylor & Francis and across Informa that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise.
"I've also had the opportunity to attend pilots for a number of DE&I courses across the business and to view initiatives before they are launched in order to ensure that they meet our goals and are inclusive. It is so satisfying to see the positive impact that Illuminate has had on the business.
"I would encourage my colleagues to get involved with Illuminate as it’s a great opportunity to learn about how to improve accessibility and inclusivity. You get to be at the forefront of exciting developments within the business and gain a much broader view of the company."
Joining Illuminate just made sense...
Brianna Walker, Head of Content Management, Taylor & Francis: "In my role at Taylor & Francis, I focus heavily on the accessibility needs of our customers and readers, so joining Illuminate just made sense, and it enabled me to approach accessibility from a different perspective, with a real focus on providing benefits to colleagues and friends.
"I do not have a disability or condition myself, but I think it’s important for allies to step up and contribute to these conversations, highlighting the need for accessibility considerations in everyday life, whether personal or professional. I got involved with Illuminate right at the start before it became an AllInforma Network, and those late evenings working on our proposal, discussing the future of Illuminate, and figuring out the logistics were a highlight for me. I really believe we created something wonderful that offers a place of joint understanding and support for colleagues across the business, and I encourage everyone to get involved and share their stories and ideas.
I think it’s important for allies to step up and contribute to these conversations, highlighting the need for accessibility considerations in everyday life
“My skills and understanding have really broadened during the time I’ve worked with Illuminate, and I’ve been fortunate to work on a very exciting project which will be released later this year highlighting resources and training across the company. We want to make sure people are enabled to make a difference, no matter how big or small, and I can see that happening in real-time. Colleagues who attend our events have confirmed they are more aware of what accessibility is and how it can benefit themselves and their teams, as well as how it can be applied to their work to benefit our customers. No change is too small, and the work we’re doing is changing the culture one conversation at a time.
"Illuminate offers so many valuable opportunities to work with colleagues across the Informa companies and to make a real impact on colleagues and customers alike. The team is so supportive and excited to share news, events, and general conversation, which is incredibly inspiring and fulfilling. I’m proud to be a member of Illuminate and hope that more colleagues will join in and connect with us to grow the network and create a fully supportive environment for everyone. We can and should break down barriers to create an inclusive and more considered workplace for everyone. It’s wonderful to see Illuminate succeeding in this, but there is more to do and we could use everyone’s input to develop the network across the variety of needs that exist in the business.”
Illuminate is showing people that they are not alone.
Lynn Degele, Systems Support Specialist, Taylor & Francis: "Illuminate shines a light on hidden disabilities and conditions. I’m neurodivergent and discovered this as an adult in the workplace. When I was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyspraxia nine years ago, no one spoke about disability at work, and I did not have many people to talk to about my experience. Illuminate is showing people that they are not alone and is raising awareness about the range of disabilities and conditions that colleagues may be living within their day-to-day life.
"Before Illuminate was launched, I had already had experience of being open about my diagnosis in my team and the wider business. I also gave talks both at Taylor & Francis and my local libraries. Speaking about my strengths and challenges gave me confidence to be myself at work.
"Illuminate has given me a sense of community in the workplace. I would encourage directors and managers to put accessibility at the center of their projects, rather than as an afterthought, or on the onus of individuals to speak up and request adjustments. By getting involved with Illuminate, we can help create an environment that is inclusive so that colleagues can choose whether or not to be open about their diagnosis, and hopefully feel more supported to do so in time."
We can help create an environment that is inclusive so that colleagues can choose whether or not to be open about their diagnosis, and hopefully feel more supported to do so in time
Ryan Cooper, Books Sales Director, Channel Lead Books, Taylor & Francis: "Illuminate at Taylor & Francis is a hugely positive community where I can share my own experiences of severe hearing loss so that I can help others. As well as raising awareness, I really want to encourage colleagues with disabilities to be open in talking about their challenges. This as someone who spent too long trying to cover up my deafness before realizing the relief and support that comes from just talking about it.
"Disability is a diverse topic – it spans an incredibly wide range of conditions, but all united by challenge and a need for greater understanding. This is what makes Illuminate so important as an enabler for Taylor & Francis and Informa to ensure that disability diversity is both supported and celebrated. I’ve gained so much already from being connected to Illuminate, learning more about the huge range of physical disabilities and mental disorders experienced in life and the workplace. I hope this will make me a better colleague in the future.
Illuminate is so important as an enabler for Taylor & Francis and Informa to ensure that disability diversity is both supported and celebrated
"It’s so important that dialogue around disability is fostered and I’d encourage colleagues to get involved will Illuminate to either share their lived experience or learn from colleagues. We’ll definitely be a richer and better business as a result."
Taylor & Francis and Informa have some great resources available for well-being and support in the workplace
Charlie Greenfield, Data Steward, Taylor & Francis: "I wanted to find a place where I felt I could be part of a group that allows me to find out more support and resources that are accessible. This group shares lots of resources/events that are available in and out of Informa for different topics of interest.
"I joined this group because as a sufferer of Anxiety I wanted to have an extra place to access resources that could help me and listen to others share their stories."
"I have learned," Greenfield continues, "this is a place for everyone across all of Informa. It is a fully diverse place where people can share stories, raise awareness, a support network, attend virtual events, and have a safe space.
"I recommend colleagues join Illuminate because it is a place of sharing, general updates, and events that are taking place. It might not be for everyone but everyone is welcome! Taylor & Francis and Informa have some great resources available for well-being and support in the workplace."
We want to make sure people are enabled to make a difference, no matter how big or small, and I can see that happening in real time... No change is too small, and the work we’re doing is changing the culture one conversation at a time.