2020 has been uncertain to say the least. This pandemic is fundamentally changing every assumption we had about the world, our social interactions, and how we work. Starting out 2020, AMD’s top D&I priority was to foster a culture of belonging. We had no idea how important this goal was going to be as the majority of our workforce moved to remote work overnight due to the pandemic.

We fundamentally believe that our success as a company hinges upon our employees, both new and tenured, feeling they “belong” at AMD. We believe “belonging” is what every employee desires in a workplace.

A culture of belonging ensures employees believe they have a safe place at work to have not only a voice, but for that voice to be heard. Our foundation for belonging is Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – voluntary, employee-led groups made up of individuals who join together based on common interests, backgrounds or demographic factors such as gender, race or ethnicity. The pandemic may force us into social distancing, but it does not mean that we need to lose our work-centered relationships and support. These groups can help lift spirits and connect employees in challenging times. Our ERGs have grown rapidly because they can help employees and community members cope.

Traditionally, our diversity, belonging, and inclusion team traveled globally to deliver a variety of programs, and one of our main missions was outreach around ERGs. With our work environment completely disrupted across the company and globe due to the pandemic, we had to quickly change course and rely on our ERG leaders to find inventive ways to interact with members. ERGs quickly found a way to virtually maintain a sense of community and belonging and drive their mission while working from home.

We learned there is power in virtual events; members feel a sense of community when gathering together from their computers, whether it’s to play a fun game, share ideas on mental health, provide coaching on career planning, or discuss social justice issues and psychological safety.

“All employees benefit from a workplace that focuses on belonging.This absolutely doesn’t supersede the equally important focus on diversity and inclusion”

Virtual events have even expanded the reach of ERGs at AMD. We see attendance beyond the traditional live events and even more questions and comments, allowing an increased connection with the regions. Recording events and offering playback for those who could not attend provides access to content at any time (again, expanding reach). We found that local employees are attending events online that they would otherwise skip when working in the office.

Two ERGs that are worth highlighting is AMD’s African American Forum and AMD’s Caregivers

The African American Forum is raising awareness of virtual events around the racial injustice in the U.S. (The Murder of George Floyd Race & Consequences of Leadership) to foster psychological safety. The group also hosted “Safe Space Chats” with AMD’s leadership team and membership to discuss experiences, share pain, concerns, and grievances and offer opinions of changes they would like to see within the industry and at AMD.

With so many kids and elderly loved ones in need of extra help, our Caregivers ERG has become a resource to employees. By sharing tips, resources, and webinars on working remotely and managing family obligations, we support each other as a community. Caregivers also partnered with our Women’s Forum hosting sessions on resilience and happiness – something we all need during this time!

ERGs Value to AMD

Responses to our Employee Engagement Survey show that our focus on creating a culture of belonging through ERG outreach and intersectionality works. The Diversity and Inclusion index went up 3 percentage points in 2020. In addition, we received a 90% favorable score to the question: “I believe AMD respects my personal views and values, allowing me to be my true self at work.”

We have doubled the number of ERGs, from 5 to 10 in the past 12 months. Existing ERGs report an increase in employees joining ERG leadership teams.

All employees benefit from a workplace that focuses on belonging. This absolutely doesn’t supersede the equally important focus on diversity and inclusion. We believe belonging is the output when diversity and inclusion efforts are done “right.” Employees “attach” when they feel invited, included, and important. We have seen both in data and anecdotally that our team members who previously felt more hidden now see other employees that represent their interests and characteristics and it positively impacts their engagement. As more employees come together through shared experiences, we create a culture of belonging where the voices and uniqueness of every AMDer is celebrated.

About Mark Pearson

Mark Pearson is Senior Director, Talent and Organizational Capabilities at AMD. Mark has been with the organization since 2008. With over 25 years of experience in Human Resources, Mark is a results[1]oriented organization development executive with broad experience in building and implementing highly successful internal education programs and processes for personnel in small businesses and Fortune 25 companies. He has designed leadership programs, interventions and consulted senior executives on organization development issues and initiatives, global facilitation, and executive coaching.