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MSP Establishes Employee Resource Groups to Modernize Agency Culture and Better Support Employees

The Michigan State Police is proud to be among one of the first state agencies in Michigan to establish Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), as one way in which the department is modernizing its approach to attracting talent, improving employee retention, practicing inclusion and amplifying allyship for personal growth and community development. Today, within the MSP, there are six ERGs that offer MSP personnel from similar backgrounds a way to connect with each other and raise awareness throughout the agency.

Graphic of Employee Resource Group logo

“Three years ago, when we began this initiative, we were looking for a way to evolve as an agency and be more socially responsible,” said Stephanie Horton, Human Resources Director for the MSP and a member of Women Leading Change, the group dedicated to promoting equity for women within the organization. “At the MSP, we prioritize professional development, inclusion and representation, and our ERGs highlight this commitment. We want our agency to be a place that attracts people who want to build long-term careers here.”

The six ERGs are:

African American

Asian Pacific Islander American

Diverse Abilities, which represents individuals suffering from chronic or acute conditions affecting the employment environment

MSP P.R.I.D.E. (Professionals Respecting the Identities of Everyone)

MSP Military Veteran

Women Leading Change

ERGs are employee-led groups that serve as internal communities where individuals with shared identities can voluntarily gather to celebrate their common experiences and strengthen workplace culture through mentorship and educational opportunities. Ultimately, these groups provide a sense of belonging for employees, which increases workplace satisfaction, attracts talent and drives employee retention.

At MSP, each ERG is led by a chairperson and a leader from the MSP’s executive team, with oversight and guidance provided by the department’s Equity and Inclusion Officer.

“ERGs are a way of keeping employees engaged and empowering them to be a part of the decision-making process,” said Amy Bergman, president of Insight HRM (Human Resources Management), an HR consulting firm. “ERGs are becoming more prevalent as talent acquisition and retention has become more difficult.”

Women Leading Change was the first employee-established ERG for the MSP. Its members work to break down barriers women face in policing through recruitment and retention efforts and advocating for policy change within the organization.

“The department was formed in 1917, but it wasn’t until 1967, 50 years later, when women were allowed to be troopers,” said Chelsea Deckler, Manager of the Planning, Research and Accreditation Section, and chair of the Women Leading Change ERG. “And today, 55 years later, only 9 percent of MSP sworn enforcement members are women.

“Women have historically worn many hats, and the lack of flexibility has been a challenge for them in the field,” said Deckler. “In our ERG, we’re focused on changing that. We host listening sessions to understand the barriers that prevent female civilians from becoming troopers, then we develop strategies to tackle those issues.”

In the last two years, Women Leading Change has held education and recruitment events. They have also held several donation drives throughout the communities they serve, as philanthropy and giving back is an important facet of the group. They also researched ways to influence policy and culture changes within the agency. And since they were the first ERG to be established, other groups are working to follow their lead.

“Establishing intersectionality between all perspectives, beliefs, values, cultures and backgrounds makes us better people and a better organization,” shared D/Sgt. Antonio Richardson, who works in the MSP Cyber Section and chairs the African American ERG. “We wanted to create a space where we celebrate our shared humanity while welcoming everyone to bring their uniqueness to the table. That’s why this work is so important. That’s what makes employees want to devote their careers to an organization.”

The African American ERG was formed in September and held two virtual meetings in 2022 as well as one hybrid gathering just last month, where both group members and other MSP employees attended and were active in seeking deeper understanding and a desire to implement organizational change.

“We’re creating a safe space for employees to openly discuss heavy topics,” added Richardson, who believes one of the keys to mobilizing ERGs in establishing unity, understanding and workplace satisfaction is allyship. “ERGs give everyone within the MSP a voice and a connectedness within the agency, and when they come together to support one another through allyship, their voices are elevated that much more.”

Richardson hopes more people within the MSP take initiative to create more ERGs until all the different voices within the organization are represented.