What’s So Great about ERGs?

Remember the ‘80s show “Cheers?” One of the reasons we all wanted to go to that Boston pub was that it was the place where “everybody knows your name … and they’re always glad you came.” 

 It was a place where everyone belonged.

 In the workplace, we all want to belong too. Yet, sometimes, and especially if you feel different than those around you, work can be a lonely and isolating place.  When you factor in telecommuting and working from home, the isolation can feel all too real.

ERGs create connections and bridge gaps

Many of our clients are building connections and bridging gaps through Employee Resource Groups or ERGs. These employer-supported groups form out of an organic need to create relationships with people of similar backgrounds or interests.

 “These forums offered support, understanding, information and resource sharing that would hopefully ensure participants’ collective success. At their most basic, these organizations provided necessary ‘safe spaces’ at a crucial time, when people of difference weren’t comfortable being seen together and supporting each other within office walls. Sanctioned or not, these ‘safe spaces’ and support systems made all the difference in the world — and since then, they have evolved into much, much more,” according to the Bloomberg article, “Why Employee Resource Groups Still Matter.” 

Groups formed around shared interests, such those that support military families, or work identities, such as emerging leaders or women in leadership. Others reflected more personal identities, such as LGBTQ, African-American, Asian and Hispanic groups. 

Tapping the power of ERGs is good for business

While ERGs have been good for individual employees, they’ve also been good for business. ERGs have helped to support corporate Diversity & Inclusion efforts, improved employee engagement and served as a positive recruitment and retention tool.

With shifting demographics of both employees and customers, more companies are leveraging their workforces to reach diverse customers and communities.

At Rhudy & Co., we’ve seen some clients regularly engage their ERGs to solve unique business problems, maximize opportunities or engage diverse suppliers. That approach is good for employees and their organizations with fresh thinking and perspectives.

 Supporting D&I

When companies become more diverse and inclusive, they often gain a better understanding of their customers — who are also diverse. 

ERGs also help welcome new employees. The first 60 to 90 days in a new job are critical for employees, and ERGs can help bridge the gap.

 Helping employees belong and build community can be good for society, too. In his ground-breaking book “Bowling Alone,” author Robert D. Putnam shares that when people belong, they build “social capital” — that intangible that comes from connection and community. According to Putnam, social capital refers to the collective value of all “social networks” — who people know.

 “Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives … Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer and better able to govern a just and stable democracy,” he wrote.

 Each of us needs that “great, good place,” where were feel we belong — where it feels like everybody knows our name. 

Donna Dunn appreciates her community — those who make her feel valued, those who challenge her and those who help her grow.

Happy Birthday Impact 100!

It’s been a decade since our own Talley Baratka began sharing her vision for something truly special for Richmond, Virginia. A believer in the power of connection, Talley brought her experience in community relations, her network of friends and colleagues and her passion for her region together to create Impact 100 Richmond in 2009. 

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Women from all walks of life, including Michele Rhudy, wanted to be a part of one of Richmond’s first women’s collective giving organizations and were excited about making a meaningful difference in the community. 

“Impact 100 started a journey for Richmond, but also my life,” said Michele. “As a founding member, it is how I met one of my dearest, lifelong friends, Talley Baratka. Impact 100 also inspired Girl Power Grants — a giving collective for teenage girls, founded by my daughter Morgan. Through Impact I have seen how goodness can ripple, and how one act of giving often inspires the next. I’m so grateful for the exposure the organization has given me to the concerns in our community, and the countless ways we all can serve in our own backyards.”

Since its founding, Impact 100 has touched more than 1,000 individual members, including educators, business leaders, stay-at-home mothers, small business owners and young women growing in their careers. Together they’ve awarded $1.4 million to 14 nonprofits to ensure local communities remain vital, vibrant and strong.  

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Impact 100 RVA Member Susan Meyers said, “It’s just been a wonderful journey. I’ve met wonderful women who have enriched my life so much. It’s been an opportunity to get to know people who are enriching Richmond in such varied ways.” Read more in the organization’s 10th anniversary newsletter

Learn more about Impact 100 Richmond and join the journey this fall, as it moves toward two $100,000 grants and a new community grant for spring 2019. The Big Kick (kickoff) event is Oct. 30 at Crossroads Arts Center. If you can’t make it, check out an Open Join.

 Mark your calendar!

  • Big Kick 10.30.18 | CrossRoads Arts Center 

  • Open Join 11.29.18 | Art 180 

  • Big Learn 1.29.19 | Williams Mullen 

  • Open Join 2.26.19 | The Fahrenheit Group

More Than I Imagined: Lessons from my Rhudy & Co. Internship

I have spent the last three months as the summer intern for Rhudy & Co. As I reflect on a summer well-spent with the Rhudy team, I am realizing the numerous ways I have become better prepared for my final year at James Madison University. Further, I am recognizing the importance of interning as a college student to gain skills for life, business, and this crazy thing we call “the real world.”


I would like to preface this blog post by saying that classes, professors, exams, and studying are wonderful tools. College teaches you the fundamentals while doing the best it can to prepare you for your chosen career. However, books and theory can only do so much. I’m here to share with you the unique lessons that internships teach college students. 

1.     Build relationships within your field

Make connections. Network. Form relationships.

These are all phrases that are reiterated to young professionals. What they don’t tell you, is that it can sometimes be hard to go out and connect on your own.

By interning for a company or firm, you make different connections weekly and sometimes even daily. The relationships you form can teach you countless skills, help you to collaborate, and increase your chances of finding a career after college.

You never know where a short conversation can lead you. 

My personal experience at Rhudy & Co. has encouraged me to talk to anyone I meet, both in and out of the office. You never know where a short conversation can lead you. 

2.     Learn how to accomplish tasks on a real world timeline

It isn’t uncommon for a project to be assigned and due the same day. Sometimes, you have to work as efficiently as possible to meet a client’s needs. By getting first-hand experience, you learn the importance of doing your best work at your best speed. This skill is beneficial to both schoolwork and a job post-graduation. 

3.     Figure out where you belong and what you like

It is almost impossible to figure out exactly what you want in a career until you experience, learn, and discover what you have a passion for and where you succeed. By interning, you can learn where in your field you fit in and what specific jobs are the best for you.

I quickly learned at Rhudy & Co. that the field of strategic communications is something that interests me. While just studying in school, I wasn’t always sure where I saw myself in the communications field. Now, I’ve learned what area I enjoy, which will give me a leg-up when I enter the real world.  

4.     Good people make for good business

If you trust and respect your colleagues, business will be better.

The people you work with make a difference. Working with good, honest, and kind-hearted individuals make it easier to connect and build relationships. If you trust and respect your colleagues, business will be better.

By far, this is the biggest lesson I learned while interning with Rhudy & Co. My team members were just as eager to teach as I was to learn. Without these outstanding people, I would never know what to look for in a future career. It’s not always just about the job, but those surrounding you in that job. 

Kristen Livingston is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., studying creative advertising. As a native Richmonder, she misses her daily walks to Stella’s for quinoa shakers in Rhudy & Co.’s work neighborhood of Scott’s Addition.

Meet Frank Wyatt: Our Favorite Nonagenarian #RVA Innovator

Frank Wyatt is a 91-year-old businessman and Rhudy & Co.’s inspirational landlord. Mr. Wyatt began his journey in the business world at age 11, as a newspaper carrier. Growing up with a business-minded father, Mr. Wyatt gained his entrepreneurial spirit and his passion for hard work. From the automobile industry, to the farm, to finding a passion for commercial real estate, Mr. Wyatt has done it all. 

Rhudy & Co. loves finding inspiration, especially in our own neighborhood. We sat down with Mr. Wyatt to hear his eight-decade journey in the business world and to learn how he ended up as the owner of the Curles Neck Dairy building, here in Scott’s Addition. Enjoy this interview and be inspired by one of our favorite, RVA neighbors.

Do you know an RVA innovator we should highlight? 
Send us a Facebook message with the details.