Conagra Brands Works With ERGs to Bolster Diversity Recruiting Efforts

January 10, 2022 | By Kevin Gray

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TAGS: best practices, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, recruiting methods, talent acquisition,

Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

Conagra Brands’ Employee Resource Groups
  • Asian Employee Resource Group;
  • Black Employee Resource Group;
  • LatinX Employee Resource Group;
  • LGTBQ+ ALLY Employee Resource Group;
  • Veterans Employee Resource Group;
  • Women’s Employee Resource Group; and
  • Young Professionals Employee Resource Group.

For more information about Conagra Brands’ employee resource groups, see

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be valuable tools for helping employers to bolster their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and to help with effective onboarding and retention.
“ERGs are such a great nugget of recruiting power that every company should have in their back pocket when trying to attract and recruit candidates,” says Maritza Fernandez, senior campus recruiter and intern program manager at Conagra Brands.

“They are able to provide prospective employees that very important glimpse into their company. Prospective associates are looking to gain information that will allow them to determine if the company would be the right fit for them; that may not always be conveyed during an interview.”   

The Conagra Brands Campus Recruiting Team manages all internal and external ERG programs, which includes the creation of the programs and engaging ERG members and students.

“We first connected with the leads of each of our seven ERGs to discuss the vision we had on how the groups could help in increasing our diverse talent hires,” Fernandez says.

“Building partnerships with the leads was integral in gaining buy-in from all the ERG members. We wanted them to be excited to be on this journey with us and we wanted our ERGs to see the potential ROI of their partnership with us in recruiting talent. They are a very important part of what we were trying to accomplish. Gaining their buy-in was the most crucial part of this partnership.”

Fernandez also underscored the importance of empowering the ERGs to help drive Conagra Brands’ diverse recruiting efforts. 

Fernandez and her team engaged and integrated ERGs into Conagra Brands’ recruiting processes by developing internal and external programs that benefit the organization’s DEI recruiting, onboarding, and retention efforts. These programs are: 

  • ERG Buddy Program (internal)—An outstanding intern experience is one of the most important tools in building a talent pipeline. This program is essential in providing Conagra Brands’ interns with an extra level of support during their summer with the organization. An internship program is overwhelming when trying to navigate all the different aspects of the program and learning about the company. Conagra Brands pairs its interns with ERG buddies to help them ease that transition. 
  • Candidate Connect Program (CCP; external)—When interviewing, especially in a virtual setting, it can be difficult at times for a candidate to understand the company’s culture and learn about how the company supports its associates. The CCP allows candidates to connect with associates to learn about their journey with the company and how they have felt supported along the way. Being able to gain some “inside knowledge” as a candidate is a valuable tool for them to help them make one of the most important decisions of their life.
  • ERG and university partnerships (external)—Early talent identification is a big factor of any successful campus recruiting strategy. The partnerships with universities that Conagra Brands has built have proven to be extremely valuable. 
  • Virtual networking sessions (VNS; external)—Students have made it very clear over the last few years that they want to learn more about companies, but are less interested in attending career fairs. Conagra Brands’ VNS provide students with a valuable inside look into the company. VNS allow students to connect with individuals who can provide them with key information that would allow them to make an informed decision about a possible career at the company. 

“All of these programs that we have implemented into our campus strategy have allowed us to attract a diverse slate of students that we were not able to attract with just attending the traditional career fair,” Fernandez explains.

“Many of our interns who have gone on to become associates of our company have, in turn, become members of our ERG programs, participated in our Candidate Connect Program, and also participated in our virtual networking sessions. They have had amazing experiences as interns and have ‘given back’ to help us recruit future talent.”

The campus recruiting team uses data to determine the true ROI of its collaboration with the ERG groups. Data address:

  • Did interns participate in the ERG Buddy Program during the summer?
  • Did interns accept a return/FT offer? 
  • Did team members meet Conagra Brands’ interns at an external networking event?
  • Did candidates go on to interview with Conagra Brands and accept an internship offer? 
  • Did team members meet candidates at a workshop (resume or interview building)?
  • Did candidates apply, interview, and accept an offer?

“Understanding how our conversion had changed after we partnered with our ERG group has led us to increase our diverse hires and go on to brainstorm other ways we can partner with our ERGs in the future,” Fernandez says.

For example, the campus recruiting team partnered with members from four different ERGs to host external networking sessions specifically targeting currently enrolled students to build awareness of DEI at Conagra Brands. The group advertised networking session on various platforms and engaged career services offices at target schools to increase event awareness and attendance. The result: Applications increased by 7% for Conagra Brands’ remaining 2021 internship positions 10 days post event.

“Universities are looking for companies to become true partners and provide resources to their students,” Fernandez says.

“Through our ERG partnerships, we have been able to build meaningful relationships with universities and career services offices to not only help build our brand and increase diversity hiring, but most importantly, to provide students with helpful tools to build their own portfolio. Any company that already has ERGs has a very important tool that they can use to help in recruiting efforts.”