NNSY ERG spotlight: African American Employee Resource Group

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Commander, Capt. Kai Torkelson and members from the African American – ERG provided a certificate of appreciation to Daybreak and Noon anchor of Channel 13 News Now's Ashley Smith, who was the guest speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. ceremony.
January 31, 2020

Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) African American – Employee Resource Group (AA-ERG) is one of seven ERGs hosted NNSY. Its goal is to be a place where an employee can go to get resources to help better both the shipyard and employee.

“The name of the ERG can be misleading,” said AA-ERG’s Chair, Michael Taylor. “The AA-ERG is open to all races, creeds, religions and so forth.”

The AA-ERG hosts the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration every January as well as a variety of events during February for African American History Month.

“This is a chance to remind everyone of the struggles and experiences that our ancestors went through,” said AA-ERG member, Ashley Chew. “Some people take for granted the freedom and opportunities that we have today.”

“We share the past so we can better ourselves in the future,” said Taylor. “We have to remember that we can’t change the past, but we can change the future.”

The AA-ERG helps to introduce people to opportunities. Members mentor and coach other shipyard employees so that they can reach their career and personal goals. They also promote internal job opportunities.

“We’re also a group where one can come to discuss matters and to vent,” said Taylor. “It’s a chance to learn from each other and to provide and receive perspectives on any given situation.”

If employees are having challenges with a variety of shipyard matters, they have a place to go to find out what is the best action to take.

“The AA-ERG helps employees by showing them not every issue needs to go to the Equal Opportunity Office,” said Taylor. “There are other ways that an issue could be resolved and we provide the resources to show them the way.”

The AA-ERG also partners with NNSY’s other resource groups.

“Throughout the year we join forces with the other shipyard ERGs,” said Taylor. “Working with other groups like the Federal Women’s Program, Native American Heritage – ERG and the others gives us a chance to show that we are all on one team. We all have the same kind of issues.”