At The Mom Project, we are champions of diversity, working hard each and every day to advocate for inclusion and equity in workplaces. The work we do would not be possible without our Chief Equity and Impact Officer, Rocki Howard, a bold diversity advocate and agent for change. We are thrilled to announce that Rocki has been recognized as a leader in the DE&I space on Staffing Industry Analysts’ (SIA) 2023 DE&I Influencers List.
Each year, SIA honors individuals who have “made great strides in advancing diversity in the workforce solutions ecosystem and are passionate advocates for others — including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, disabled, women and working mothers, and military veterans and spouses — while never shying away from tough conversations on DE&I.”
This year marks the second time Rocki has landed on SIA’s DE&I Influencers List since joining The Mom Project team in 2021. We couldn’t be prouder of the great strides she’s made both within our organization and for countless others. We sat down with Rocki to get her perspective on DE&I and how she uses her platform to create a better future for us all.
Q: What made you interested in pursuing work as a DE&I changemaker?
A: As a Black woman in the United States, I've experienced my share of biases, discrimination, and racism over the course of my career. It came to a point where I'd had enough and was through trying to climb the ladder on someone else's terms. I resolved to show up authentically and use my voice and my skills to be a bold advocate for others. This helped hone my mission to make diversity and inclusion an integral part of recruitment and extend it through the talent management lifecycle — resulting in inclusive workplace cultures that empower people and enhance company performance.
Q: How do your personal experiences impact your work with The Mom Project?
A: I identify as she/her, and I am a Black, Christian, and a Gen X wife and dual working mom over 50 who came from economic adversity. My background absolutely influences my work with The Mom Project as I’m able to draw on my own lived experiences to bring empathy and understanding to the table. The impact of my personal history has led to a compassionate, multi-dimensional view of diversity that informs my work and provides a perspective to create positive change for moms.
Q: How do diverse teams, including moms, help workplaces thrive?
A: Remember that diversity is not simply a business initiative; it is a human imperative. That said, diverse teams have been shown time and again to greatly enhance business operations. I've seen the benefits firsthand. An eye-opening moment for me was realizing that a team I had built, composed of people of color, women, veterans and LGBTQIA, resulted in increased productivity and employee satisfaction. The evidence is not just anecdotal — the data supports this notion as well.
For moms in particular, it’s critical to recognize the skills they’ve honed as a mother and how helpful those can be at work. Some of the best lessons that I've learned about being a leader I've learned from being a mom. Moms are masters at budgeting, project management, negotiation, time management, education, and so much more.
Moms know what they offer, and organizations who acknowledge their unique attributes can gain a competitive advantage. Often, they’re just waiting for the right opportunity. Imagine the results companies could see if they take actionable steps to attract, engage, retain, and support moms. They could gain an amazing array of thought and skills.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: My central theme for each day is helping to advocate and create respectful workplaces for “dual working moms.” I believe that every mom is a working mother, so I look for solutions that support women who work inside and outside the home.
I work very closely with our clients and help them understand and leverage The Mom Project’s WerkLabs data that shows what it’s like to be a mom in the workplace. I also work with RISE, our non-profit arm of The Mom Project that creates programs and leans into upskilling and reskilling opportunities for moms and women of color in emerging industries and careers in technology.
Q: How can companies, and all of us, improve DE&I at work and in life?
A: While companies that prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging will have a competitive advantage, the problem isn’t one that can be solved by one company alone. I like to say that we all move forward when we move together, and that applies here — we all have to come together as a global community and work together to effect change.
I genuinely believe change happens one step, one story, one conversation, one action at a time, because when you change the world for one person, they see things differently — and then their actions change, which in turn affects others, and the change cycle continues as the effects multiply. To find success, we must look past ourselves and understand what another person needs. This is how we create empathy, which is central in our ability to change the world.
Congratulations, Rocki — we’re so honored to have you as part of The Mom Project team!
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