• May 17, 2022

ASG’s Women Leaders in Technology Program Joins Rocket Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Program; Four Takeaways from the Conversation

At EVOLVE21, the annual customer and partner conference hosted by ASG, a Rocket company, we announced that ASG’s Women Leaders in Technology (WLIT) program is officially a part of Rocket Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RIDE). WLIT is led by a remarkable group of ambassadors at ASG who create an environment of mentorship and connection that helps women feel supported in a typically male-dominated industry. As a group they host events, share resources and network to build relationships across the organization and larger tech industry.

The announcement of our new partnership came during the WLIT coffee talk at EVOLVE21, an annual staple of the EVOLVE conference that is consistently one of the event’s most well-attended sessions—by men and women alike! This year’s conversation between me and Rocki Howard, chief people officer at The Mom Project, was moderated by Kelly Sutter, ASG’s head of global field marketing and WLIT/RIDE ambassador. We discussed the power of diverse voices coming together to create a culture where everyone can show up authentically, the need for organizations to put people first in their DEI initiatives and so much more. These conversations are important, and even more important are the actions we implement from our learnings. Here is some of the advice we shared in the conversation that will help organizations and individuals make tangible change.

  1. Change the Language Around Diversity

How we talk about things has power – it guides our thinking and our actions. When we talk about diversity, it’s important that we are using language that centers on those who have been most marginalized historically. For instance, when we call someone a “diverse candidate,” what implications does that have? This label often erases a person’s contributions and individual identity and puts them into a bucket with the caveat, “Are they also qualified?”

Instead, think about everyone who would be considered diverse. In the United States, at least, essentially the only person not included in that label is a straight, white, cisgender, Christian man. When we think about it like that, we can start to shift that paradigm around who is centered in the language that we use.

  1. Minimize Bias at Every Stage

Bias can infiltrate every process within an organization, whether conscious or not. To improve the hiring process, organizations should reflect on who is sitting on their hiring board – representation in these spaces helps ensure that decision-makers can advocate for and amplify the voices of candidates with all backgrounds and experiences. Meaningful progress in hiring spaces also requires organizations align their investments with their goals. A report Rocki worked on while at Smart Recruiters found that 68% of leaders don’t have the recruiting budget to meet the diversity goals they’ve set.

Just hiring diverse candidates isn’t enough to shift culture, though. Organizations must work to support employees throughout their journey with continued commitment to their success, for instance by promoting from within. Uplifting people by building their confidence helps to create the positive culture that fosters real inclusion and authenticity.

  1. Make Diversity Personal

As Rocki noted in our conversation, it is sometimes easier to discuss diversity as an initiative because it allows us to distance ourselves from doing the actual work. Instead, we need to listen to people’s unique experiences, or origin stories, as Rocki calls them, to connect with each other on a human level. This process of humanizing diversity allows everyone to get involved in making an impact, rather than just one high level employee who is “in charge” of diversity at an organization. When everyone is working together to create an inclusive environment, employees feel safe to show up as themselves.

Understanding our own and others’ origin stories allows us to see multiple dimensions of diversity. Everyone has a unique, layered identity that impacts their perspectives and work. Factors like race, gender identity, ethnicity, nationality, physical ability, sexual orientation and so many others make up our lived experiences. A single mom has a unique identity, as does a first-generation college student and a person who is neurodivergent – all of these things contribute to the way we move through the world. When we humanize diversity, we are able to support every person as their whole selves.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

Many people are afraid to say the wrong thing when they are involved in conversations around diversity and end up staying silent. But making mistakes is a part of the process, and everyone should get more comfortable with admitting them and growing from them. Staying humble is critical to being an effective ally, and as Rocki shared, even people who are professionals in this space still make mistakes and learn from them.

Creating a culture where taking risks and making mistakes is encouraged allows employees to do their best work and truly achieve their full potential. Fostering this type of psychological safety in the workplace can lead to improved results for the organization, as employees have increased confidence in their abilities and feel supported by their team.

Go Beyond Intent, Create Impact

Diverse organizations meet – and exceed – their goals faster, increase revenue and retain better talent. Rocki shared that diverse organizations are 35% more likely to have increased ROI and make better business decisions 87% of the time. Diversity can no longer be seen as something that’s just nice to have – it is a business imperative.

Join Rocket in our continued commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with RIDE and WLIT. Watch our EVOLVE21 coffee talk, and previous coffee talks, on demand here. And be sure to save the date and join us for our next WLIT coffee talk series on March 8, 2022, International Women’s Day.



Sharra Owens-Schwartz 4 Posts

Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Senior Director at Rocket Software


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