Let’s Diversify Our Tables

In late 2016, I began a journey to learn more about Quicken Loans and the Rock Family of Companies, and determine if the next chapter of my life could entail serving as their Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

When I began interviewing, I had one big question: where is the energy and focus on diversity and inclusion, for the biggest employer in the largest black city in America, coming from?

I often thought about this quote from Angela Davis, “I have a hard time accepting diversity as a synonym for justice. Diversity is a corporate strategy. It’s a strategy designed to ensure that the institution functions in the same way that it functioned before, except now you have some black faces and brown faces.”

I wanted to make sure this initiative was far more than a corporate strategy.

With that lens, I let leaders at every level know that I wouldn’t be here to check a box. Nor to placate or minimize the experience of our richly diverse 18,000 team members.

I told them I would ensure that diversity and inclusion are celebrated within the organization and everyone we do business with.  And to do so, I would help lead structural changes that bring diversity and inclusion to the forefront of everything we do.

Because our commitment to this role must be real.

Soon I learned that many team members across the organization had been laying the groundwork and making the business case for strengthening diversity and inclusion initiatives for many years. Indeed, the critical pieces to allow for transformational change existed.

But, as our chairman Dan Gilbert likes to say, “What got us here is not going to get us there.” And having the pieces was just a start.

While many companies seek to improve their bottom line, we at Quicken Loans and the Rock Family of Companies also know that diversity and inclusion are imperative to continuing innovation and achieving the best possible outcomes.

Oftentimes, people hired into a company are asked to be a cog in a machine. My first thought in my new role was, “how do we continue to humanize and empower our team members and their vast experiences, especially given how many other companies are machines built off decades of experiences that reflect homogenous and patriarchal structures?”

For us, storytelling seemed like a logical place to begin. With 18,000 people, we don’t all have the same perspective. We do, however, all have the same principle and a shared culture of respect. And sharing our truths with each other has allowed us to better understand our similarities as well as honor our differences. This has informed how we relate to each other, as well as how we serve the public.

I had the privilege of building our strategy upon a strong foundation with commitment from leaders at every level, as well as assembling a passionate, purpose-driven team that continues to ensure that we are thoughtful about our efforts and accountable to each other.

Now, more than ever, it is essential for every company to take a look around the table and see if there is a viewpoint that is missing. If there is, that can be a powerful opportunity! These revelations, in turn, can allow you to operate in a different space.

To get to that next level, we need to make sure our tables are diverse and inclusive. We all sit at a table, whether it’s in a boardroom, at the PTA, or in our dining room. As a native Detroiter and a black woman, I am proud to be at the table of a nationwide organization that understands and values what I bring to it – except now as Chief Diversity Officer.

With that title comes a responsibility to myself, our companies, and our communities.

Every table should reflect and celebrate the diversity of those it serves.

Let’s all commit to improving those we sit at.

Trina Scott is a proud native Detroiter, wife, mother, unapologetic Black woman, glass ceiling breaker, and Chief Diversity Officer of Rock Holdings, Inc.

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