Erin Smith is a director at Jabian, the lead of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) service offering, and co-lead of Jabian African American Group (JAAG) team. For Black History Month, we sat down with Erin to discuss JAAG, her career, and allyship.
Q: What is JAAG’s purpose statement and what is your role within the group?
A: JAAG strives to strengthen and support both African Americans at Jabian and Jabian-at-large by driving inclusion efforts, building professional networks, uplifting the African American community through targeted outreach opportunities, and supporting the recruitment, retention, and development of African Americans at Jabian.
I co-lead JAAG along with Laura Rodney but we’ve got a small Army of our peers supporting us (shameless plug – we’re always looking for more).
Q: How does JAAG reinforce Jabian’s diversity objectives to foster an inclusive culture?
A: We know that fostering an inclusive culture begins with our people. One of our focus areas is around driving employee engagement and growing internal DEI knowledge. Over the past year, we have partnered with the DEI and HCM Offering Teams, Marketing, and other ERGs on activities to build and strengthen inclusion at Jabian, such as the ‘Inside Jabian’ speaker series, Black History Month Fireside Chat, and Unconscious Bias conversations.
Q: What is one way employees and clients can demonstrate allyship with their African American colleagues?
A: There are many ways to demonstrate allyship and everyone has to figure out what’s right for them. But the first step I always recommend is educating yourself. Learning more about the history, culture, and listening to the personal experiences of your Black colleagues. Also, there’s plenty of books and online resources available to expand your knowledge.
Other ways that employees and clients can demonstrate allyship include, taking action in the community, not being silent, supporting Black-owned businesses, and using your power, privilege, and influence to help open doors and opportunities for your Black colleagues.
Q: What is your area of expertise within Jabian?
A: All things Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion! DEI is my passion, and it excites me to be able to advise on and witness the DEI journeys of clients and colleagues. I’ve also got a strong P3M background that always comes in handy.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment – personal or professional?
A: One of my proudest professional accomplishments was speaking on the TAG Culture Beats Strategy panel last fall. People who really know me know that I’m not big on public speaking. Being on the panel pushed me out of my comfort zone in immense ways. However, it was just the nudge that I needed and I’m looking forward to speaking on more panels in the future.
*This interview does not speak for each member of any Employee Resource Group at Jabian and is not representing those who share the defining attribute of our Employee Resource Groups at Jabian. Any individual promulgating the interview speaks for himself or herself when contributing to its content.*