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EP 282: Top Examples of Diversity Initiatives that Work, with iRelaunch Diversity Lead Janet Peterson

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Episode Description

Janet Peterson is Diversity Lead at iRelaunch, and like many on the iRelaunch team, Janet is a relauncher. Prior to her five-year career break, Janet held leadership roles in sales, marketing, and training and advocacy at Johnson & Johnson, and at Xerox Corporation. She served as board member for the American Diabetes Association and was a liaison for the National Urban League, NAACP and La Raza. Janet currently serves her community through Mocha Moms, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Women's Ministries. Janet discusses the initiatives, events, and programming that have made the biggest impact in diversifying the iRelaunch pool. Employers, relaunchers and others interested in impactful diversity measures - this episode is for you.

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3 2, 1. I relaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman, Cohen. CEO and Co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. Before we get started, I want to remind our relaunchers who are actively relaunching to make sure to go to the iRelaunch job board and upload your resume and complete your profile there because that is where we go to share, relaunch or profiles with employers who are hiring for their career reentry jobs and programs today.

We welcome our own Janet Peterson. She's the diversity lead on our team right here at iRelaunch. Like many on our team, Janet is a Relauncher. Prior to her five-year career break, Janet held leadership roles in sales, marketing, and training and advocacy at Johnson & Johnson, and at Xerox Corporation. She served as a five-year leadership board member for the American Diabetes Association and was a liaison for the National Urban League, NAACP and Raza.

Janet currently serves her community through Mocha Moms, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Women's Ministries. Janet has been focusing her efforts on diversifying the iRelaunch talent pool, and today we want to talk about what initiatives, events, and programming have made the biggest impact in diversifying our pool.

So whether you are an employer or a relauncher interested in real examples of diversity efforts that make a difference, this conversation is for you. Janet, welcome to 3, 2, 1, iRelaunch.

Janet Peterson: Yay. Thank you so much, Carol. It's so good to be here. Yeah, let me just share this too, you did mention that I'm a relauncher and it just seems like it was not that long ago that I was literally sitting in my office working on the Roadmap and listening to podcasts.

And so it is just what, it really is an honor to come full circle, to now be a guest on the podcast. So thank you for having me.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. Well, we love that you found the iRelaunch podcast and the iRelaunch Roadmap valuable, and it is really a privilege and a pleasure to be having this conversation with you after your successful relaunch, using these and other resources and to think about where we are today. exciting to talk to you as a relauncher and also specifically about this really important topic. I wanted to start by talking about when you started the diversity lead role. You had started at iRelaunch in business development, and then you proposed your diversity lead role to us, and we knew you were onto something and we decided to literally follow your lead, and you became the diversity lead. So I wanna know if you can share with our audience what you were observing and what you were proposing to us.

Janet Peterson: Okay, sure. Well, a few things, so naturally I am a visionary, a strategist, a collaborator and an evangelist. And so all that means is just really in having the ability to spot trends and combine that with meeting unmet needs and,and connecting the dots, so, creating these partnerships. And so what I saw was that our low representation in our talent pool of women of color, and and I also saw that there was a huge opportunity to create awareness to these communities because I was a part of that community as well.

And, we did have a client of ours, a very valuable client, who expressed some concerns about the lack of diversity, or sourcing in our talent pool. And I say kudos to us for listening to the voice of the customer, and then literally putting this into action. So that was really how all of that started.

And so really my proposal was to identify and partner with these diverse communities, these organizations, and do outreach to the leadership and then also to the members within these organizations, so that part of their network, so that they would become aware of our mission at iRelaunch, what we're doing, and then also for them to join our relauncher talent pool community.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. Thank you for that introduction. It was really an amazing time that you stepped forward and had thought about that and, thought about a solution to the issue. So I wanna get into some of the details of what your strategy was, and I wanna know if you can please start by explaining the diversity pillars that you've identified that form the basis of the iRelaunch diversity strategy.

Janet Peterson: Yeah, sure. So here's where we're gonna talk about the secret sauce, okay, of how this works. So, what I did was I thought that it was important to establish categories of people that were seeking to relaunch their careers. So the first category would be moms groups.

So we talked about Mocha Moms, there's Jack and Jill, there are Menopausal Moms. So there are lots of moms groups that are out there. In addition to that, there are professional women's organizations. So for example, like the Coalition of 100 Black Women, where there is a emphasis and a focus on career and development, leadership development, but specifically with careers and economic empowerment, so, those professional organizations. Then there are military spouses, there are also ERG, so employee resource groups within organizations. They're a very valuable source of getting in touch with relaunchers. Then there are venues for women of color, for example, churches. There are also networking groups within churches as well.

And, there's literally a gathering spot, a venue here in Atlanta, and it's in multiple cities. So again, another place for people of color to come together, followed by HBCUs historical black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions. And finally the Divine Nine, which are these black sororities and fraternities.

And I looked at those segments, and it's really four, it sounded like a lot, but it's really four that I have, consolidated. And if you look at the intersectionality of that, you could be a member. And I'll take myself for example, I'm a member of Mocha Moms. I've led an ERG previously at Johnson & Johnson.

I attend a black church. I graduated from a HBCU, and I'm a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. So, those are those points of familiarity as well as excellent places to source for our relaunchers.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thanks, Janet. Now to get into more detail for one of these initiatives, 'cause we really want to focus on actual examples in this conversation and in this podcast is, can you tell us more about the Mocha Moms partnership?

Janet Peterson: Sure. So I have a smile on my face because I became a member of Mocha Moms as a result of a webinar that was hosted by iRelaunch and Mocha Moms. And, the whole focus of this conversation was relaunching from a black perspective. So, I was interviewing at the time and it was very intriguing and it was also very meaningful to me to know that we were having conversations about cultural differences with relaunchers. And so that night I did join Mocha Moms, which is a group of amazing mothers of children from all ages. And, mine of course, are grown, but it's just an amazing opportunity to really connect. And, Mocha Moms has really become such a valuable partner for us, in that they have identified groups of moms that are looking to come back to work.

So they have a a very strong network of being able to identify moms that are what I call relauncher ready. So if you're in a particular geographic area and, you are looking to return to work, we have partners, our clients are seeking relaunchers from this talent pool, from this network, from Mocha Moms, and it's really cool because then you are able to apply and interview for these roles because of this network and because of the strength of Mocha Moms. So I also want to share too that, part one was when I was interviewing, this conversation about re-launching from a black perspective. And then part two was so important to me because,

we needed to continue the conversation. So we had Relaunching from a Black Perspective, Part Two, but this time we included employers. Yes. And I think this was really important that we included black females that were in DE&I or in HR, and they were able to give the Mocha Moms and others that attended in the

audience, best practices on how to relaunch your career and just some tips and some things that, you know, you want to know before you start interviewing with the company. So I thought that was really great.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, that particular, conversation, Part One on Part Two, I think we're two of our most impactful programs and so unique, I don't think anyone else is doing this.

So it was meaningful to me, especially that it was inspiring to you when you were applying and it affected your perception of iRelaunch. And then once you were inside, you realized there was more work to do and that's when you propose your diversity lead role. So,it all comes together and it, and, thanks for walking us through that.

Can we now skip to another initiativewhere you actually go to a place in person, and set up a booth or have conversations. Maybe you can explain it a little bit more, but we're thinking of the example of the Jack and Jill Mother's Workday Conference. So maybe can you give us a quick explanation of Jack and Jill and then walk through exactly what happened that day and what the experience was like?

Janet Peterson: Sure. So let me just first start by saying that I was invited to be a sponsor at this conference as a result of a A.K.A. retreat that I spoke at, and I spoke about iRelaunch. So the person that introduced me, said, Hey, would you like to be a sponsor at our Jack and Jill Mother's Workday conference, because we're gonna have a lot of mothers there. And I said, oh, absolutely. And this is a, an organization that's high caliber, highly educated, women of color. They're, it's a combination of working moms and stay at home moms. And, the whole purpose is to really focus on the leadership development of African-American children.

So it was just an amazing opportunity for me to be there. And the preparation for this, was really something that I really enjoyed doing, and the first thing was branding. So you know, knowing who your audience is and then also making sure that iRelaunch is branded. So we had a table set up, iRelaunch tablecloth, knowing what Jack and Jill's colors are, pink and blue representing both male children and female children. It's also important too, that you have these goody bags and content inside the goody bags. So Carol, I'm gonna just share with you some of the things that I literally put in these bags. Sure. So iRelaunch notepads, iRelaunch ink pens, there's a brochure and I'm calling this out because representation matters. So these are women of color, and then we also have QR codes and just ways to explain how you can join our Job Board, our Return to Work Conference, and how you can get more information about relaunching your career.

Then there's another very valuable resource called Your Top 10 Tips to Relaunching Your Career, and then there's a QR code that I use in order for people to get easy access to it. And again, I just wanted to point out that, inside our Top 10 Tips just to make sure that, again, that you see representation of the audience that you are speaking to.

And because I knew that we were gonna have both moms who are looking to relaunch their careers and mothers that were working, because if we can also talk to moms that are working and are in HR, or have some sort of influence, and that's also another way that we can talk to them about creating a returnship program at their companies.

So there's another piece that shows both ways.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Spoken like a true marketing professional. That was amazing what you put together and did for that event, Janet. Janet, can you talk a little bit about what kind of partnerships and work we're doing with Alpha Kappa Alpha?

Janet Peterson: Oh, absolutely. So I'm so excited about what we've done in the past and Carol, and I thank you for taking this journey with me.

I knew that this was a very significant organization. I'm a member of the organization. We have over 350,000 members, and again, very highly educated women, and a pool for Relaunchers. There's always an opportunity for people to relaunch their careers. So we had an opportunity to be a sponsor at one of our Boule conferences and our leadership conference, and this gave us an opportunity to,

the first time we did it, it was all virtual. So, we set up a booth and we had lots of information about relaunching and job opportunities that we had in joining our talent pool. So it was very effective. We had lots of people that joined our talent pool as a result of that, and we were featured in our Ivy League Magazine, a full one page ad about our return to work conference, and how to join our Job Board. So highly effective. Then the next year where it was in person, believe it or not, I had covid.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I remember that after all that planning.

Janet Peterson: All the planning, all the work went into it and I wasn't able to attend, but our daughter, who's also a member of AKA really went and stood on my behalf.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And so she networked and she was amazing.

Janet Peterson: Yeah, she did, she shared these informations. She was awesome. Absolutely awesome. But in organizations like that, and also I mentioned Jack and Jill previously, so I've had some opportunities to do some individual webinars for different chapters and to talk about iRelaunch and what it looks like to relaunch your career and how to do it.

And again, just creating awareness within these large organizations where there are going to be relaunchers there.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Right. Well, Thank you. I have to say Alpha Kappa, Alpha, the more I've learned about it through you Janet, I'm just blown away by how there are women in that organization that are at the top levels of corporate America and government, and,it's an amazing organization. Yeah. So, Janet, we have to wrap up soon and I have two questions left that I want to ask you before we close, and one of them is, we just had a relaunch success story that, or originated at Mocha Moms, and I wanted to know if you can tell our audience a little bit about it.

Janet Peterson: Sure. So we did, we just recently had a Mocha relauncher, Mocha Mom relauncher that posted in our Facebook group that she relaunched her career. And she was just very excited about the fact that she relaunched her career after being at home for 17 years. And she was able to relaunch into the healthcare sector based on the tools and resources that she got from us at iRelaunch and also by attending the Mocha moms events.

So we're just really excited about hearing stories like that and others to come.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Awesome. So Janet, I wanna wrap up now by asking you the question that we ask all of our podcast guests, and that is, what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience, even if it's something that we've already talked about today?

Janet Peterson: Oh gosh, sure. Well, I'm just talking to myself, because again, I sat in that chair as well. So, and the biggest thing, Carol, I would say is just don't quit, like, don't give up on yourself. Right? So just continue to be persistent at it and know that there is a plan and a purpose for your life and a plan and a purpose for your career.

I think it's also important too, that you're very specific in knowing what your skills are your gifts, your talents are, and then you are able to apply those, you know, directly to your career. I also obviously, am a big, believer of networking and leveraging your networks by your organizations that you're a part of, and letting people know that you are relaunching your career.

I remember before the Roadmap, and this isn't a plug, this is just the truth, but before the Roadmap, I hated talking about, you know, Oh Janet, what are you doing? And I didn't have much to say, but when I started working on this, then I thought, okay, yes, well I'm working on relaunching my career and this is what I'm doing.

And so, you know, I developed a short elevator pitch to talk about that about. And again, I leverage that and leveraging LinkedIn and branding yourself. Yeah. Yeah. Those are the best pieces of advice.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. Excellent advice, a number of pieces of advice that were wrapped into that, and, really, you could say, you could tell spoken like a true relauncher. I am also a relauncher and, I concur with all of those pieces of advice. Janet, thank you so much for joining us today.

Janet Peterson: Thank you for having me, Carol.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and Co-founder of iRelaunch and your host.

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