There are many different tactics for how to be successful in life, but the strategy that works best for you may depend on your view of success itself. There is no single right way to be successful. What works for you might not work for someone else. Erika Broadwater, National President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Ressources states that her definition of success is the result of those who have led are now leading others. She has always felt that there are good leaders, great leaders, and successful leaders. “A good leader is one you want to work for; a great leader is one you want to follow; a successful leader has been pushed beyond their own limits,” she says.
Taking a step of faith in the competitive industry of talent acquisition
Erika’s journey began almost 30 years ago as a talent liaison – in those days there was no internet or online job posting, recruiting strategies, or applicant tracking systems. There were job ads in newspapers and magazines, where candidates would walk into your office and complete a (paper)employment application. Since then, she has evolved to AI doing most of the legwork for them and their work has become more complex.
“I simply love working with people; it’s just that simple,” she says. She believes that Talent Acquisition is one of the best sides of Human Resources because she gets to meet people from all backgrounds, all around the world, and learn multiple skills just by interviewing candidates and intake calls with line managers. “Think about it; in TA, we have to know every unique job profile, business purposes and goals, industry talent trends, salary indexes, developing recruiting strategies, analyzing talent data, and being company ambassadors – all while selling careers to candidates and candidates to hiring managers. We wear so many hats in TA, whereas other sides of HR are very specialized (like Compensation & Benefits, Payroll, and Employee Relations). We work hard and we have fun, and best of all, we don’t ever have to terminate an employee,” explains Erika.
Challenges are the roadblocks to success.
Without making any assumptions about how she is seen by others with the obvious fact that she is a single Black woman in a white-dominated field of work – Erika has had many stereotypical challenges to overcome. Most recently, and this is not the first time, she has felt the sting of discrimination. The way she overcomes her challenges, in any form, is by being a woman of Faith. “I put my God before everything I do, and Christ in front of every day,” she states. Being grounded in her faith has allowed her to focus on the important things in her life and her career – that’s how Erika stepped into her professional journey, and that’s where she has remained.
National Association of African Americans in Human Ressources.
Erika strongly believes that NAAAHR is part of her life – they are a family. To make it clear, her professional career is the Head of North America Talent Acquisition for a global health and hygiene company. Her other career life is (currently) the National President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources. They are a not-for-profit organization, and all of their roles (at the Chapter level and National level) are volunteerism.
She began as the first Delaware State Chapter President in 2011. For six consecutive years, she led the Chapter with tremendous success and growth year over year. She was then promoted to the National Board of Directors as the SVP of Membership and remained in that role for a year. Then in 2019, Erika was prompted again and appointed the National President.
Artificial Intelligence has taken Talent Acquisition to a whole other level. “As I have built-in TA Best Practices in all of my strategies (DEBI, Recruitment and Retention, Executive Consulting, etc.) AI has been a focal point. I don’t claim to be the only TA leader with AI redirecting the way our teams work, but I have made a point of ensuring AI is not taking over the work of my teams and my practices,” she says. As intelligent as technology is, she has been building up her teams to be more intelligent by ways of being Talent Advisors and industry specialists. Talent Acquisition can be generalized in that they support all lines of business and functional areas. But a Talent Advisor combines Talent Acquisition and Artificial Intelligence to be more strategic and more specialized. That’s the secret sauce.
Redefining the industry with innovative ideas
Before there was a “Black Lives Matter” and “Me Too Movement”, Erika became heavily involved in Affirmative Action, Equal Employment, and Diversity & Inclusion. In the early stages, she found that there was so much more that needed to be done and addressed; therefore, she built a model that is now called “DEBI” – Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion. “I began this work over 12 years ago and have met with Company Presidents, Executives, and Global Leaders, to educate, strategize and implement DEBI into the DNA of their companies. It allows companies to incorporate better cultural values beyond a D&I statement, improve retentions and employée engagement, and truly be or become a “great place to work”, have accountability by all (not just senior leaders), and drive stakeholder engagement; just to name a few,” explains Erika.
Within the structure of DEBI comes five (5) “A’s” – Awareness, Acceptance, Acknowledgement, Accountability, and Action. The 5-A structure allows companies to be more intentional about the changes needed internally, improve external partner relationships, and community advocacy, and increase employee performance with deliberate calls to action. It also fosters better collaboration and communication – which are usually the leading “négatives” on Pulse or Employee Surveys.
The best recognition received as a leader.
Erika was mentored by a Black female business owner who started a Recruiting Agency and Executive Consulting Firm out of Texas. She needed a representative in Delaware, and she was introduced to her by a mutual friend. She taught her everything she needed to know about recruiting, talent acquisition, leadership, business partnership, and management. Again, that was almost 30 years ago, and Erika constantly pays homage to her for what she invested in her as a young professional.
Throughout her career, she has obtained nine (9) certifications, and seven (7) HR awards, listed in the 2010 Global Directory of Who’s Who in Human Resources publication named the DE&I Champion at three (3) companies she works (ed) for, listed in the 2021 HR Tech Top 100 Influencers, and several more. “But honestly, the recognition as a leader that means the most to me is the title my children have given me “Momager”. As they are both now young adults and moving quickly through their careers, they watched my journey from a distance and have always respected the work I do; to the point where they have been right by my side at conferences and events, being introduced to industry leaders who look just like them and understand there are no goals out of their reach. Momager is the best recognition I could ever receive as their leader,” she says.
Responsibilities as the National President of NAAAHR
Being the National Président is quite a heavyweight; one that Erika says she may have even taken for granted while she was the Delaware State Chapter President. She has to always think of “strategy” in every decision she makes or task she completes. She has to be a leader by influence and not by dictatorship. Erika is responsible for building, cultivating, and mastering the art of partnership management. She is also responsible for 35 US Chapters (including USVI and Hawaii, expanding the organization globally (UK, Africa, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica over the next 3 years, then parts of Europe thereafter).
“I am requested on as an HR and DE&I Consultant, and a Keynote and Conference Speaker,” she says. Erika is a member of the Office of the Chairman and leads the Executive Board of Directors. And along with the Chairman, she is the face and spokesperson for the organization on a National and Global level.
Maintaining a work-life balance
Erika states that her time is always split between her family, career, and her organization. Her family always comes first and with their support, she claims that this is an easy priority. Her professional career as the Head of North America Talent Acquisition comes second. Then is her role with NAAAHR, her passion. She states that the work that she does in her professional career and passionate career both keep her motivated – because she enjoys what she does.
“I simply love working with people. Talent Acquisition, DEBI, and all therein give me energy, purpose, drive, and vision. I always like to see bigger and better ways of doing things – hereto in my personal life with my family, my professional career, and my passion,” she exclaims. Her personal goal is to spend the next ten years leaving a legacy in this industry and her Professional career so that her children’s children will have better career opportunities and choices than what she had 30 years ago.
Her message for aspiring business leaders is to think beyond your tomorrow – think about the work you’re doing today and what it will look like years from now. Are you making an impact, are you driving sustainable change, and are you leaving a legacy? “I used to teach on leaving a legacy, using persons in the Bible as examples. What will be said about you 2000 years from now!” states Erika.