“There were a lot of times I felt like I was the only person in the room.”
When Cameka Jackman joined Clorox in 2005, this was her experience not knowing many people – especially other black employees.
So she joined what was then called the African American ERG.
14 years later, she recently led a full rebrand of the ERG to BELIEVE: Black Employees Leading in Inclusion, Excellence, Vision and Education.
This is Cameka’s story of how relationships, leadership and personal growth through BELIEVE have shaped the leader she is today.
How did you get started with the ERG?
When I started as an IT contractor in December 2005, there were a lot of times I felt like I was the only person in the room. I didn’t know many people here at Clorox besides a friend who had referred me, so I wanted to build those relationships and find like-minded people with shared experiences. At the time, we didn’t have a lot of collaboration across functions, so I was excited to find a place for black employees to come together.
How has BELIEVE created opportunities for professional growth?
I formed a lot of important connections with people I wouldn’t have otherwise. In fact, it was a black woman in the ERG who offered me the opportunity to move to sales where I worked for 11 years. I went to her to learn more information about a role and she happened to be the hiring manager. Through the ERG I was able to build the relationship and have the confidence to even approach that conversation.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself as part of the ERG?
I have a lot more influence and there’s a lot more respect for my voice than I ever knew. With the new IGNITE Strategy and reimagining how we work, leaders are expecting us to be a lot bolder with our ideas for what we want to do and how want to make Clorox a place where black people want to work. I never thought I had the kind of influence to help rebrand an entire ERG and make an impact that will be with the company years from now.
How did the rebrand come about?
We were updating the logo for ABLE – African Americans Building Leadership Excellence – which was the previous name of the ERG, and decided we should do a full rebrand because “African American” isn’t inclusive of all black employees at Clorox who are from countries around the world. When we approached leadership, they empowered us to put a team together and see what it would take to make it happen. So we reached out to folks around the company and in 10 months we rebranded to BELIEVE.
What leadership skills did you develop in that process?
I put on a project manager hat and saw the project through from ideation all the way to execution. I already had some experience with rebranding from my time on the sales team, but I had to stretch myself presenting to leadership, asking for budget and providing partners with honest feedback about their work. I had never been in the position where I had to push back and have honest conversations when things weren’t working. Having that level ownership from leaders was really empowering.
What do you enjoy most about being part of BELIEVE?
Through BELIEVE, I’ve created real relationships because you can let your guard down and really get to know people. Together, we’re re-engaging employees across the company who are excited and energized to get behind what we’re doing to promote inclusion and diversity.
What parting advice do you have for others who experience that feeling of being the only person in the room?
If you start by recognizing the ways in which you are similar to your coworkers, you can create a foundation of understanding and acceptance that will make it easier for you to share your needs or differences in opinion. Also, be proactive and make a conscious effort to find allies you can trust, confide in and connect with on a personal level. Having mentors and a strong support system is so important in navigating your career.