Introducing NextRoll’s New DEI Director

Innovation and inclusion have always been priorities at NextRoll. Our goal is not only to set an example for the tech industry as a whole but also to set the bar high for integrating and applying DEI programs in the workplace. 

In the last several years, NextRoll’s DEI leadership and programming have taken different forms and shared responsibility across the business. At this stage of our company’s growth and evolution, we need dedicated DEI practitioners with deep roots and experience – personal and professional – in diversity, equity, and inclusion to take the baton and lead these efforts as we enter the next phase of growth and transformation as a company. 

We’re excited to introduce Ngozi Okeh, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, who joined NextRoll in 2021.

“There has been a great DEI foundation laid out for [me], and a lot of thought has already gone into reporting on data, delivering training, and supporting Employee Resource Groups,” said Ngozi. “My goal is to level all those things up.”

Personal Passions for DEI 

Ngozi has personal connections and motivations for wanting to move the needle on DEI in the workplace, which influenced her DEI career.

Ngozi and her family immigrated to the US from Nigeria when she was just four years old.

“My father’s first job was at a restaurant. When he worked there, he trained people for the same role he had there,” she said. “Many of them were not Black and were paid immediately more than him. My dad, the most hard-working man I know, shared many other stories of his challenges and resilience as a Black man and immigrant in the United States. That’s when I started understanding the dynamics in this country around race.”

“At a young age, I developed an awareness and a desire to understand the inequities we see in society and yearned to address the challenges faced by underrepresented people,” she added. “I understand what it’s like to be marginalized. That level of empathy was instilled in me at a young age, and as a result, I was always drawn to community work.”

Advocating for DEI in the Workplace

These personal experiences are what initially prompted Ngozi to become an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the workplace and ultimately led to her dedicated DEI role at NextRoll. 

When Ngozi began working in DEI, she didn’t always have “diversity” in her title. Her exposure to diversity and inclusion work started first in politics, then in the nonprofit sector with the NAACP, and finally within the corporate world. 

“A lot of what I did was around community advocacy. I worked with women-owned and minority-owned businesses – and with organizations that empowered those businesses – to understand the systemic challenges they faced,” she said. “Being in a position to advocate on their behalf gave me a sweet, beautiful taste of the work I love, which is understanding the challenges of marginalized groups and working on systemic solutions.” 

Progressing DEI at NextRoll

Diversity, equity, and inclusion programs have deep roots at NextRoll, as our People team created a solid base for Ngozi to build upon in the years ahead. 

One of these early initiatives was setting focus areas and creating key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and determine diversity in hiring, promoting, and retaining talent at NextRoll. Since our People team has historically collected this data, Ngozi will use it to ensure NextRoll is progressing and leveling up.

Having dedicated DEI practitioners also means we have expanded bandwidth and expertise to host regular trainings around unconscious bias and microaggressions, and to support external-facing DEI projects like our Minority-Owned Business Badges program for customers. 

“We’ll be working closely with leaders to see how each individual and team can impact DEI goals,” said Ngozi. 

In addition, since NextRoll has eight established Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Ngozi will continue to assist the ERG leaders with events, membership, and more. 

“We’re supporting and empowering their work to create a culture of inclusion and space for Rollers to call home and where allies can learn and grow,” said Ngozi.

What’s next? A lot! Soon Rollers are receiving and completing an internal survey, as we’ve done for seven years, to provide feedback and insight on current DEI goals and areas for improvement or expansion. 

Want to learn more about NextRoll’s commitment to diversity? Learn more on our Culture page.