Simone D. Ross recently took over as the Interim CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and has honestly… been CRUSHING it. Even though we’ve known her for years, we asked her what fuels her passion, drive, and journey. Learn more about that movement and the communities she’s built along the way.
The Why: why do you do what you do? Why are you passionate about your work and/or community contributions?
I’m passionate about women, wildly passionate about women in work, and fiercely passionate about BIPOC women in work. Systemic change requires the mobilization of everyone at every level. I’ve developed a framework for operationalizing inclusivity. This framework includes organizational audits of policies and procedures, hiring practices, performance management, ladders to promotion, pay equity studies, recruiting, and overall leadership assessment. We have a long way to go to build equitable workplaces; where we’re all safe to contribute, grow, and thrive. I support organizations in charting a clear operational path to achieving workforce equity.
What is one of the biggest challenges that you have overcome, and how did you overcome it?
I was challenged to radically self reinvent a few years ago. My marriage ended, I lost my home, and my job was eliminated. This was the hardest time in my life, there was so much happening at once. I made the choice to live; I sought a deeper and stronger spiritual connection; and I choose to do work that I love and make a difference in the areas I’m most passionate about.
What is your personal motto or favorite quotation?
My inspirational quotes are seasonal, and I believe it’s a pivotal season for women to receive the elevated roles, recognition, and seats at the table we’ve long deserved. For this season I’ve got to go with the rapper, Nas, in his song “If I Ruled the World” he said, “Watch the blimp read, ‘The World Is Mine.”
Advice for others in business based on what you have learned on your journey?
Be yourself, every aspect of your identity brings great value to business, the community, and the work you do. Sometimes there’s so much pressure to hide aspects of yourself. The things you want to hide are the things that bring the most value. When you feel like being invisible, those are the moments to challenge yourself to show up as your whole self.
What are you most proud of from the last year?
Due to COVID-19, The Riveter closed. Shutting down an emerging community containing some of the most brilliant creators was devastating. Additionally, the murder of George Floyd ignited global recognition of racial injustice and disparity. With the convergence of these historical events, I had to re-evaluate my impact.
I doubled down and re-imagined my consultancy to better support businesses as they found themselves in need of emergent sustainability strategies. As a result, I leaned into my superpower of “operationalizing anything.” I’ve implemented operational strategies that have saved my clients over $500K in operating expenses.
Systemic change requires the mobilization of everyone at every level. Companies can affect change by doing the work of becoming anti-oppressive. I’ve developed a framework for operationalizing inclusivity. I guide leaders in taking personal accountability for implementing anti-oppressive leadership strategies. My executive curriculum supports leaders in gaining a toolkit to tackle personal values, identify bias, and specifically name where supremacy culture lives in the organization.
Our economic and social recovery starts with healing. I built a healing #TRIBE 600 strong and growing. Within this #TRIBE I’ve provided leaders with access to business executives and mentors nationwide. I host monthly workshops (Beyond the Bio) and am building a database of BIPOC womxen to funnel to businesses seeking intersectional leaders to fill job openings.