Grassroots Initiative Results in Successful Women-Focused Event

Picking a flower for a boquet

Skift Take

When planning events, a company’s most valuable asset — its employees — can spearhead some of the best ideas. That was on full display at a recent gender equality event hosted by Rokt.

Evoking emotion is crucial to attendee engagement, and there is no better way to do this than by finding a cause fueled by passion. Gender equality is a hot-button topic at Rokt, an e-commerce technology company that uses machine learning to make transactions more relevant. An internal employee group was created, Womxn Who Rokt, focused on improving gender equality within the company and in the external communities it participates. It started about five years ago as an employee chat group. 

“It quickly gained traction and turned into something much larger where we would hold meetings and internal discussions with participation across the business. As more people wanted to take part, more ideas came through around panels, events, and ways we could make an impact on our broader community. Now we have extended what we do and invite friends, clients, and other women and gender diversity partners to join us in our mission,” said Ashley Firmstone, senior vice president of customer success at Rokt. 

Thirty-three guests from companies including Curb, Ralph Lauren, Thrive Market, Clear, and Disney, 100 Rokt employees, and many of their dogs gathered in its office on its tiered stadium seating for the event that inspired, educated, and celebrated Women’s History Month.

“At Rokt, whether prompted by employees or more formally organized, our events invoke passion. Our culture is very transparent and open, so even in our more formal events and discussions, energy, belonging, and vulnerability naturally come through. People at Rokt thoroughly enjoy coming together for anything and love to support, especially if an event does have greater meaning, like the ones we plan around our diversity groups. Force for good is one of our core values every Rokt employee embodies.” 

Full transparency is one way Rokt ensures equality. For example, all salaries are published to ensure that two people doing the same job in the same location are paid the same. 

Only Way to Rise is to Rise Together

Panelists were all Rokt customers and included Natasha Scholnick, Senior Manager, Global Affiliate Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Vista; Cristina Olivares,VP of Business Development, Live Nation; Ann Marie Ippoliti, VP of Digital Commerce, Michael Kors; Jennifer Huang, Head of Partnerships, The moderator was Ash Grewal, Global Partnerships, Rokt.

“A key takeaway from the panel was that being an advocate not just for yourself but for others is so important. The only way to rise is if we all rise together,” said Firmstone.

The focus on women continued at a reception following the panel discussion featuring women-owned and operated small businesses. Drinks were created by the mixologists from Muddling Memories. Camille Parson, a ballerina turned hospitality professional, is the managing partner of Muddling Memories and former managing director of a private members club in New York City. The caterer was Campbell & Co., a sister-run grocery, cheese shop, café, and caterer in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.                                                                                              

During the reception, attendees were able to make floral bouquets by selecting from beautiful and fragrant varietals that Dearest Rachel, a boutique floral design business, brought in.

This is just one of the many gender-equality events the company holds annually. There are also book clubs, panels, and small discussion groups where colleagues are encouraged to share their personal stories.

Company-wide, Rokt holds an annual global kickoff worldwide in places like Oahu, Hawaii and Whistler, Canada. End of Quarter events includes updates from leaders as well as team-building activities. Its Rokt’ahon is a company-wide 24-hour hackathon where Rokt employees are encouraged to think outside the box to develop innovative ideas.