Erika Broadwater: Forging a Path of Leadership

Success is a journey, not a destination. And on this winding road, there are as many strategies for success as there are definitions of it. Erika Broadwater, the National President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, has not only found her strategy for success but has made it her mission to redefine what it means to be a successful leader.

Erika’s view of success is rooted in the powerful notion that true leaders are those who pave the way for others. In her eyes, leadership is a spectrum, and she distinguishes it into three tiers: good leaders, great leaders, and successful leaders.

For Erika, a good leader is someone you want to work for. Their leadership inspires loyalty and trust, creating an environment where people feel valued, motivated, and part of something bigger than themselves.

A step above, a great leader is someone you want to follow. Their vision and charisma draw others in, and their actions set an example that others aspire to emulate. Great leaders ignite a sense of purpose and passion that drives their teams to new heights.

But Erika’s ultimate definition of a successful leader is where her insights truly shine. According to her, a successful leader is someone who has pushed themselves beyond their own limits. They’ve ventured into uncharted territory, surmounting challenges and adversities. Their success isn’t just personal; it’s a testament to their resilience, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to growth.

Erika’s own journey mirrors this philosophy. She’s not just a leader; she’s a trailblazer. Her role as the National President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources is a testament to her dedication to leadership and her passion for fostering diversity and inclusion within the workforce.

In a world where success can often be narrowly defined, Erika stands out as a beacon of hope and possibility. Her definition of success transcends traditional boundaries and serves as an inspiration for those who dare to dream big and push their own limits. She reminds us that success isn’t confined to one path or one destination. Instead, it’s a multifaceted journey, and each step forward is a testament to our growth and potential as leaders.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Remarkable Journey in Talent Acquisition

Erika’s professional journey began nearly three decades ago when the landscape of talent acquisition looked vastly different. In those days, the internet and online job postings were non-existent, recruiting strategies were rudimentary, and applicant tracking systems were unheard of. Job advertisements were placed in newspapers and magazines, and candidates would physically walk into offices to complete paper employment applications. Since that time, Erika has witnessed a remarkable evolution in the field, with technology and AI now playing a pivotal role in streamlining processes.

What has remained constant throughout her journey is Erika’s unwavering passion for working with people. For her, talent acquisition is a profoundly rewarding facet of Human Resources because it allows her to engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds across the globe. She gains a multitude of skills simply by conducting candidate interviews and collaborating with line managers.

In Erika’s view, talent acquisition encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities, making it one of the most dynamic and multifaceted aspects of HR. Talent acquisition professionals must familiarize themselves with unique job profiles, understand business objectives and goals, stay attuned to industry talent trends, analyze talent data, and serve as company ambassadors. All the while, they are tasked with effectively marketing careers to candidates and presenting candidates to hiring managers.

Erika emphasizes that talent acquisition professionals wear many hats, in contrast to other specialized HR roles such as Compensation & Benefits, Payroll, and Employee Relations. Despite the challenges, those in talent acquisition work diligently while finding joy in their roles. One notable aspect is that they never have to be involved in employee terminations, a unique distinction that sets their work apart.

Erika’s journey exemplifies the resilience and adaptability required in the ever-evolving field of talent acquisition. Her dedication to connecting with individuals and her enthusiasm for the multifaceted nature of the role have been central to her success in this dynamic profession.

Resilience and Faith in Overcoming Challenges

Erika has navigated her professional journey in a field that is predominantly white, and as a single Black woman, she has encountered various stereotypical challenges along the way. While it’s essential not to make assumptions about how others perceive her, it’s clear that she has faced discrimination at different points in her career.

In the face of these challenges, Erika draws strength from her unwavering faith. She places her faith in God at the forefront of everything she does, with a deep commitment to her Christian beliefs. This spiritual grounding has allowed her to maintain focus on what truly matters in both her personal life and her career.

Erika’s faith serves as a source of resilience and inner strength, enabling her to overcome obstacles, discrimination, and adversity. By anchoring herself in her faith, she has not only embarked on her professional journey but also remained steadfast and resolute in the face of challenges. Erika’s story is a testament to the power of faith in sustaining and guiding individuals through their personal and professional lives.

Dedication to NAAAHR and the Power of Talent Advisors

Erika’s commitment to the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) runs deep, as she views the organization as an integral part of her life—a second family. While her professional career is centered around her role as the Head of North America Talent Acquisition for a global health and hygiene company, her volunteer work with NAAAHR holds equal significance.

In 2011, Erika embarked on her journey with NAAAHR by becoming the first President of the Delaware State Chapter. Over the course of six years, she led the chapter to remarkable success and consistent growth. Her dedication and leadership skills did not go unnoticed, and she was subsequently promoted to the National Board of Directors, serving as the Senior Vice President of Membership for a year.

In 2019, Erika reached another milestone in her involvement with NAAAHR as she was appointed to the prestigious role of National President. Her passion for advancing the organization’s mission and her commitment to supporting African Americans in the field of human resources have driven her to excel in this leadership role.

Erika recognizes the transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the field of Talent Acquisition. She has integrated AI into her strategies, incorporating best practices such as DEBI, Recruitment and Retention, and Executive Consulting. However, Erika’s approach to AI is distinctive. She ensures that AI enhances her teams’ capabilities without taking over their work entirely. Her emphasis lies in empowering her teams to become Talent Advisors and industry specialists. These Talent Advisors combine the strengths of Talent Acquisition with AI to operate more strategically and specialize in their roles—a unique and effective approach to harnessing the power of technology while retaining the human touch. This, in her view, is the “secret sauce” that propels her teams forward in the ever-evolving landscape of Talent Acquisition.

Pioneering Work in Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion 

Long before the rise of movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “Me Too,” Erika was deeply immersed in the fields of Affirmative Action, Equal Employment, and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). Recognizing the pressing need for change and progress, she embarked on a mission to address these critical issues comprehensively. In doing so, she developed a model now known as “DEBI”—an acronym representing Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion.

Erika’s journey into this work began over 12 years ago, and she has since engaged with Company Presidents, Executives, and Global Leaders to educate, strategize, and implement DEBI principles within their organizations. DEBI serves as a framework that allows companies to go beyond mere D&I statements and infuse their corporate culture with values that promote diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion. The benefits of adopting DEBI principles are far-reaching and include enhanced employee retention, increased employee engagement, the creation of a genuinely positive work environment, accountability at all levels of the organization (not just senior leaders), and strengthened stakeholder engagement.

Within the DEBI framework, Erika has outlined five core principles, often referred to as the “5-A’s”: Awareness, Acceptance, Acknowledgment, Accountability, and Action. This structured approach empowers companies to be intentional in driving internal changes, fostering better relationships with external partners and communities, and improving employee performance through deliberate calls to action. It also promotes improved collaboration and communication within organizations—addressing key areas of concern often identified in employee surveys and feedback.

Erika’s pioneering work in DEBI reflects her commitment to effecting positive change within organizations and communities. Her model provides a comprehensive and actionable roadmap for organizations to embrace diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion as fundamental pillars of their corporate culture.

Influential Mentoring and Remarkable Achievements

Erika’s remarkable journey in the field of Talent Acquisition and Human Resources has been significantly shaped by the mentorship of a Black female business owner who ran a Recruiting Agency and Executive Consulting Firm in Texas. Approximately three decades ago, Erika was introduced to this mentor through a mutual friend when the business owner sought representation in Delaware. Under her guidance, Erika acquired invaluable knowledge and skills in recruiting, talent acquisition, leadership, business partnerships, and management. Erika acknowledges and pays tribute to her mentor for the profound impact she had on her development as a young professional.

Over the course of her career, Erika has achieved a remarkable list of accomplishments. She holds nine certifications and has received seven HR awards. Notably, she was recognized as the DE&I Champion at three different companies she has worked for. Her influence extends further, as she was listed in the 2010 Global Directory of Who’s Who in Human Resources and acknowledged in the 2021 HR Tech Top 100 Influencers.

However, among all these accolades and honors, Erika treasures a particular title above all else—the one given to her by her children: “Momager.” As her children have transitioned into young adulthood and embarked on their own career journeys, they have watched Erika’s professional growth from a distance. They have accompanied her to conferences and events, where they had the opportunity to meet industry leaders who resemble them and understand that there are no limits to what they can achieve. Being recognized as “Momager” is a testament to Erika’s influential leadership in both her professional career and her role as a guiding force and inspiration for her children. It stands as the most meaningful recognition she could ever receive.

Role as National President and Its Responsibilities

Erika’s role as the National President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) carries significant weight and responsibilities. It demands a strategic mindset in every decision and task she undertakes. As a leader in this position, she understands the importance of influence and collaboration over authoritarian control.

Her responsibilities as National President encompass various critical aspects:

  • Partnership Management: Erika is tasked with building, cultivating, and mastering the art of partnership management. This involves establishing and nurturing relationships with key partners and stakeholders.


  • Chapter Oversight: Erika oversees 35 US Chapters, which includes locations such as the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii. She plays a crucial role in supporting and guiding these chapters.


  • Global Expansion: She is actively involved in expanding the organization’s reach globally, with plans to include the UK, Africa, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica within the next three years, followed by expansion into parts of Europe.


  • Consulting and Speaking Engagements: Erika is sought after as an HR and DE&I (Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion) Consultant and serves as a keynote and conference speaker.


  • Executive Leadership: She leads the Executive Board of Directors, working alongside the Chairman. Together, they represent the organization on a national and global level, serving as its face and spokesperson.

In her role as National President, Erika not only provides leadership and direction to the organization but also serves as a bridge between NAAAHR and its partners, members, and the broader community. Her strategic thinking and influence are vital in driving the organization’s mission and impact in the field of Human Resources and DE&I.

Priorities and Message for Aspiring Business Leaders

Erika maintains a clear set of priorities in her life, which she believes contribute to her success and fulfillment. Her priorities are as follows:

  • Family First: Erika places her family as her top priority. With their unwavering support, she finds it easy to keep her family at the forefront of her life.


  • Professional Career: Her career as the Head of North America Talent Acquisition comes second in her priorities. She is dedicated to her work and finds motivation in it.


  • Passion for NAAAHR* Erika’s work with the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) is her passion and a significant part of her life. It fuels her with energy, purpose, drive, and vision.

Erika emphasizes her love for working with people and how Talent Acquisition, DEBI (Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion), and related areas provide her with a sense of purpose and motivation. She is constantly striving for better and more impactful ways of doing things in both her personal and professional life.

Her personal goal is to leave a lasting legacy in her industry and professional career over the next ten years. She envisions a future where her efforts today will create better career opportunities and choices for her descendants, improving upon the opportunities she had 30 years ago.

For aspiring business leaders, Erika’s message is to think beyond the immediate future. She encourages them to consider the long-lasting impact of their work, whether it drives sustainable change and leaves a legacy. Drawing inspiration from her teaching experiences, she asks them to ponder what will be said about them 2000 years from now. This perspective encourages forward-thinking, innovation, and a commitment to making a meaningful impact in the world.