International Women’s Day – Yanique Smith advocates for inclusion and well-being
This year, for International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some of the amazing women who are turning possibilities into realities. Yanique Smith, Director of Well-being and Accessibility at Rogers is one of these women.
We sat down with Yanique to learn more about her, and she shared her passion to promote well-being and inclusion, and her journey to be her best self at work and in life.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
IWD’s a chance to celebrate all the unnoticed work women do and the amazing contributions women have made over the years. It’s a chance to thank women and to bring stories to the forefront that we don’t often hear about. It’s about emboldening young girls to believe in the possibilities that are open to them.
Tell us about your role at Rogers.
I lead the Well-being & Accessibility team as part of the Safety & Well-being department. We’re focused on ensuring employees have the tools and resources to be at their best – physically and mentally, and improving accessibility. The work done collectively by the team throughout the pandemic ensured employees and leaders could focus on self-care, learn how to support each other in the workplace and be there for our customers. I love my career because it acknowledges the opportunity employers have to positively impact the personal life and the work experience of employees.
Can you share any details around how Rogers has supported you, this last year or over the course of your career?
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to grow my career while raising my kids in a way that is important to my husband and I. I want to be present as a mom, and I want to be a strong contributor at work – and I don’t want to have to choose one or the other. At Rogers I have open and supportive leaders who trust me to manage and prioritize my work, giving me the flexibility so I am there for my family. They mentor and empower me to be the best in my current role while preparing for what’s next. My family’s needs have changed over the years, my role has grown, and through it all Rogers has created a space and given me tools so I can work on being the best mom and partner for my family while also having a career that is meaningful to me.
Who has been an inspiration in your life, and why?
My dad is an inspiration to me. He passed away six years ago and I reflect on the lessons he taught me – and I realize how much he guides me as a mother and as a People Leader at work. My dad had three girls and he made it cool to be smart and to push our limits mentally and physically. He made it natural to challenge the boys in any spaces, to use our voices and he encouraged us not to back down. My dad was an amazing people leader. He was fiercely committed to developing his team because he believed in them. I hope to make the same impact on my team. He was also committed to his physical fitness. He was a big gym buff with great muscles even in his 60s. Every time I push myself hard and hit a new milestone in a workout, I wish I could let him know what I accomplished.
What would you say to young girls of today?
I think of my daughter and my nieces and what I want them, and every other girl to know… You are more than enough. You are stronger than you realize, and one of the most powerful things you can do in this world is be your full, authentic self. But you never have to do this alone, because you are surrounded by a community who loves you – so embrace them. Invest in, build and acknowledge this community you build at work, and in your personal life because it is filled with people who want to see you shine.
Tell us a little more about yourself, and any personal interests or details you’d like to share.
I have three kids – Mannix is 15, Aneila-Rayne is 12 and Quentin is 10. It’s been tough managing their different personalities and reactions to the pandemic. We’re always working on age appropriate conversations about the pandemic, and in 2020, we also had to have different conversations about race than we had before. Oh yeah – and make sure they were getting an education, adjusted to the change in their activities and feeling secure overall. They’ve seen me really double down on the behaviours to invest in my well-being, like working out, or practicing mindfulness, reading and sometimes just being willing to slow down and rest.
They have been extremely curious about my work, and even offered coaching to me on how I can improve. We talk about what’s hard now, under lockdowns, and we talk about what we’re grateful for and what we’re looking forward to. We’re spending a lot more time together, but we are enjoying that. There are so many points of the day when I realize my heart is swelling with love and appreciation for my family, and I know before COVID we were probably moving too fast to enjoy more of those moments. In terms of what I have been doing to keep things together – I have been focused on core habits – physical activity, rest and being okay that there may be moments where I don’t feel great. I have noticed these habits help me from feeling too low on some days, and can help me feel very energized.
I am the Co-Chair of Rogers Women of Colour (RWOC), I sit on the Black Leadership Council (BLC) and I participate in Rogers AccessAbility Network (RAAN). One of the best investments I made in 2020 was in building relationships with amazing women at work and outside of work. I have partnered with different teams and connected personally in new circles in ways I did not expect. I have learned so much from these women who have shared, reached out, supported and encouraged me to find my voice in new spaces. Their energy and guidance truly helped me turn possibilities into realities.