Rocket Companies vows accountability as it shares diversity, inclusion plan

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Rocket Companies Inc.'s six-point diversity and inclusion plan, detailed Monday, commits it to hiring and developing diverse talent, facilitating conversations with the Detroit Police Department and community stakeholders, and advocating for equality at all levels of government

The objectives come following national demonstrations against racism and injustice triggered by the death of an unarmed Black Minneapolis man after a white police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest. The Detroit-based parent company of mortgage giant Quicken Loans was among nine of the city's largest employers to commit in June to eliminating all forms of bias, racism, sexism and violence in their companies and community.

Jay Farner, Rocket Companies Inc. CEO, gives his remarks about racism in this country during a press conference, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. He joined top executives at nine of Detroit's largest corporations in standing together against racism and injustice in America and its criminal justice system.

"We are making the commitment to both hold ourselves accountable internally to our team members and our clients and externally to the community," said Trina Scott, Rocket's chief diversity officer. "This is just another step toward that direction."

Rocket's family of companies is the city's largest employer with more than 18,000 employees in Detroit, and 35% of them are people of color. The company has had town hall sessions with black employees and others to hear their sentiments. Their thoughts will help to assess the need for future training, educational resources and future listening sessions as well as changes to promotion standards, Scott said.

The company also organized a town hall with Police Chief James Craig in July in efforts to foster greater dialogue on police brutality and reforms.

One of Rocket's objectives is to leverage its external affairs team to advocate measures to ensure opportunities for homeownership. Earlier this month, the Quicken Loans Community Fund committed $1 million to help Detroit homeowners afford property repairs as well as provide 25,000 residents with assistance in seeking help for delinquent property taxes.

The company also will represent interests in favor of equality at all government levels, CEO Jay Farner has said. In July, Bill Emerson, the company's vice chairman, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting the department reconsider a rule change to the Fair Housing Act that some experts say would increase significantly the burden on victims of housing discrimination.

Rocket Companies Inc. has held town hall meetings with its employees to obtain feedback and hear their sentiments on topics of racism that have come to the forefront of national discussions in recent months.

"We are living in a pivotal moment of American history, with much of the nation looking more deeply at the systemic effects of discrimination throughout our society and economy," Emerson wrote. "In the spirit of that moment, policymakers and industry participants alike should look beyond the surface forms of discrimination to those that lie beneath, because the effects are often no less destructive."

In Michigan, Rocket also has supported legislation to create a commission on law enforcement standards as well as a law passed in June to increase police training and decrease excessive force.

Farner and Emerson also have met with local leaders on the matter, including the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the NAACP's Detroit chapter, whose call to action brought together the nine employers in June.

"I want them right where they are," Anthony said of Detroit's corporate citizens like Rocket. "You have corporate board meetings, private clubs, access to senators, presidents, congresspeople. If they see something that is wrong, they should do something, activate their voice."

Rocket's plan also emphasizes diversity and inclusion in the company's recruitment process, leadership development, employee engagement opportunities and communications.

"When we think about the expectations of job seekers, I think it's important we have to continue to show this is not just driven by the bottom-line impact," Scott said. "We revolutionized the process of operating and how people go about a mortgage. That same philosophy applies to our people, our workspace."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble