We’re inspired by our team members who truly live our purpose. Shermika D., a senior manager on Kimberly-Clark’s customer and channel marketing team is one of those team members. Shermika celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a day of reflection and service. In this interview, she shares how she honors the holiday by living out her mantra of paying it forward by creating generational change in her community. Read on. You’ll be inspired by her too.
Q: Why did you join Kimberly-Clark?
SD: I joined Kimberly-Clark in 2020. When I was in graduate school, Kimberly-Clark was heavily involved in the National Black MBA Chapter in Atlanta, Georgia, and was always a target company for me because of the caring culture.
Q: What excites you the most about your role at Kimberly-Clark?
SD: As a senior manager of customer and channel marketing, I’m responsible for leading the marketing strategy for some of our largest customers. I get to stay close to the customer, flex my digital/e-commerce marketing skillset, devise innovative marketing strategies, and use my position to make a difference in my community.
I also have a fantastic leader who supports my development and creates an environment for me to thrive, and I work with great people. I have found vast mentorship and development opportunities through our employee resource groups, African Ancestry Employee Network (AAEN) and the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN), leading recruitment efforts for our MBA Marketing Program, and serving on councils that work with leadership to ensure our culture remains great.
Q: As the new chair for Kimberly-Clark’s African Ancestry Employee Network (AAEN), what are some of your goals for AAEN, and what is the value that employee resource groups (commonly known as ERGs) like AAEN bring to the company?
SD: AAEN provides employees the opportunity to lead with integrity, reach their professional development goals, and gain access to sponsorship and promotional opportunities. In general, ERGs help you find your tribe. As a person of color, it is extremely comforting to enter a company and talk to people who experience the same struggles as you, listen to the same music, and have a shared culture. Moreover, ERGs are able to cascade concerns to leadership to advocate and impact change.
Q: Can you share about work you do outside of Kimberly-Clark to strengthen your community?
SD: My mantras are to pay it forward and be of service.
I serve as the Director of Marketing for the National Black MBA Association, Atlanta Chapter. I have marketed events that raised over $150,000 towards student scholarships for black students. I received a scholarship from the Atlanta Chapter and vowed I would pay it forward.
I serve as the finance chairman in my chapter for my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated ®, the oldest Greek-lettered organization established by African American college-educated women. I lead a team that focuses on training members on financial planning. I also spearheaded creating the first directory that focuses on supporting entrepreneurs.
I’m also a mentor to many aspiring marketers and professionals of color. Through my work with AAEN, I helped implement and lead sessions for six months on Personal Branding for AAEN Villages. I serve on the board of United Way’s African American Partnership Program in Atlanta, which is committed to ensuring young black men exceed academically. I believe education is a powerful tool that no one can take away, so I am inspired to serve to help other young people attain their goals through education. Finally, I serve with the Junior League of Atlanta at various events committed to expanding opportunities and opening doors for women and girls, such as making cards and snack packages for ill children, passing out care packages to young girls, and increasing my knowledge of DEI, Event Planning, etc to make me a better volunteer.
Q: What’s the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day and why are you passionate about it?
SD: MLK Day is a day to serve and remember why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died. It is not a day off -- it is a day on. It is a day of reflection of how people were, and still are, treated based on the color of their skin. My grandmother is 90 and experienced the harshness of being treated as ‘less than’ others. I am passionate because MLK Day honors Dr. King and other fighters of the Civil Rights Movement who gave their lives to fight for the disenfranchised and marginalized.
Q: MLK Day is designated as a National Day of Service in the United States. How have you served the community during past MLK Days, and what is your plan for this year’s observance?
SD: I have built houses, done landscaping work for schools, mentored children, served the homeless, and more. This year, I will make no-sew fleece blankets for the homeless with Junior League of Atlanta.
Q: What’s your favorite MLK quote and why?
SD: "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."
We each have a voice and we must use it. We cannot be quiet to affect change. One cannot say they stand for a cause and be silent. It’s important to use our voices to make a difference for positive change.
Q: How does MLK Day connect to Kimberly-Clark’s purpose of Better Care for a Better World?
SD: I live by the Bible verse ‘that to whom much is given, much will be required.’ To make the world better, we must show care for those around us. This ladders up to our purpose as we positively impact the communities where we live and work not just by providing essential products that improve people’s lives, but through workforce development/career opportunities, community giving and volunteering, our work to help fight damaging stigmas related to periods and incontinence, social impact initiatives/partnerships with key NGOs, and more.
Are you looking to get more involved in your community? Starting with your local United Way is a good way to find nearby volunteer opportunities that align with your interests. As you volunteer, remember Kimberly-Clark’s Community Partners program, which recognizes the volunteer efforts of Kimberly-Clark employees and their spouses or domestic partners with a $500 grant to the charitable organizations to which they gave their time (30+ hours).