Exec interview: Brook Sims, COO, MAC Diversity Recruiters

Passionate about helping others find their voice, diversity leader and COO Brook Sims talks powerful leadership, diverse teams and being a change agent

Having grown up in a household of activists, fighting for justice and equality since childhood, it’s unsurprising that Brook Sims would spend her career doing the same.  

“I have always had a heart for others and have leaned on bringing everyone to the table,” says Brook – who has a decade-long career leading DEI, talent acquisition, HR, sales, and training across a variety of industries.

“My natural inclination led to formalising my passion in Diversity work,” she tells Business Chief. “I believe that there are many stories to tell and voices that need to be heard.”

Brook is now taking her passion in diversity to MAC Diversity Recruiters as COO, where she will be part of the leadership team striving to “level the corporate playing field and enhance the access that diverse talent has to opportunities to prosper financially.”

As COO, “I have an exciting opportunity to work to significantly increase revenue and market share, and most importantly continue to build deep relationships with clients and candidates… to work with diverse candidates to find fulfilling career paths that promote environments for growth, inclusivity, and prosperity.”

Headquartered in Frisco, Texas, and operating for 20 years, MAC Diversity Recruiters has been creating access for diverse talent prior to DEI being a buzz phrase – and believes employers should be reflective of the communities in which they exist and serve.

“We believe there is a huge gap in our working world of people not appreciating and under-utilising very talented and capable diverse candidates,” says Brook. “Our purpose is to bring that talent to light for those corporations, so they know the talent is out there. We pride ourselves on long-lasting relationships and we have become an innovator in the diverse talent space.”

Brook – who has spent her career focused on delivering stellar people leadership and creating equitable workplaces – says she is thrilled about the impact MAC can make in the workplace. “My experience now allows me to align purpose and passion to help move this organisation to the next level.”

“As a diversity professional, I am a change agent”

Prior to joining MAC, Brook most recently served as a Leader of Inclusion and Diversity and Commercial Banking leader for First United Bank, and before that she spent nearly five years at JPMorgan Chase, including as an executive recruiter and part of the diversity strategy team. Her expertise in finance and DEI has led to her speaking on panels discussing Racial Equity and Women’s Leadership.

In her role as a diversity professional, Brook sees herself as a change agent. “I have the privilege of being a sounding board to listen to life stories and experiences,” she says. “At times, I am a therapist, a coach, an influencer, a partner, and an advocate for others. People will share some of their deepest feelings and concerns and I feel honoured to be on the listening end.”

It's a role she performs in all areas of her life – as the Board VP for Midwest Food Bank, and as a volunteer with Rainbow Days, and The Village Giving Circle, a black female-founded and led philanthropic organisation. “We give our time and money to support organisations that empower our community and work to change the narrative of what black philanthropy looks like,” she says.

That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges. Brook points to her biggest career challenges as those where she stayed in professional environments that nurtured toxic behaviour and that were unsupportive of her growth – something that took a toll on her health and wellbeing.

“I have been fortunate to have been coached and guided to finally stand in my power, embrace my strengths, and believe in myself in the ways that others have believed in me.”

And this is exactly what great leaders should be doing for others. Brook describes a great leader as one who is powerful but in ways that we don’t traditionally lean towards when defining a leader.

“A powerful leader is one who can elevate others over themselves and help them achieve their highest potential,” she says. They can create space for people to be seen, heard, and celebrated. They can lead with integrity and listen without judgment. They prioritise their own learning and growth so they can continue to show up in ways that empower others. They take time to challenge themselves and reflect on how and why they think the way they do and are open to new possibilities and find value in understanding other perspectives."

Brook points to connection and inclusion as her own biggest leadership strengths, along with her continued desire to “discover more about others and help them find their voice and confidence.”

“Diverse leadership essential for continued growth”

She believes diverse leadership is essential for continued growth, and points to a multitude of studies that have shown the positive impact diverse leadership brings to any organisations.

“It results in diverse teams that help to foster an environment of inclusivity, broadened perspective, innovation, enhanced problem solving, and increase revenue and profitability,” she says.

She acknowledges that in the last couple of years, more awareness has been brought to the diversity space, with leaders empowered to have poignant conversations and take targeted action to build connected workplaces.

“The direction has changed in a way that allows attention to be given to issues that have truly affected employees personally and professionally,” Brook tells Business Chief. “They have a voice to challenge the way people think, they challenge the way business is done, and challenge what the essence of a successful professional environment should look and feel like.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t challenges for the diversity space moving forward with the biggest hurdle in making sure the committed actions are speaking louder than the words, says Brook.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than sayings. They are a lifelong commitment. People must deliver in new ways that will redefine the essence of what the workplace is.

“The changes don’t happen overnight, and the endeavour must go much deeper than words posted online or shared at town halls. The right actions and effort are required to make a sustainable change.”

As for her own goals at MAC, Brook is firmly focused on making the firm a household name and strategic go-to partner and resource for companies. The future will also include a focus on expanding the MAC brand to provide consultative services for clients in the development and execution of their DEI strategy.

“Our impact is global, and I’m excited every day that we can bridge the gap and help change the narrative.”

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