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“Nothing moves me more than being a voice at the table representing those who have been underrepresented.” – Maggie Rivera. In the ever-evolving landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, Maggie Rivera stands as a beacon of inspiration and change. As the Director of DEI & Employee Experience at Paychex, she has become a driving force behind the company’s unwavering commitment to fostering a workplace that celebrates differences and thrives on inclusivity. 

Maggie’s journey is more than a career; it’s a relentless pursuit of uniting voices that have long been unheard. Her passion for DEI stems from a deeply rooted belief in the power of representation. “Dynamic” is the word she chooses to encapsulate both herself and her work—a term that perfectly encapsulates her boundless energy and unwavering enthusiasm in steering the course toward a more inclusive future. 

Having navigated through the complex terrain of DEI implementation, Maggie is not just a leader; she’s a catalyst for transformation. Her approach extends beyond mere policies; it’s about creating a cultural shift within the organization. Maggie doesn’t just talk about diversity; she lives it, weaving it into the fabric of Paychex’s DNA. 

In her role, Maggie is not confined to the boardroom. She is on a mission to redefine the very essence of the employee experience. Her commitment to bridging gaps extends beyond the internal workings of Paychex; it spills over into client interactions, making every touchpoint an opportunity for genuine connection and understanding. 

As we delve into Maggie Rivera’s dynamic journey, we uncover a narrative that goes beyond the conventional realms of corporate responsibility. It’s about building communities, igniting conversations, and, most importantly, being the voice that resonates with those who have long been on the periphery. 

Below are the interview highlights: 

A Twist of Fate into DEI 

Maggie Rivera’s venture into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) unfolded with an ironic sense of destiny. As an entry-level teller after high school, she navigated the intricate landscapes of retail banking and community development. The transition into DEI emerged organically as she dedicated substantial time to underrepresented communities. Recognizing her potential, the corporate realm beckoned her into a DEI role. Although Maggie ardently embraced the opportunity, the realization struck her that her current organization offered limited upward mobility. Another financial institution lured her back into a revenue-centric role, a strategic move advised by her mentors.

The turning point arrived with the George Floyd incident, prompting Maggie’s profound introspection. Despite chasing wealth and upward mobility, she found herself on the sidelines when the world urgently needed experienced DEI practitioners. Unfazed by financial considerations, Maggie made a conscious decision to return to DEI. 

“I knew fighting for underrepresented demographics and underserved communities is where I belong, and I’ve never looked back,” asserts Maggie. 

Shaping DEI Strategies in the U.S. Bank 

Before joining Paychex in August 2022, Maggie served as the DEI Strategy Manager at U.S. Bank. In this role, she crafted strategies aimed at accelerating representation, engagement, development, and retention. Notably, Maggie collaborated on a groundbreaking leadership development program designed to shatter the middle manager glass ceiling for the Hispanic segment, earning national recognition. 

Maggie’s imprint extended beyond traditional banking roles. Her innovative mesh wi-fi system, addressing the digital divide in underserved communities, garnered recognition from entities like the Cleveland Foundation and Digital C. 

Overcoming Obstacles and Making a Genuine Impact 

Booker T. Washington’s timeless quote encapsulates Maggie’s journey: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles that he has overcome while trying to succeed.” Maggie’s formative years were marked by adversity—extreme poverty and chronic homelessness. These challenges indirectly impacted her education, emotional stability, health, and cognitive growth. Through sheer grit, determination, and mentorship, Maggie systematically overcame each obstacle. 

Later in her career, working in Community Development Banking, Maggie found herself in rooms with influential individuals eager to make a difference but lacking a nuanced understanding of life in poverty. This realization fueled her commitment to making a tangible impact on underserved communities. 

“I knew I ‘was successful’ because I was making a genuine impact in people’s lives. My accomplishments meant a lot more because of the work I had to do to get a seat at that table,” reflects Maggie. 

Navigating Human Capital Management Challenges 

As a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions, Paychex empowers business owners with innovative technology and personalized services. With over 50 years of industry expertise, Paychex serves more than 730,000 payroll clients in the U.S. and Europe. 

Maggie emphasizes Paychex’s commitment to simplifying the complexities of federal, state, and local legislation. The company prioritizes designing products and leveraging data science to alleviate the burden for clients, employees, and their families. 

Ethical Commitment 

Paychex’s unwavering commitment to values, particularly integrity and ethics, has earned it recognition as one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ by Ethisphere for 14 consecutive years. In 2021, Paychex introduced an environmental policy aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Crucially, Paychex places a robust emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Achieving 100% pay equity in the U.S., expanding employee resource groups, implementing a bridge program for women and people of color, and joining CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion highlight Paychex’s dedication to fostering an inclusive workplace. 

Diverse and Dynamic Responsibilities 

As a DEI leader at Paychex, Maggie oversees Corporate Communications, Creative Services, Culture, and the enterprise-wide, evidence-based DEI strategy. Her dynamic role involves diverse activities, ranging from shaping enterprise-wide strategies to collaborating with community leaders on DEI initiatives. 

Maggie’s days are marked by meetings and presentations, covering a spectrum of responsibilities. Whether working on an enterprise-wide strategy, engaging with community leaders, or collaborating with her creative services and communications team, Maggie experiences a day filled with diverse challenges. 

“Never a dull moment,” she exclaims. 

Impact Beyond Awards 

While Maggie has garnered numerous accolades throughout her career, including Cleveland’s 40 under 40 and the YWCA’s Women of Achievement award, she places greater value on the recognition stemming from individuals impacted by her leadership. The real testament to her leadership, she asserts, lies in the positive impact she makes in people’s lives. 

“Although awards and recognition are great, the impact you make matters most. There’s nothing better than helping someone achieve their goals and dreams,” affirms Maggie. 

Influencing Generational Change 

Maggie acknowledges the persistent gender disparities in leadership roles, despite women constituting half of the labor force. She challenges outdated definitions of leadership that often exclude women from prestigious roles. 

According to Maggie, women leaders possess essential qualities—passion, ambition, determination, empathy, and a strong sense of ownership. To effect generational change, Maggie advocates increasing the visibility of women’s success stories to provide comprehensive role models for girls. Women leaders, she believes, have a duty to role model, sponsor, mentor, and inspire the upcoming generation. 

Striving for Work-Life Balance 

Navigating work-life balance remains an ongoing challenge for Maggie. Implementing strategies such as food prep rituals, early morning exercises, and blackout times for personal and family moments, she exemplifies a commitment to balance. Maggie’s proactive approach extends to motivating her team through open dialogues about expectations and weekly meetings to address deliverables. 

As Maggie reflects on her journey, she emphasizes the significance of authenticity in her pursuit of success. Her advice for women in business resonates with resilience, encouraging them to persevere through challenges, remember their purpose, and leverage their unique perspectives. 

Ever-Evolving DEI Advocate 

Maggie Rivera’s journey epitomizes resilience, commitment, and a passion for driving positive change. Her trajectory—from overcoming personal adversities to shaping impactful DEI strategies—reflects a profound dedication to inclusivity. As Paychex continues its ethical commitment and Maggie navigates the dynamic landscape of DEI leadership, her story remains a testament to the transformative power of authenticity and purpose-driven leadership.

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