“Did you know as a woman of color you can ask for more? Did you know that you do belong at the table? You have the tools to break through the glass ceiling, just like any other women,” says Minda Harts, Co-founder of The Memo, a career development platform focused on advancing women of color.
Harts is a first-generation college student, who grew up in a household that made less than $25, 000 a year. She overcome her own career challenges and now wants to help other women do the same. “Half the battle is recognizing the unique challenges women of color face, and providing them with access to similar women who can support them.”
Hart shares her views on why career programs for women of color are needed and how the diversity conversation is changing.
Why do we need The Memo?
The conversation is a little bit different when you are talking about women of color. I don’t feel that the career platforms out there speak to me. I started this because I wanted to see how we can empower and support one another.
The Memo is a career development platform for women of color. As a women of color, I know how hard it can be to overcome the unique challenges in the workplace, in terms of bias.
How is this different from other programs?
As simple as it may sound it is about having the conversation. If you are the only women of color, you never get to have these conversations in your workplace. We bring women together and give them all the resources and tools they need.
Our goal is when they go into the office on Monday, they can feel empowered and they have a group of women to support them.
What do you think holds women back from advancing?
It is about access. Women need to see someone like them. You don’t know you can do it, until you see someone like you who has done it.
When we take leadership roles we send a message that we belong in these roles and we can do them.
What are the unique challenges that women on your program experience?
You have to see something to know that you can be it. Access to women that look like you in senior positions is key. This is about inspiration. Letting women know that they can ask for more. And a lot of that is about building confidence.
Another key issue is salary. A lot of women of color take on the breadwinner role in their families. So when we make 64 cents to the dollar, this has a lot of impact. For so long the narrative has been ‘you only get to make this amount of money, you won’t go up much higher.’ A lot of women don’t want to rock the boat.
We are changing the narrative about diversity. We are saying you are worth more. You have a voice and you can use it.
Does this exclude others?
We are a platform for all women. We welcome all women. We even have men at our boot camps.
But as women of color, we often fall on the lower end of the pay scale and we don’t have access to senior roles. There has to be some curated content that helps women of color specifically, to break the glass ceiling.
We realize that women of color have been left out of the conversation so we are reframing it. We want everyone to see women of color rocking it.