A few years ago I got an email from Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, asking me if I'd meet with a woman named Minda Harts. I'm forever grateful that I said "yes." Minda is the CEO of The Memo, a career-development community platform for women of color. Her new book bears the same name as her organization with the subtitle What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table.
Minda doesn't mince words about the frustration of being marginalized, underrepresented, underestimated, and invisible in the workplace. In one story, a white male boss commented on her burnt orange mani: "You people love your bright colors." She describes the humiliation and anger that she felt in that moment. Stories like these resonate deeply and are accompanied with practical tips like knowing when to speak up, finding your squad, or clarifying your purpose.
As a woman of color myself, I have to say that it's one of the most affirming books I've read. This is because Minda unapologetically writes the book exclusively for us. She doesn't even attempt to play to a "broad audience." In fact, she relegates her white readers to one chapter entitled "No More Passes: For My White Readers." I'd encourage any white ally who is heartfelt about advancing women of color in the workplace to complete the following exercise: read every word of The Memo, except for your chapter. I'm sure you will experience confusion, frustration, and even feel blindsided at times because this book is definitely not designed for you. Now imagine that every day you had to wake up and go to a workplace that was like this book—totally not designed for you! That will give you a tiny window into what it feels like to be a woman of color at your company. With every page turn, I felt like the sister in the front row at church waving her cardboard fan and shouting out "amen!" I'm hoping that all of us can join Minda's choir.