How Women of Color Advance In the Workplace with Minda Harts

How Women of Color Advance In the Workplace with Minda Harts
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Minda Harts is the award-winning and best-selling author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat, a career development book for women of color in the workplace. She is also the CEO of The Memo LLC, a career development platform for women of color, and an Assistant Professor at NYU Wagner. In this episode of Millennial Wealth Builders, Minda Harts shares the challenges of women of color in the workplace, how to take control of our careers, and the impact publishing her book has had on Black women in the workplace. 

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Minda Harts 0:00

My name is Minda Harts. And you're listening to Millennial Wealth Builders Podcast.

Danielle Desir 0:16

Co-hosted by Acquania Escarne, the host of the Purpose of Money, and Danielle Desir, the host of The Thought Card. Millennial Wealth Builder Series is where we share the stories of women of color building wealth.

Acquania Escarne 0:32

But this isn't your ordinary interview-based show. Throughout the series, you'll be hearing from women who are creatively secure in the bag, stacking coins, you know what we mean?

Minda Harts 0:52

Probably some people would probably call us working poor, but I didn't necessarily know that's what we were at the time. But we made do but one of the things that I did see my parents struggle early on, and I realized that part of that struggle was probably because we needed more money, right. And so one of the things that I did at an early age is, get my first job because I wanted to be able to buy the little things that I wanted, but also, you know, help out if I needed to. And so that was throwing phone books. I'm dating myself here but so I'd have a little phone book route that I would deliver two apartments and my parents would drive me and then I'd run from the car to the place and drop the heavy phone books off.

Danielle Desir 1:39

Minda Harts is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Memo: What women of color need to know to secure a seat at the table.

She is also the CEO of The Memo LLC, a career development platform for women of color. Not to mention, she's an assistant professor at NYU Wagner. She hosts the podcast secure the seat, and currently lives in New York City. In this episode, you're going to hear about her best and worst moments of her corporate career.

Some of the microaggressions women of color face in the workplace, some bad advice that we get, and also how writing the memo has impacted women of color in the workplace.

Last but not least, we're going to be hearing about her unique way of building wealth. Minda Harts is unapologetically black and proud. This is her story.

Minda Harts 2:35

I would say the best moment of my corporate career was when I entered into corporate America because it was I didn't know what I didn't know, I went into the job thinking that if you work really hard, you get opportunities. And I didn't know that there'd be so many biases and microaggressions that would meet me later on. But I came in very green and willing to work hard and you know, play hard. And I would say that was probably I wish that I could capture that feeling again because you know, it radically changed who I was once I got firmly footed into corporate America. And I would say my least favorite was probably in 2013 I was experiencing a really difficult, toxic racialized work environment. And I was the only one only black woman and I just had no allies. I had no support. It was a really hard and difficult time period because I realized something. Racism doesn't just kill people, it kills careers too.

Some of the microaggressions that women face in the workplace. I would say our name for starters, you know, oftentimes we have to really think about will the person on the receiving end have bias once they see what my full government name is? If it's not Stan, you know, status quo to what people think is natural and American or whatever, you know, those biases are. So we often have to think about in my case, I chose to use Minda versus Yasminda because I felt like I'd have a better shot of getting at least an interview and get through some of those. I'd say the other common microaggressions however you want to label them is our hair. It's always some racialized conversations around our hair be it's naturally straight, naturally curly, whatever braids, it's always a topic of conversation. And then lastly, I would say the wage gap because black women, women of color make less than

those women in the dominant majority. And so again, we're being micro, we're being macro aggressive in our wallets as well, I would suggest acknowledging that they exist. Because I think for so long. The stories that we tell ourselves is that, oh, they don't mean any harm right there. That's just so and so. And so and so when in reality that harm is being caused to us each and every day, sometimes multiple times a day. So we first have to be comfortable by giving ourselves permission to call racism in the workplace. I think the...

We haven't called it that for so many reasons, a form of I understand safety, trying to create some psychological safety for ourselves by not calling it that. But I also think it's also been harmful to us not being able to call a thing a thing. I think we get so much bad advice, well-intentioned.

Lot of bad advice, one of those things I would say is just get in there work hard and put your head down. I think that, yes, you should have a strong work ethic. But there's so many other things happening in the workplace that you're not always going to be seen in the ways you need to be in the workplace. If you are just keeping your head down people, you need to be able to articulate your value and quantify your worth from the get-go. It set us back in ways that I wish that it hasn't. I would say one key thing is the salary negotiation part. Because if we never negotiate our salary, then you know, it's going to be very hard to obtain the wealth that we want with those incremental raises or none at all. Right. And so we really have to make sure that we are doing our due diligence, doing the research, and making sure that we're documenting what we're working on. But then asking, because part of the equation that we can solve is asking, we may not get it or we might but you have to ask yourself, What if and one of the issues I find is that a lot of women of color, black women are not asking enough. And I think that may help some of this.

Danielle Desir 6:27

Why do you think that women of color are afraid to ask for a higher salary, either at the onset of when they're getting hired on board? Or when they feel like they're ready to get a raise or get a promotion? Why do you think that we kind of stray away from that?

Minda Harts 6:42

Yeah, I think actually, this goes back to the bad advice, but well-intentioned advice, don't get just be grateful, right, just be grateful. But being grateful is not in the job description. And so we tend not to ask for what we want, because we just are happy to be there. And they're there. We don't have time for that anymore.

You know, it's a very humbling thing for me to answer this question, because I know that this the memo was a for myself even the first time that I read a career book about women of color. And I know that it was the first time that a lot of women and black women were able to read about their career experiences. And so just the impact of being seen being validated being heard. I hear from college students, I hear from women who are about to retire, and just how thankful that they are to receive the book, I even had one woman, she was probably in her 60s. And she sent me a message and she said, You know, I want to apologize to you because I should have wrote this book for you. But thank you for writing it for us. And I'm just so thankful that people are finding it and finding value in it.

Danielle Desir 7:53

So recently, Walgreens has named Rosalyn Brewer as its next CEO making Starbucks executive the only black woman to currently run a Fortune 500 company. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Minda Harts 8:07

Well, I'm really excited that Ms. Brewer is going to be you know, the next CEO of Walgreens. But I also think that the larger question is succession planning. So what is Starbucks going to do to refer to make sure that there's another black woman who enters that role. And I think that's what needs to be part of the conversation, is success in succession planning, because oftentimes, C suite executives leave and they don't consider a black woman as their successor. And so I think the more we actually need to talk about that, and I think that can be part of the metrics that corporations use to make sure that they're hitting their diversity markers.

I think about this a lot, just because I think being in a global pandemic, you think about your impact and what you hope your legacy will be. But what I hope people will remember me for is that I helped open up the door to a larger conversation about black women in the workplace. I've started to invest in black-owned companies as another vehicle to help create wealth because, you know, I don't have any children. But I also want to make sure that I leave not just a legacy in equity work, but financially too and for my nephews, and I want to, and I have to do that by being active in my pursuit to building wealth. One vehicle that I use is a crowd and equity crowdfunding platform called Republic, it allows you to invest in not large amounts, but comfortable amounts in different black-owned businesses that you can choose from. And that has been really helpful for me because maybe you aren't there yet where you want to give 25,000 or $50,000, but you have $1,000. And you want to be able to invest that in or in a real way. And so that's just another aspect and I think another tool in our financial toolkit.

Danielle Desir 9:54

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Millennial Wealth Builders. A very special thank you to Minda Harts for her special appearance on the series. We are actually going to be giving away two copies of Minda's best-selling book, The Memo. All you have to do to enter to win is for you to join our newsletter. We will be announcing the winners on March 15th. So head over to our show notes, click on the newsletter link, join us and subscribe, and be entered to win copies of The Memo. Thanks again for tuning in and we'll see you again next time.

As a gift to our podcast listeners, we’re giving away (2) copies of Minda Harts’ book The Memo. Enter to win by subscribing to our newsletter by March 15th — become a Millennial Wealth Builder here.

In this episode we cover:

  • Microaggressions women of color face in the workplace and how to address them.
  • Bad advice women of color receive about advancing in the workplace. 
  • The impact Minda Harts’ The Memo has had on Black women in corporate America.

Resources Mentioned

The Memo: What Women of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat

Pre-order Right Within set to release October 2021. Right Within is a self-help book for women of color to heal—and thrive—in the workplace.  

Discover private investing opportunities by downloading the Republic app.

Connect With Minda Harts

Minda Harts is a sought-after speaker and thought-leader, frequently speaking on advancing women of color, leadership, diversity, and entrepreneurship. In 2018, she was named one of 25 Emerging Innovators by American Express. 


Minda Harts podcast Secure The Seat Podcast — hear stories of everyday women of color as they lean into a workforce that isn’t always invested in their success. 

Twitter: @mindaharts

Instagram: @mindaharts

Listen to other episodes of the Millennial Wealth Builders Series:

Episode 1: Our Wealth Building Stories

Episode 2: How To Invest In Real Estate With No Money Down

Episode 3: How To Negotiate A Raise

Episode 4: How To Invest In Hotels

More Places to Listen to The Thought Card Podcast 

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