The Memo

The Memo

What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table

Seal Press, 2019 more...

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Background
  • Engaging


The 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his white male assailant stirred New York University professor Minda Harts to action. She set out to help women of color attain corporate leadership roles and the accompanying power to bring about change. Harts offers solid, general advice to women of color who must navigate “microaggression” and unconscious bias. Her irreverent style belies the pain of the discrimination that remains prevalent in American workplaces. Speaking to recent college grads, young employees and older workers looking for a reboot, Harts also gives white managers valuable insight about way to increase inclusion.


Women of color are among the most educated people in the United States, yet make up only 4% of top Fortune 500 executives. They face systemic barriers to advancement.

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean In had a huge impact on women at work. But Sandberg’s perspective didn’t reflect the career experiences of women of color. Workplaces discourage them from leaning in, particularly if they want to discuss systemic racism and the gender and racial wage gap.

Companies devalue the contributions of women of color. For example, only 5% of Sandberg’s workforce is made up of women of color. This demoralizes women of color who aspire to earn leadership roles. Black women wonder how much of their career delay derives from racism. White people succeed because they follow rules made for them, but rules are different for women of color.

When you connect your friends, you build your network and your “social capital.” You need a network, at work and outside of it.

People make important decisions outside the office. During happy hour with co-workers, everyone learns information that helps...

About the Author

Minda Harts is co-founder of The Memo LLC, a consultancy that works to empower black women in their careers. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU Wagner.

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