The Memo is the much-needed career advice guide for women of color specifically, finally ending the one-size-fits-all approach of business books that lump together women across races and overlook the unique barriers to success for women of color.
In a charismatic and relatable voice, Minda Harts brings her entrepreneurial experience as CEO of The Memo to audio, as well as her past career life as a fundraising consultant to top colleges across the country. With wit and candor, Harts begins by acknowledging the ugly truths that keep women of color from getting the proverbial seat at the table in corporate America: micro-aggressions, systemic racism, white privilege, etc. Harts validates that women aren’t making up the discrimination they feel, even if it isn’t always overt. From there, she gives straight talk on how to address these issues head-on and provides a roadmap to help women of color and their allies make real change to the system. With chapters on network-building, office policy,money, and negotiation, this overview covers all the basics that any good business book should. But through the author’s lens, it offers support and long-overdue advice particularly for women of color.
A sit down with the Author
What is your hope for how The Memo shapes conversations and actions within the corporate and working world?
In 2013 and I was experiencing a lot of things that were new to me, like negotiating salaries, moving to a new city, and all those career-related things. I was doing a lot of Googling around that time. I remember thinking, these articles are helpful, but I need something a little more tangible. I would like to know what other black women and women of color are experiencing; be it good or bad, I could learn from them. And that’s what sparked The Memo. I wanted a platform where women of color could hear real experiences and get real advice from real women regarding their career development. I also wanted a community that fosters diversity, because all women don’t experience the workplace the same.
My hope is that non-women of color will rally behind this book as they did for Lean In and Girl Boss, to name a couple of other career books. The future of work requires an investment in all talent. Wouldn’t you be a better colleague if you understood what it’s like for someone who doesn’t look like you to show up in the office every day? I hope The Memo will bridge the empathy gap in the workplace and foster hard conversations that lead to healing.
What advice would you give to a non-WOC wishing to be more inclusive or open up their perspective about WOC?
Be open and listen with your heart. The voices of women of color at work have been inaudible for so long. It’s time for you to listen and educate yourself on how to be a true ally; in action and not just words.
How do you keep going when the odds are stacked against you? What keeps you curious?
My curiosity is larger than my fear. I truly believe in equity. And when we achieve equity–everyone has skin in the game. We don’t yet have that and that is what keeps me fighting for it.
Who are the people who help you see different perspectives about yourself and the world?
I love the power of social media, specifically Twitter. I get a chance to “listen in” on various perspectives and it helps raise my level of consciousness and requires me to do some soul searching on my ideologies. These are people from the smallest cities to oversees. I become a better person as I challenge myself to thought-provoking content. So, not one particular person but a community of thought provokers.
What is your hope for change? Our political and social climate is so divisive right now. What is your vision for how that changes?
I recently spent 10 days on a Civil Rights tour in the deep South. It pains me to see much of what freedom fighters were asking for–equality and respect; is the same thing we are asking for so many decades later. It hurts, but I believe the band-aid has been ripped off and we might just be able to reconcile if we remain open to some ugly truths.
What surprised you most that you discovered during your research and writing?
That so many women of color felt isolated. When you are working in isolation you don’t have anyone to talk to or validate your feelings or experiences.
What is one take-away you think readers will appreciate about The Memo?
This book isn’t your typical career book. It’s packed with pop culture and musical references to help drive home important career development tips. For example, one chapter is called Empire State of Mind. And how having the right mindset can be a career game-changer.