Minda Harts: A Conversation With The Author Of “The Memo”

A recent Fortune Magazine survey shows that nearly two-thirds of American CEOs have committed to taking meaningful action to advance racial equity within their organizations .

Just this week, JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, committed $30 billion dollars in support.

But, it’s not just money that organizations must spend in order to attain greater diversity and fairness, of course. Facebook, for example, has devoted millions of dollars to diversity efforts; but its latest report card shows the proportion of Black and Hispanic employees only increased from 8.4% in 2018 to 9.0% in 2019. So, spending a lot of money isn’t the solution.

Today, Black people represent just three percent of workers at the top 75 tech firms – and only three percent of people holding management roles in companies with 100 or more employees. There’s a lot of room left for improvement.

What individual managers need most today then, is clear guidance on how to fulfill their CEO’s mission and help create greater diversity within their own teams.  CEO pledges are directionally important, but most companies evidently have little experience or success in these matters.

Minda Harts, assistant professor of public service at New York University, has just written a rather down-to-earth and honest guide to career success for people of color (women especially) called “The Memo: What Women Of Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat At The Table.”  As our guest, she shares intimate and practical insight on how workplace managers can better understand the challenges and countless barriers people of color experience, not to mention equally useful ideas on how to make meaningful improvements within their own teams – and within their own organizations.

Minda’s book is a national bestseller and is both thoughtfully and humorously written.  One of the nearly 600 Amazon on-line reviews helps to capture the overriding intent of this episode of the podcast:

As a white-presenting person in leadership in my field, I’m not the primary target audience for this book, and that’s important. Fellow white folks in leadership roles: when was the last time you read a career book that wasn’t *for* you? If you can’t remember, read this with the goal of learning more about people with different experiences from yours. Think about why she’s saying things that feel surprising or uncomfortable, and what that means for how we can do better.”

We all want to do better in this regard, and Minda Harts brings warmth, candor and rather wonderful perspective to a discussion intended to help, inform and enlighten.  Our conversation couldn’t be more timely – or useful.

By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.