The Memo | Minda Harts

Summary of: The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table
By: Minda Harts


In The Memo, Minda Harts addresses the unique challenges faced by women of color in their quest to secure a seat at the leadership table. This insightful book delves into topics such as systemic racism, gender and racial wage gaps, and navigating difficult workplace situations. By offering practical advice on building relationships, mentoring, and negotiating both salaries and professional development opportunities, Harts aims to empower women of color and encourage their advancement in the workplace. With The Memo, readers will gain understanding of the various forces and biases that may impact their career journey, as well as strategies to combat these challenges. The inspirational stories of women who have shattered glass ceilings serve as powerful reminders of what can be achieved through perseverance and self-confidence.

Leaning In as a Woman of Color

Sandberg’s Lean In, a 2013 book that inspired many women, disregarded the experiences of women of color. These women find it challenging to lean in, especially when trying to speak out about systemic race and gender inequalities at work. Sandberg’s workforce only consists of 5% of women of color, adversely affecting their desire for leadership roles. The strict sets of rules made for white people also differ for women of color, making them feel demoralized and asking themselves how much racism has impacted their career delays.

Building Trust to Navigate Office Politics

Building relationships outside the office can help navigate office politics. According to author Minda Harts, establishing trust is essential in making important decisions. She suggests making rounds and continuously interacting with co-workers outside the office. Regularly following up with contacts and joining professional groups can also aid in developing lasting relationships. Harts emphasizes the importance of finding a mentor or sponsor, even if it means looking beyond women of color due to their underrepresentation in leadership positions. By creating these relationships, you can gain opportunities to discuss your ideas and be seen in a different light.

Black Women and Office Politics

This book delves into the struggles that Black women face in office politics. It shows how biases can affect hiring, assignments, and promotion opportunities, and how the concept of meritocracy is often a sham. The author shares her experiences of changing her name to make white people feel comfortable and how this reinforces systemic racism. The book suggests that companies can remove unconscious bias by removing names from job applications. Being well-liked can often be more helpful for promotion than merit. The author advises women of color to keep their emotions in check, not to spread rumors, and to elevate other women of color once they gain positions of power.

The Harm of “Mean Women” and Racism in the Workplace

Harts’ memoir, “The Memo,” explores her experiences of racism and sexism in the workplace, highlighting how such experiences can drive out good talent and hinder progress.

Harts’ memoir, “The Memo,” examines the complex intersection of race and gender in the workplace, drawing attention to the harmful effects of racism, sexism, and “mean girl” culture. She argues that white women’s support of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election was a contributing factor to Hillary Clinton’s loss and that pretending not to see color is a way of excusing racism. For many people, the election of Barack Obama signaled the end of racism in America, but Harts challenges this notion, arguing that racism is still deeply ingrained in every aspect of society.

Harts’ own experiences of workplace discrimination are a testament to the pervasiveness of these issues. Her co-worker Kerry’s mistreatment of her ultimately led to other colleagues mistreating her as well. While Harts wishes she had dealt with the situation differently, she recognizes the importance of speaking out against workplace discrimination and creating a more inclusive environment for all. Harts encourages those who face similar struggles to reach out to HR offices and not stay quiet, even if their efforts don’t immediately solve the problem. Overall, “The Memo” is a powerful exploration of the intersecting factors that can make workplaces hostile to some, obstructing progress and driving out good talent.

Negotiating Your Salary

Don’t wait for a pay raise, negotiate your salary. As a job applicant, pitch your skills and aim for the upper range to reach fair pay. Research your job position worth and prepare for negotiation. Don’t hesitate to negotiate for vacation time, remote working days, stock options, and professional development money. Women of color are usually paid less than a white man’s salary; therefore, be your own advocate and approach every negotiation with confidence and a strategy. If your employer doesn’t meet your expectations, be ready to leave if you receive a better offer.

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