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Why We Decided to Launch a New Business for Women of Color During the Pandemic

Deepa Purushothaman and Rha Goddess  |  December 3, 2020

We are in a watershed moment for Women of Color in America. Here's how one company is helping women take a seat at the table.

We decided to launch a new business during the pandemic. Although it’s challenging time to be launching anything, in many ways it also felt like the perfect time.  

We are in a watershed moment for Women of Color in America.  By 2060, Women of Color will be the majority of all women in the United States, according to data from Catalyst. This coupled with the collapsing economy and the racial pandemic of this summer has created a new urgency for the unique voices and contributions of this growing majority.  It’s a challenging time to be a Woman of Color at work, and yet our voice is needed in unprecedented ways.  

Through hundreds of interviews and facilitated conversations with high achieving Women of Color, we’ve discovered that many of us do not even have words for the kinds of challenges we’ve faced at work. And so it has been difficult to give voice to what we need in order to thrive. We weren’t at the table when the existing structures and ways of working were formed. They were not created by us, nor were they created for us.

LISTEN: Minda Harts On How Women Of Color Can Secure A Seat At The Table 

The company we created, nFormation is a safe space and a brave space for Women of Color to gather.  A space where we can find each other to combat the isolation many of us feel, where we can support each other to show up in our full voice, where we can define what comes next for our companies, our organizations and our world.

We created this movement for the first woman of color in their families to go to college, work outside the home, or have a professional role, the few Women of Color in a department or unit, and the only woman of color in a senior leadership role at their company or organization.  These women, who we call the “firsts, the fews and the onlys,” carry a unique burden and promising opportunity. We were both “firsts” and felt isolated as we navigated our experiences in our workplaces.  In addition to executing the role we were hired to do, as WOC, we often find ourselves serving as the sole voice on Women of Color issues, current national events, and sometimes race in our workplaces. We have the burden of taking on the extra responsibility that comes with success and high achievement. But we also have an opportunity to pave a new path for leadership.  

As people who exist at the intersection of multiple types of marginalization, we are uniquely equipped to understand the issues associated with power. nFormation aims to explore how to grow individually and work collectively to help heal the broken power structure in ways that are equitable and empowering for society as a whole.  

LISTEN: What White Women Can Do To Be Allies For Women Of Color

The part of our business that has evolved most during the pandemic is our focus on Executive and Board placement. In addition to creating a safe, brave and new space for gathering Women of Color, we also want to focus on the right next opportunities for Women of Color.  We want to help WOC find their next step in companies that are Women of Color-friendly, and we want organizations to take greater responsibility for helping women root once they arrive. We focus not just on placing women in new and important roles, but also on making sure they get the support they need to show up in their full voice.  

We are in a moment where Women of Color are being called, and if we want to realize what is in front of us, we need a space created by Women of Color, for Women of Color, to gather. Because we don’t just need to take our seat at the table — we need to change the way the table is formed. It’s time to get i(n)to formation to help Women of Color show up in full voice and be heard. Join us at n2formation.com.

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