Deepa Purushothaman joins me in this conversation on race to talk about the racism, isolation, and trauma many women of color experience in corporate America.
What is it like for a woman of color to get promoted up to the executive suite and still have to deal with microaggressions, blatant racism, and trivialization? What is it like to be the only person of color in your school and to hear people say how much they hate you? What is it like as a woman of color to constantly have to prove your accomplishments while white people are never questioned?
Hear the answers to these questions in this episode with Deepa Purushotaman as she shares her experiences and those of other women of color in the workforce.
[2:30] Growing up as the only Indian-American in her school in an almost all-white town.
[4:35] First experience with racism and speaking out at the age of eight
[7:30] The trauma of racism and its effect on physical and mental health.
[10:29] The importance of women of color getting together, sharing their experiences, and helping to heal each other.
[13:14] Letting go of feeling responsible for your “whole group” or race.
[16:22] Coming to terms with burnout from microaggressions, trying to fit in, and feeling alone. How Deepa began organizing dinners with other senior women of color across the country to heal together.
[31:00] How to practice scenarios as an ally, and speak up as a woman of color. Know what to say and take care of yourself and be able to express pain. How not to feel responsible for other people’s reactions.
[41:27] Address systems and structures that have never included women of color.
[44:51] How losing everything and having to go on public assistance was a turning point for Deepa Purushothaman and intensified her consciousness and empathy.
[48:08] Issues of colorism and why some Asian women are uncomfortable talking to Black women about race.
[51:52] While there are differences amongst women of color, there are also similarities that need to be addressed together.
Deepa Purushothaman Bio
Many women of color have scars from climbing the corporate ladder. Sixty percent of WOC feel their companies are not properly prepared to handle racist incidents in the workplace – it’s time to eliminate those incidents by creating unbiased and accountable corporate cultures.
As the first Indian woman to become a partner at Deloitte, Deepa Purushothaman experienced isolation and burnout firsthand. And then came the overt workplace harassment. Her new book, THE FIRST, THE FEW, THE ONLY: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America (March 1, 2022, Harper Business), lays the groundwork for how other women of color can redefine success on their own terms. It’s the book she says she needed when launching her own career.
Simma Lieberman, The Inclusionist helps leaders create inclusive cultures. She is a consultant, speaker and facilitator and the host of the podcast, “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People.”
Go to www.simmalieberman.com and www.raceconvo.com for more information
Simma is a member of and inspired by the global organization IAC (Inclusion Allies Coalition) https://inclusioncoalition.info