A black woman working in technology faces several barriers in the boardroom. First, she’s a woman working in a male-dominated industry.
Secondly, she’s a black woman who’s more vulnerable to gender as well as cultural bias. In fact, the Ascend Foundation reported the percentage of black female workers has declined despite diversity initiatives aimed at hiring more underrepresented minorities in technology. Lastly, if you’re a black woman who works in the fintech (financial technology) sector like Natasha Bansgopaul, there’s an even bigger hurdle. Although 46% of financial services employees are women, at the executive level, it’s only 15%, according to Mercer’s Gender Diversity report.
So, how do you stay motivated to advance in your career and create a lane for yourself in an industry where you don’t see people who look like you? How do you speak up for yourself in a boardroom primarily dominated by men? Well, for answers to these questions I caught up with Bansgopaul, the co-founder of DarcMatter, a global fintech platform.
Bansgopaul is not only blazing trails for women of color in technology through her fintech company, she’s also utilizing technology to increase access and transparency while decreasing costs due to inefficiencies. DarcMatter focuses on streamlining the capital raising process for fund managers (GPs) while making it easy for investors (LPs) to access, research, and invest in quality fund products online.
Here are her tips for speaking up for yourself in a meeting full of men.
When walking into a boardroom for a meeting, which may include primarily men—particularly white men, what, if any, assumptions do you make about what people expect from you?
Anytime I walk into boardrooms or client meetings, where the majority of time I am dealing with men, and more specifically white men, I always assume that they expect my male co-founder to lead the meeting and, I also assume, that they do not expect me to speak during the meeting, and for me to say little to nothing. (I expect them to think that I am his assistant). Finally, I assume that they expect me to truly wow them during the meeting, which is fairly easy to do when their expectation of your contribution is already set fairly low. These assumptions are most definitely based on all of my experience to date, walking in and out of these boardrooms and client meetings. Unfortunately, there are very few times, where my assumptions have been wrong in this regard.