The Power of More than One

One of the things I’m passionate about is finding the diversity in diversity. I’ve been lucky to work in industries where there’s a strong representation of female-identifying executives. I’ve enjoyed mentorship. I’ve appreciated the creativity, collegiality, and customer-centricity that emerge when we’re tackling business challenges together. But over the past few years, I’ve noticed another benefit: I’ve been able to see that there’s not one way to be a female executive of color.

I’ve witnessed multitasking single moms take meetings on the way to daycare. I’ve seen C-level moms model the importance of time off. I’ve been inspired by women who’ve made giving back to their communities their lives’ work. If I hadn’t seen more than one female executive in my career, how could I appreciate the diversity behind these paths?

We’re aware of the dangers of tokenism, and yet, how many of us have been in an awkward meeting when the conversation turns to us, and we’re asked to answer for millions of people:

  • What do women think?
  • What do Asians think?
  • What do “minorities” think?

Rather than obligingly attempting a response, perhaps we should pause. If we had just one other perspective, our replies would be 100 percent better!

Recently, I’ve been meeting with other chief marketing officers with Asian backgrounds, finding shared community in this group, but also enjoying our differences. East Asians, Southeast Asians, South Asians, and Pacific Islanders have different immigration paths, different histories of acceptance or rejection in this country, different myths around our strengths as a people, and different prejudices to overcome. How can we tackle these challenges without an appreciation for our diverse stories?

I am fortunate to be in a professional community of women. The beauty industry is a place where I’m in rooms with powerful women every day. But there is always space for more. More acceptance of non-binary identities. More age diversity. More intersectional diversity in general. And true equity for all. We have to keep pushing.

I appreciate all those who have fought so hard for people like me to have a seat at the table. I am beyond inspired by those who’ve had to star in the role of The First/ The Only fill-in-the-blank. I thank you for your courage and leadership. Now, how do we repeat the process? We’ll all be stronger if there’s more than one of “us” in the room.