More Than A Check Box- Receiving the Recognition I Deserve Beyond My Race & Gender

By Reshma Moorthy, CEO of Frontier Technologies Inc

Any woman, especially a woman of color, knows the feeling of stepping into a room full of people who don’t look like her or identify with her. The insecurities and desire to prove yourself is so strong, regardless of whether or not your insecurities match how these people perceive you. 

For years, companies have been known to place women and minorities in leadership positions to diversify their management team. Unfortunately, regardless if this person matches and exceeds the criteria for the role, there will always be the back chatter as to whether or not you as a woman, a woman of color, or a minority in general deserved to be in this position in the first place. 

In 2021, I strongly believe an emphasis on race and gender should be minimized to help give proper credit where it’s due. We should be recognized for our accomplishments and all the hard work that has led to our success. While I strongly acknowledge the challenges women and minorities have endured in the workforce, and believe it’s necessary to recognize it, the struggle many of us face is the desire to be seen beyond that. 

I was 22 years old when I started working for my parents’ company right out of college. I grew up learning all about the tech world and had the privilege of being able to watch my parents’ success, specifically my mom. Little did I know the journey I was about to embark on both personally and professionally. The first time I walked into a room for my first business meeting, I immediately found myself surrounded by older white men. I normally do not notice those things, but I did this time. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a white dominated neighborhood and went to school around predominately white people. This was different. 

Interestingly, what phased me was the deference and respect that the white men gave to each other, and when they looked at me, a young but talented smart woman, they did not give me the time of day. I must admit that I was not necessarily intimidated by it, but I recognized this façade that was playing throughout the room. This situation remained the same as I continued to grow as a female business leader. Being in the technology field, although people think it is heavily staffed with Indians, the real thing you notice is that they are on the backend and are not necessarily noticed or acknowledged for the work they do. The real decision-makers continue to be older, white men. 

In my 15 years of being involved with my business, the stereotypes that I see affect women business owners are gender stereotypes, family demands and lack of help, and social roles. For me, I have  really made it a point to break the glass ceiling on all of these parameters. Imagine a 6’0 tall Indian woman walking into a room full of older white men. When I walk in the room, I command a presence and that is something I have needed to remind myself of to help build the confidence I have today.

I have learned to take pride in who I am and own it to help gain respect. I am outgoing and do know my place. I am now confident enough to know when to stand my ground to show I have earned my position. This is something I have had to work on but now feel is a natural part of who I am. 

For me personally, I have been taught at a young age to break the glass ceiling which has greatly helped shape the leader I have become. I was always told to be proud of who I am, where I came from and never sit in a corner. This is something I strongly hope others can use as a take away when mentoring young women, especially women of color. 

In order to be acknowledged for more than your race and gender, we as women and minorities need to come together to continue to push for acknowledgement solely on our results and success. This conversation needs to continue to be had so we do not have to feel the need to continually prove ourselves time and time again. 

To this day, 9 times out of 10, I am the only female business owner in the room. I feel lucky that I have had the upbringing I’ve had that has instilled such confidence in me from a young age but many women and minorities unfortunately did not grow up this way. If there is anything I want others to take away from my story, it’s to first and most importantly remind yourself that you are deserving of recognition and success. We as women and minorities tend to doubt ourselves and our abilities which leaves the acknowledgement to be more focused on our race and gender. 

Stand up for the work you have done and the journey you have taken that has led to your success. Let’s not just be another check box. 

Reshma Moorthy is the President and CEO of the IT Solutions firm, Frontier Technologies, Inc. She is driven with the purpose of customer value through tech innovation as well as revolutionary and disruptive innovation. Moorthy serves as Chair of the (EMSDC) Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council’s Minority Business Input Committee, where she leverages her talents to serve her community to empower other diverse businesses. She received the Minority Business Advocate of the Year Award from the EMSDC and led her team to receive the Diverse Supplier of the Year Award multiple times.

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