🎙️ DEI Spotlight: Mita Mallick
Head of Inclusion, Equity and Impact at Carta | Co-Founder, Brown Table Talk podcast
In This Edition
📖 The power of storytelling in our careers and lives
💜 How DEI collaborates with communications
✏️ Why you should approach learning by studying a new subject
Mita Mallick is a corporate change-maker with a track record of transforming businesses. She gives innovative ideas a voice and serves customers and communities with purpose. She is currently the Head of Inclusion, Equity and Impact at Carta. She was formerly the Head of Inclusion and Cross Cultural Marketing at Unilever. She has had an extensive career as a marketer in the beauty and consumer product goods space. Mallick is a LinkedIn Top Voice, a contributor for Entrepreneur and Harvard Business Review, and her writing has also been published in Adweek, Fast Company and Business Insider.
She is also the co-host of the recently launched the Brown Table Talk podcast, part of the LinkedIn Podcast Network. On the Brown Table Talk, Mita and Dee Marshall share stories and tips on how to help Women of Color win at work, and advice for allies on how they can show up.
How have you made an impact as a storyteller?
The last two-and-a-half years have shown us that our stories can be completely rewritten. I hope that stories can inspire hope and ultimately change.
With my podcast, Brown Table Talk which I started with my friend Dee C. Marshall, it’s about how we can not just have women of color survive in the workplace but thrive. We also talk about what allies can do to help. Talking about stories out loud and saying the quiet parts in public spaces has made a huge impact — people have reached out to tell us their stories because of this.
We decided to launch the podcast because of our stories — we were texting and having late-night conversations about being a woman of color in the spaces we occupied. We recognized there were so many challenges that we were facing and people weren’t talking about it enough. Since starting it, LinkedIn asked us to join their podcast network, which is an incredible honor.
What inspired your current path as Head of Inclusion, Equity, and Impact?
I'm the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. I was raised outside of Boston at a time and in a place where it was not cool to be Indian. I was the dark-skinned girl with a long braid whose parents spoke funny English until it wasn’t funny anymore. My peers made me feel I did not belong — I was bullied mentally and physically.
I never wanted anyone to feel like they didn't belong — it's the most horrible feeling in the world. This experience ultimately inspired my career. Growing up, I didn't see myself reflected in the broader world so I became a storyteller because I wanted to help choose the stories that were shared and who gets featured. This has driven my professional path.
When I was at Unilever, I was asked to take on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the first time. At the time, they had no one leading it and I contributed as a leader in that space. With the diversity tipping point of May 2020, the role of the Chief Diversity Officer has changed so much.
It’s now not only about your workforce, but it’s focused on how your products and services show up in the marketplace. It’s about supporting a broader ecosystem when it comes to organizations you’re funding and the values you’re supporting in the moments that matter — how are you showing up for these communities and how are you being an ally? That’s what really matters and why I do this work.
What is one project you are particularly proud of accomplishing over the years?
Brown Table Talk is my pride and joy. I was motivated to start the podcast because it is really a love letter to my younger self — all the experiences that I had gone through alone in my career. There were the times when I was constantly mistaken for the other brown woman because people didn't want to learn my name or get to know me and the times when people would ask me where I was really from because my English was so great.
There’s something really freeing and human about being able to share all of these everyday aggressions that I faced with the world. This is why I enjoy storytelling — it's healing because you get to write out the pain you've experienced and at the same time, it’s community-building when other people can relate to your story. Discovering that I wasn’t alone makes me really proud of this project. I hope that it helps others in the same way it’s helped me.
What are the skills that are most important for someone to be a storyteller?
I've been writing ever since I could write — it’s because I didn’t have many friends growing up and I turned to writing to express myself.
Today, I write every night for 20 minutes. Most of the time, it’s for me to share something that I’ve been through. But, some pieces that I write end up in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, AdWeek and other publications because I’ve practiced my craft. I make time for the things that are important — writing is my priority. It’s part art and part discipline.
Candidly, I don’t have many hobbies. I have my family and my writing. I’m not baking cupcakes, paddleboarding or skiing — I’m writing! Being published didn’t happen overnight, it’s taken many rejections, but I haven’t stopped trying. You need to be resilient as a storyteller.
The other major piece of storytelling is being authentic and vulnerable. If you aren’t able to do that, the connection isn’t there with your readers. The more that I’ve become comfortable with who I am and my stories, the more that I’m able to share.
Storytelling is also Marketing 101 — not every story is going to relate to everyone, and that is okay. When you can be authentic, you can really connect with your audience.
In your role, how have you partnered with Internal Communications?
I’ve partnered with internal communications at a corporation with 100K employees and at a start-up with 1,200 employees. Each experience has been meaningful and different. While at that larger company, I worked very closely with the internal communications team and helped leaders craft their stories and message to employees. Working at a smaller company, I have a very close relationship with our CEO to help write these messages directly.
The world of work has changed, especially since this pandemic and the rise in racist attacks the past two and a half years. Employees are looking more and more to their employer to be a safe haven and provide them with community. Storytelling is really important in that feeling of belonging. Showing up for people right now matters a lot and being able to send messages where people feel like they are seen and heard is how internal communications and DEI helps. Acknowledging how employees are feeling after tragic events and understanding that people might need some time off — that’s what matters most.
With all that’s happened, there are many stories that people aren’t ready to share yet. Part of my job is coaching leaders to share these moments. When you are thinking about internal communications, what leaders can do differently is talk about how they are feeling about these situations — vulnerability is a superpower.
Leaders can create trust and loyalty by sharing their feelings. People are scared to reveal their connection, but when they do, it inspires others to do the same. I tell leaders to say what’s from their heart — no one is expecting your leader to solve the issue. The worst feeling in the world is for someone to not acknowledge something. The silence is what’s devastating and hurtful.
How do you continue learning?
When I’m not reading Harry Potter with my children, I enjoy reading Fast Company, Inc. Magazine and Harvard Business Review. I love LinkedIn — being a top voice really helps me connect and learn from others in what is truly a platform of generosity.
I find the best way to learn, spark my creativity and become a better storyteller is to learn a subject that I know nothing about. That’s what I’m doing now by writing a profile for Entrepreneur Magazine. I’m telling the story of Marcus Bullock, the CEO of Flikshop, a software company that builds tools to help incarcerated people stay connected to their families and build community. His TED Talk is breathtaking. At 15 years old, a decision he made to carjack somebody sentenced him to eight years in a maximum-security prison.
The one thing that kept him going was his mother who sent him cards and letters to stay optimistic. When he was released from prison, he started a painting and construction business. He used that money to start Flikshop which is about providing hope for people who are incarcerated. Now, I’m spending time learning about justice reform thanks to Marcus’ story.
Thank you for reading The Switchboard. ☎️ Every edition is personally curated by me — Julia Levy. This post is based on a live interview conversation and edited for publication. Learn more about why I write.
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