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ğŸŽ§ Beyond Two Percent: Finance and technology go beyond “intersectionality”

"People go through identity transformations at multiple points in their life. And I think our products don't really allow for a lot of flexibility for that transformation" - Nadia

ğŸŽ§ Beyond Two Percent: Finance and technology go beyond “intersectionality”

"People go through identity transformations at multiple points in their life. And I think our products don't really allow for a lot of flexibility for that transformation" - Nadia

Beyond Two Percent analyzes the critical questions, issues, and dynamics that affect people differently by gender - and the intersection of those dynamics with finance. This week's roundtable focuses on Intersectionality, and we're lucky to be joined by Neepa Patel, Founder and CEO of Themis and Nadia Dugal, Co-Founder of Tome.

You can also find this episode on Apple, Spotify, and all other listening platforms.

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‎Beyond Two Percent: Beyond Two Percent: Finance and technology go beyond “intersectionality” on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Beyond Two Percent, Ep Beyond Two Percent: Finance and technology go beyond “intersectionality” - 16 Feb 2023

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Speakers:

Transcript:

Helen 00:16
This is the beyond 2% podcast and I'm your host Helen, Femi Williams,

Julie 00:20

and I'm your second host, Julie Greenberg, this podcast is brought to you by this week in FinTech, which is the front page of global FinTech news, fostering the largest FinTech community through newsletters, thought leadership, and events.

Helen 00:33

And of course, podcasting. And you might have listened to our other podcast. Hey, FinTech friends. Well, this podcast series is all about women exploring everything from investing to motherhood, to intersectionality, and so much more.

Julie 00:47
And we encourage you to give us feedback on the topics you think we should be discussing

Julie 01:09

And if we were specifically talking about FinTech, the industry could benefit from more women at any level, because women in general have not typically been in the spotlight as a target audience for financial products and services. They're an underserved customer segment with a massive unmet need.

Julie 01:34
And that's why this podcast is called Beyond 2%.

Helen 01:37
There is a world of tech-driven financial products and services that is yet to be discovered

because of the lack of women leaders in this space

Julie 01:45
and through group discussions with leaders in these spaces. This is what we want to explore.

Helen 01:50
This episode is all about intersectionality,

Julie 01:57

And thank you to our sponsors in New York City FinTech women, FinTech woman's mission is to connect, promote, and empower women to advance their careers. They need help from everyone if we're going to make a real change, encouraging male allies to become members and come to our events. Membership is free. And you can sign up at NYC FinTech women.com and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Nadia is the co-founder and Chief Legal Officer of Tome. Previously, as the most active venture capital lawyer in the world, Nadia was a leader at Flourish Ventures, the Omidyar Network, 500 Startups, and was an attorney at various corporate law firms. She is also an educator on venture deals for Berkeley Law and the National Venture Capital Association, and advises numerous venture capital funds. She graduated with honors from Georgetown University and the New York University School of Law. Consensus in the world of technology and venture capital is that she dresses even better than Zendaya.

Helen 02:52

Neepa is the Founder and CEO of Themis - a governance, risk and compliance platform to help banks and fintechs collaborate on compliance information. Formerly she was an OCC Bank Regulator during the credit crisis, the Head of Compliance at a Fintech and a Compliance Officer at Morgan Stanley / Deutsche. She's been on all sides of the compliance equation and now wants to help fintechs build an automated compliance framework.

Hi, guys, thank you so much for joining us. I think this can be a really interesting conversation because I think the concept of intersectionality is so nuanced and different to a large extent, what even is that?

Which I think is a good question within itself? So I mean, I kind of looked at the dictionary definition of like, what intersectionality is, is the theory that the overlap of various social identities such as race, gender, sexuality, class, contributes to a system of oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual, but that's sort of the dictionary definition. And I'm curious, actually, Neepa and Nadia, like what it means to you. So I think that's a good place to start, um, Neepa. What does intersectionality mean to you? Or does it mean anything to you?

Neepa 04:07

Yeah, so to be honest, I had no idea what that term meant. So I had to google it, as well. But after I learn more about it, it totally makes sense. It's basically living a robust life in which in where my identities complement each other, right? So I'm a woman, I'm a founder, I'm from Georgia. I'm a granddaughter, I'm a friend, and it's where one part of your identity complements another part of your identity and hopefully, in a positive way, but I'm assuming in reality, we're discussing this today, because it's actually having a negative effect. All identities that are around you are actually weighted down by other factors that actually might be providing a negative outcome to different things in your life.

Helen 04:51

Yeah, I think that's an interesting perspective. I don't, personally, I don't necessarily feel like it needs to be negative, but I think it's like when you work in a certain industry.You want to make sure that it's inclusive. And you're taking, you're bringing everybody on board. And I think in a lot of spaces where the people are creating things or making things, it cannot be exclusive, just due to like the way things are created, or who's behind them, who's behind the products or things that are being created. And maybe sometimes intersectionality is not taken into consideration, because people will make things out or people think of themselves when they create stuff. Nadia, I'm curious, what does intersectionality mean to you? Like, is it a term that you feel you connect with or not? Do you think it's important to think about? I'm just curious,

Nadia 05:42

yeah, so intersectionality means to me that, we have to acknowledge that there is complexity to the identity that we have. So it comes from a lot of properties, right? Like, you know, Neepa is from Georgia. But there are also properties that create circumstances or other. And so I look at myself as a trans woman, but also, as a second generation Indian, also as a person of colour in the US, also as someone who lives in the Middle East. And then there's also income, background, political beliefs. And the interesting, interesting aspect about intersectionality is that, you know, we look at a lot of affinity groups that provide support. So if you're part of an LGBT group, or say, a South Asian group of people who try to support each other, these can often be very monolithic entities. You know, when I go to meet with, say, other trans people, just because we're all trans doesn't mean all the best friends, I bring it with it a lot of different experiences. And when we have these monolithic properties that flattens people into one dimension, and so it's really important to me, because although that, although I'm trans, I'm actually pretty conservative. In the same vein, like, you know, even though I'm trans, that doesn't mean that I'm necessarily a religious or agnostic or atheist, I'm actually Sikh. And so and you might find that in like California and Silicon Valley, following a religion might, you know, also have its own complications because people look down on that, too. And so, there's a tremendous complexity to it. And I find that it's really important to me, because it informs a lot of the relationships that I generate, I generate relationships with people who don't really reduce me to this one flat concept, but they appreciate complexity and are open to a lot of, you know, people in whatever shape way and form they come.

Helen 08:12

I think you brought up a lot of like, it's not necessarily like one thing means like, this is you and this who you are, and like, that's what connects you, but you kind of are recognising and I think that is what the theory is about, like recognising that all these things make up like Neepa and Nadia, but I think it is interesting, like you're talking kind of about, like, you know, being like second generation Indian and, and these types of things, because it's like, you start to see it when you see small things like how someone's name is or you know, how someone does their hair like intersectionality kind of like, starts that starts to come in, like even the other day. I was at a work event, and someone was like, Can I touch your hair, which for me is like a black woman. I'm like, are we still doing this up in 2022? Like, do you know me and having these conversations and I'm like, I'm literally at work like, no, like, I don't necessarily feel like it's a novelty. Or I also don't feel like it's appropriate. And but then this person is offended where I'm like, No, I have to explain to you why I just don't think it's an appropriate question. And that's something that I feel like, as a black woman, that to me, it's something I could speak to another black woman and we'd be like, have the same story. Do you know what I mean?

So I think there is I think for everyone sort of nuances even that they're so new ones that everyone has like a sort of story or a thing that happens within their community, but then equally, just because I'm a black woman doesn't necessarily mean that I have the same experiences as someone else.

But I want to kind of like circle towards like FinTech specifically because I was actually thinking about it this morning. I think I've got a very English name. So if you saw my name you would think I was, a lot of the time people think I'm a white woman, actually, if it's just aHelen Williams, but how can we kind of make products more accessible? or products or things we're building within FinTech more accessible for intersectionality? I think I find a lot with like, for instance, my trans friends, they find that quite difficult navigating changing their names or, or people you know, it doesn't it's not always the same, or even like AI systems, a lot of them have the voices of women, which is kind of reinforcing, like gender stereotypes. So you know, you guys are building you guys are in FinTech. And I'm just curious, basically, how can we kind of ensure that when we're creating inclusive products?

Neepa 10:56

in my former career, like career as a regulator. And this would come up a lot when banks were just primed by providing financial products, right, like, they use a lot of AI. And a lot of the AI is skewed towards its disadvantage. It's a disadvantage to like the minorities and things. So I think it's just people building these tools. We're not doing anything AI related, but I feel like AI is a lot of, they take a lot of data from historical metrics. And those are not always the most accurate metrics to help you lead to communities that are of colour or low income. And so I do think people that are in that, that business should also think about, hey, if we're using AI, we're using historical data, we need to make sure that it's not flawed for the future of like the people that we want to do business with. But I also think regulations come into play here, too. A lot of regulations, they require you to do credit checks on your customers. So it's not only FinTech, like innovation, but it's also the regulatory, the regulatory regulatory things that happen. A lot of times, it's like, oh, you have to have this credit score and a lot and people can't have that credit score. If you're an immigrant, you're not gonna have the same credit score as somebody that was born in America that had a credit card in high school or credit card in college. So things like that. I think everyone needs to be more mindful of just how is this disadvantaging someone look at your current customers and group them together? Like, Hey, why do why are all my customers? Why do they have the same attribute? Maybe there's something wrong in our algorithm. So I think it's just being self aware, being aware of what you're building with what we're doing. What Themis is, actually, it's a collaboration tech platform for any fintech. It's actually shouldn't even be just for fintech. It can be any regulated industry. We actually we sell products to a company that has five people or a company that has 2000 People like to us it makes no it doesn't make a difference. But I think more of the biases come in and hiring people. I think that's also a big thing. When people hire, generally a type of person, a lot of those influential characteristics of that certain group of people go into the product. So I think it's hiring a diverse team is key.

Helen 13:13

Yeah, no, I think you made some really good points there. There's so many different aspects, you know, you have to kind of, you can't just hit the nail on one hand, you have to hear at regulation, you have to hear hiring, there's so many different aspects, and everyone's kind of involved. What do you think Nadia? Like, is there kind of something we need to be doing when it comes to kind of the creation of products or services in FinTech to kind of include intersectionality

Nadia 13:36

I find that even the basics are so bad. So I changed my name earlier this year. And, you know, man, oh, man, has it been difficult to actually get, you know, things like I updating my slack account to my new email address, at one point at two slack accounts, because it just didn't have the ability to understand that someone might change their name and their email address. It's like these basic things.

People don't even have a trend, like people can change their name for many reasons like I also for what it's worth, like, hated my hated my last name. So like, I, you know, people, you know, they might change their name. People go through identity transformations at multiple points in their life. And I think our products don't really allow for a lot of flexibility for that transformation. And so, when I think about FinTech specifically, I think of what surprisingly one company specifically that was pretty good about it was, I had called American Express to , tell them that I changed my name. And before they, I was even able to say it, they were like, Oh, what is your preferred name, as if they anticipated the call coming? And then I like to think that they have transaction data from the was 20 years of using their credit cards dealers. And so, it's interesting how people can analyse the data of usage data to determine, you know, what are likely steps people take. And this can be used to better anticipate what their needs are. And so the American Express, it was like, What's your preferred name? This is my name, okay. Like, nothing else is needed. Like, they wanted, like my new identification, which is easy. And like, so I uploaded it, and then I got my new credit card, like, you know, overnighted, they were really easy. They were also like, congratulations and stuff like that. And so there are ways to create happy pads in your products for people to feel like, they can come at them in any way shape and form, or sad pads, or it makes it like, you know, am I, you know, am I going to not use Slack? Because they didn't let me change? My name easily No, but like, it's an incredibly frustrating user experience. And also it feels exclusionary, And so I think products, in general can be really a lot better at these basic things, and they're just not. And there's, there's a failure to understand. Like, there's this assumption, right? And there is this assumption, assumption in credit underwriting that, because a trans woman, I probably can't buy this, like, lovely dress, that cost me maybe a little bit more than what someone in my anticipated income bracket should be making. You know, that's where that's kind of the under like, the dirty underside of how we fail to appreciate that. And it's funny to watch, you know, we have these assumptions in our basic everyday interactions. But we also get these assumptions in their products that we use.

Julie 17:00

It's really interesting to think about, you know, we look back 30 years ago, and we used to have things like, Oh, if you go in person, whether you're a black person, or you're a woman and you apply for credit, or you want to rent an apartment or something, you're gonna get a worse deal given that. And you think, being able to use AI and all this data and not having to be face to face with someone where they could judge, you would kind of remove some of that you're like, Oh, you're just letting the bots handle it. But now the bots are the ones that are judging us a fair amount as well. Do either of you think that there comes a point where we could get rid of this? Or is this just always going to be something it might get better, but there's never going to be a judge free society or a judge free? You know, bot process or anything?

Nadia 17:50
I'm approaching this on the interpersonal level, one person by one person, it's a lot easier for me to appreciate the complexity and to make a decision about that person. But when I try to scale this, a lot of my decisions will be statistically driven. And so like, Okay, is it unfair to judge that Nadia, you know, might, okay, she's a trans woman, she probably has maybe incredibly liberal political leanings is a religious and her income bracket is this, you know, it's incredibly unfair, but at the same time, what if the statistics are largely bear this out, right. And it's kind of like a, almost like a guilty and you're truly you're proven innocent, like, you have to prove that you're like, different than the other ways before they acknowledge that. I, I feel like I'm constantly at friction between like, commercial pneus and rightness. And the right thing to do is I acknowledge that people come at this with, you know, different, many different properties. But if I'm a if I'm a lender, like, my margins are so tight, I make one mistake about this demographic, you know, suddenly, you know, I'm not making money on this customer or this cohort of customers. And if okay, then maybe we create, like a special lender just for, you know, trans women or, you know, women of this category. But we make wrong generalisations there, we're also like, you know, we can't be profitable. And so I, I don't, I'm not optimistic about this changing just because I don't know how commercial enterprises can be profitable. making these decisions at scale, while also appreciating the incredible complexity that everybody brings to the table.

Helen 19:48

Yeah, I think you touched on a really good point, because in a lot of ways, when you think of fintechs, or like startups in general, they're like solving a very specific problem. And we've we've kind of seen this emergence of like P people or companies being like, the issue right here is something so specific, I'm going to solve it. . And I guess that's kind of my question like, how, how do we navigate between being mindful and aware, and being sensitive to like people's differences, and like the fact that everyone on this call has so many different things about them that makes you like Julie Neepa and Nadia, and having at the same time, efficiency, and getting things done, and making sure that actually, we're not getting so complicated that we don't solve the issue . Do we need everything to be the same? Like, is it good that we're kind of differentiating so much? Does that make sense? \

Neepa 21:02

I'm trying to think of like real examples. And I guess one is fundraising. And now, I'd love to hear your take on how fundraising went for you. But like just fundraising starting a company, I think I had every negative like, forget, like, even just being a South Asian woman. I mean, we all know the stats with women funding, it's like, what less than 2%. But on top of that, I was a sole founder, which is negative first time founder, negative non technical founder of a SASS company, negative non Ivy League, like I had every probably red flag that anyone can imagine. And I think people are like, oh, you know what, it's nice to say, let's provide more funding to women, let's do a lot of this. Let's get more women investors. But in reality, even having more women investors now hasn't changed the status that much having more VCs focused on minorities, or certain, I guess it certain groups like I don't even think that's helped. So I actually don't know the answer. But I don't think a lot that we've done now. I mean, I think it's a positive direction. But I don't think it's been very impactful. And so I don't know if it's just we need more time. Or we need more people like me and Nadia to start companies.

Julie 22:27
a chicken and an egg thing to like, a lot of people won't have the confidence to do it until people like you and Nadia succeed. So it's like, which one ends up coming first.

Neepa 22:37

Exactly. And I could also see the pressure on let's say, You're a woman investor that just got into the VC world, or if you're a new fund that is focused on a certain, like, a certain group that you're selling to you, you also want to prove to everybody that like, Hey, we're going to we're going to make it we're good. See, we don't care, but they also are going to look at metrics, right? They're gonna be like, well, we're going to be more conservative, because we need to also prove ourselves that these bets we're making are like the strong bets. Whereas let's say a male that's investing in females, which is the company that I started. It's like, oh, we already have four wins, we could take a risk on this one.

Julie 23:32
Nadia, what about you?

Nadia 23:33

Well, I wanted to start with one thing, which is, I think one way in which products can be better, can better approach intersectionality is appreciating that it's just being more open. And people are other in ways that I can possibly imagine. And it's not necessarily in like, the most typical ways you see in society. It's also like, you know, I know for instance, Helen one issue in the UK will actually initially the UK right now is that for some reason, people are obsessed with, you know, trans women like being, you know, sexual predators. And I'm kind of like, we're, one percent of the population I don't think we're going into the bathrooms to be sexual predators.

But also, youknow, it's it's also you know, there's there's probably anti semitism you know, if you're Jewish in the UK, it's, it's really difficult sometimes to be even open about your religious beliefs. And I think that's incredibly sad. I think when you look at someone just face to face in the street, there's an assumption like, okay, maybe this, this person could be like a white male and therefore they have tonnes of privilege and power. But you know, you don't really know what they brought to it. Like you don't know what their upbringing is. You don't know what how they've been. You don't know what they've experienced.

You know, a lot of people tend to look down on people who don't speak English well and think they're not intelligent. And so I actually think that everybody, like suffers from being flattened in this way. And I wish that you know, we're more open generally.

And that also probably isn't my experience, you know, people you asked about my experiences, fundraising, honestly, like a lot of sales and fundraising for Tome, have been dependent on my network and , my co founder, and to be honest with you, like a lot of my network, I built and cultivated prior to transitioning, so I came at it with the privilege of a South Asian, cis heterosexual male. And so, and my goodness, was that privilege a man like a, you know, like, we feel virtually unstoppable in Silicon Valley. And so like, you know, people, it's so like, I actually saw I had transitioned after, or before we had fundraise. And actually, that was my co founder. After I transitioned, I transitioned.

And so when I came out, they're like, welcome. And I will say that, since I've transitioned, there has been a tremendous amount of support for me, just as a person in the community, I haven't suffered a single act of at least blatant discrimination or, or I've encountered,

And so, I don't know, I find that it's been an incredibly welcoming experience. But I also know, like, this is just like, unique to me. Like, I know that people suffer a lot of friction in what they do in fundraising and sales.

And I find this incredibly troubling. And I wonder what's going on. And even frankly, among like, diversity focused VCs, I find this is where intersectionality really kind of butts its head. Because when you meet a diversity focus,, they have a very specific way in which to define like, how you must be diverse. And in some ways, those can be really like oppressive. And so it's kind of funny, like I been, I feel rejected from more diversity focus funds than I have from , you know, specifically diversity mandate mandated funds. It's also purely because in many cases, you don't come at this for the kind of diversity that we want.

Julie 28:20

Interesting yet, when we talk to Jillian from Cowboy Ventures she mentioned like they obviously are mostly females on the investing team. And I don't believe they have a mandate, but they do say it's something they keep in mind. Not necessarily always with investing, but with hiring, because they are building out their team is like, okay, like, we only have I think like one male on our team, we might want to make sure we hire another male next time versus hiring another female. And it's, it's weird how, like you, you want to try to diversify, but you also don't want to like, purposely sway too far the other way. There's, it gets so complicated, so quickly.

So I'm glad you brought up that, that aspect of it. And I think just like staying in touch with your entire workforce, and making sure that no one feels like they're excluded or anything too. So it's not even just hiring them.

Nadia 29:18

like one time I was looking for a job with this. I was interviewing at a venture fund. That's well known for for, for being diverse and hiring diverse people. It's quite famous for that. And I was told by a friend when I was interviewing, like, Yeah, you're a trans woman, but like, your, your South Asian. So like, that already puts you at a disadvantage. And I was kind of like, shocked to hear that. I'm like that is so that actually really like, you know, now I'm excluded because of this other factor of diversity. And there's no question whatsoever about how that might have impacted my upbringing.

You know, my accent was made fun of me. When I was growing up, I was one called Gandhi as a child in my neighbourhood, and I lost friends because of that, even though it sounds like a compliment, but like, I have had teachers like, you know, make fun of me in a classroom for the way I talk, like, these things impact you. And I don't understand how just because I'm South Asian, I should no longer be considered as part of a conversation

Neepa 30:20

sometimes I think about this, I'm like, sometimes just talking about, like, pushing diversity metrics, sometimes is that a good thing or a bad thing? Like there's, there's times where people push diversity metrics, and they're like, alright, we have to have a female, we have to do this like, and then they'll put females in positions that they're not ready for. And so that also is kind of like a negative, like, everyone's like, Oh, she's there, because she's a female. And that's what we don't want to do. We want to be like, Oh, that person's in that position. Because she deserves it. She's smart. And that's kind of where I also see a problem where people are getting promoted, maybe, or getting these amazing jobs. And it's like, you're, you're pushing them to the finish line, but you're not giving them the resources to be successful in that role. So I think that's one thing that companies can do better, like, yes, you should maybe look at there should be more than a woman candidate, or a diverse or a black candidate. But it's also like, you need to support them and give them the tools to make sure they're successful, that they're not just a diversity hire, because that's also offensive. I think

Helen 31:24

something else you touched on that is kind of, I think, organisations and I think there's, there's a lot of organisations and VCs and all these things that are solving specific problems. But, you know, when you think about intersectionality, is the process of kind of having more than one sort of identity. So, you know, if you're trans or you're a person of colour, or even I know, Julie's pregnant, for instance, you know, being a mother and being a woman and all these things, it's like, I sometimes feel like organisations or things are, they're solving one problem, it's like, let's solve the gender problem or the lack of black people in this organisation etc. But I think maybe the issue there is, how do we navigate it so that we're not just solving one problem, and kind of ensuring that people can bring their whole selves to work. And it's not just a specific issue, because we're not specific issues, or we're not just one identity, I don't know if you have any thoughts on how we can solve that and basically saying, solve the world and solve the world's problems.

Nadia 32:28

Yeah, I battle against this personally, that like mentally, all the time, this concept of bringing your whole self to work and what that actually means. I like to think that because, you know, we're co-founders and co-founders of the company, you know, I'm trans women of colour, we have an easier time hiring diverse people. And that's totally true. I mean, people when they see a co founder at the top, who is diverse, they are more I think I'm more likely to work for them, you know, if it's, if it's not the case, and so, but what I've also found is that I find diversity to be a much more complicated conversation than just the skin that you wear.

And you know, what your sexual preferences are, when our genuine identity is,. I think there's political diversity. And I'm often troubled at this cause I feel like sometimes, especially in Silicon Valley, companies can be so monolithic on on political spectrums, even where people who have different political beliefs might feel oppressed.

And I think we all forget that we live in the United States of America, like, you know, we have the freedom to believe, you know, you know, to vote to, you know, this the beauty of our system, right, like, I find that that's the most one of the most important aspects of our country, but election a lot of time that I spend a lot time to instil Silicon Valley, you know, people without the predominant prevailing political belief, affiliation feel oppressed themselves. And so when people talk about bringing their whole selves to work, I'm kind of like, well, what does that mean? Like? Does that mean that you can, that you can be very pronounced with your political beliefs to the point where other people feel uncomfortable? Because I actually think that maybe that's not a good thing. And maybe there's a place for one form of expression versus the other. Again, I don't have any answers to this. It's it's a problem that I confront every day as a leader at my company where I'm kind of like, what do I want to promote here? And when I hire someone, you can bet that I'm considering the whole person. And my view personally is like, if you if you are bad at your job, I will fire you. Like I don't care where you're from, or what your skin colour is. I will like if you're just bad at your job, I will fire you. If you're good at your job. I will promote you and what I can do for you to make this environment more inclusive for you as well. Whole Person is I'll give you every confidence that you need to know that I support you. Like, I'll give you all the resources you need, I will empower you to the nth degree to do your job well, regardless of who you are. But I, like Anita said, like I sometimes worry in organisations like decisions are made for other other factors that don't believe actually promote the cause as well.

Helen 35:22

Yeah, I think you made a good point. And it is interesting as she was talking, as they are sort of reflecting on like, what does that even mean to me like bringing my whole self to work. And in maybe in my previous roles and stuff, I don't think I brought my whole self to work. But I also don't think I felt comfortable doing that. But I also didn't work with anybody that looked like me that had my social background that had anything like that. But then I also kind of look around, and I reflected that organisation and the kind of people I was working with, and that they could bring their selves to work, because they all came from the same background, and had the same sort of ideas and identities. So I'm the only one not bringing myself to work because they're all absolutely comfortable. And if they want to, like, go play rugby on the weekend, like, I'm not involved, there was a lot of things that I feel like even the culture of, you know, work that can be quite isolating. If, you know, I'm not saying you need to go in and tell everybody your life story. But equally, where is the cutoff line where if someone doesn't have the same background as you, then they're excluded.

But when I was looking at intersectionality, that, like, honestly, race and gender were not the only things that came up, education came up, citizenship came up, which I think is a really important one, like the privilege of citizenship is something in society that really gives you an advantage , which allows you to travel also wealth, housing, body size, mental health, sexuality, parenthood. So like, personally, I feel like that's, that's what it means to me. s,

Neepa 37:08

this is more of a funny story. But it was one of my friends that I went to Georgia Tech also started a company. He's South Asian male. And he came similar to me, like we were both like we both did finance, we have no technical background. And he was able to raise a lot more than me. And I'm like how, like, you have the same background? How are you? He's like, Oh, I'm a South Asian male. They just assumed I like knew how to code. And I'm like, Man, I was like, that's not fair.

So it's just like, also, like, it's just people should be kind of open. But you know, just because you see somebody looked like a certain way. It's like, exactly kind of what you just said, it's you don't know how they were brought up. You don't know what their skill sets are. You don't know what kind of family they came from.

Helen 37:56

The thing is, it's normal to have biases. And like, even if you guys hire people in your company, you're gonna have a bias because you're human being like, we all do it. But I guess sometimes it's like, how do you navigate that bias and make sure it's not clouding judgment, which is really difficult. Like, I think we all struggle with it.

Nadia 38:21

So when you've experienced it yourself, you kind of understand how to cultivate processes that can be more inclusive and more open. So I'll give you an example of this. Like, I, you know, I interviewed at a company that didn't negotiate salaries once our way back because they thought that would be more inclusive. So they refused to negotiate salaries as a means of being more inclusive, like, we can make it equal for men and women to have the same salaries. If they don't negotiate, blah, blah. And then I didn't negotiate my salary.

And then after I joined the company, I found out that Oh, no, people were still negotiating their salaries, they just didn't take no for an answer. And so there was still rank, like rampant discrepancies. And actually even more exaggerated because there were people who just didn't even bother.

Helen 39:23

I just kind of want to touch on that point about salaries. Because I think if you're from an industry, we mean, Julie did an episode a couple of weeks ago about investing. And if you come from a background of investing like your parents were investing or something like that, then you you you kind of you know, it's something that was talked about, it was something that maybe you were talking around the dinner table about. It's something that you know, is just everyday life, and I think kind of salaries, negotiating salaries, for instance, is a good example of that. But also if you're the first of your family member in such an industry, you don't know how to navigate it. You don't really know how to have those conversations.. And I think that's kind of the point where some people decided to kind of take no for an answer and still push it. Whereas other people, it's like, well, the institution said, x is what's happening. So you, so you just go with that. And I think that does kind of talk into a lot of like, you know, your background and how you're not necessarily how you were raised. But if you don't know, how would you? How would you know to negotiate your salary? Or how would you know that this is the industry standard of what you should be paid? You're just going off what everyone has told you? So I think that's a really good point. Yeah. I don't know if you if you wanted to add anything, just before we?

Julie 40:36
Yeah, I guess like, if you guys had if you guys had like one piece of advice for someone that's trying to improve on this, what would it be?

Neepa 40:43

I tried to do this at the company that we started here is, when you're hiring, somebody don't just look at what they did before that role, look at what skill set they have, that's transferable to a new role. And I tried to do that, like somebody that might not be a pure operations person, I'm like, but they did customer success, and they have this skill set. But so they can probably do operations. So I try to use their skill set more than what their role was at their previous companies to make the decision on like, what they should be doing. So I think that's it, like, just be more open minded. And even me, I mean, I'm a compliance officer for 15 years, who thought like, compliance officers or not CEOs or entrepreneurs. And so I think it's just there's a lot of skill sets that you learn as a compliance officer that were very transferable into starting a company that no one would ever think about. So

Nadia 42:11

Neepa talks about being open. And I think that's, that's right there. Like it's so it's so important. And it's not just with respect to other, but also people who are similar to us. When I go into interviews, I never assume that just because we share an idenity that our experiences are the same. I never actually specifically t try to relate to them on on this a personal level.

I think they're, when we see people who look like us, or who act like us, we think that they must have born the same experiences. But that's not the same, that's not the case. And so it's, it's I'm able to appreciate when I see when I meet someone who is very different than me, because it's very easy for me not to make assumptions and kind of go with it. But it's actually the most challenging to discard assumptions, when you meet someone who seem that they might be pretty similar to you. And you have to kind of not if resist the temptation to not to reduce them into the person that you think might be most likely and therefore you're biassed towards that person.

Helen 43:50

I think that's a really good point. Like, how do you take into consideration but you also don't want to? You don't want to just relate just because like oh yeah, like this is also a black woman. So it's Yeah, so like, there's other things you know, about us. We're so complicated and complex. And I think that's something that both of you have, have have kind of demonstrated today. You know what I mean? Like, that's how I sort of see intersectionality so I'm glad you guys see it, too. It's not about like reducing it to your identities. It's more about like, we are so complex. So let's, let's kind of bear that in mind. But like that doesn't need to necessarily be the driving factor of our interactions. Um, so thank you so much for joining us on Beyond 2%. I've really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you guys. I'm going to thank you guys so much.H

Neepa 44:38
Yeah, and thank you for teaching us what the word meant. I mean, I I've never heard this word before this. So thanks for even just like telling everyone about it.

Nadia 44:45
Yeah, thank you. I thanks for having me.

Helen 44:50

Honestly, that was such an interesting conversation. And it was really interesting for me how each pass seemed kind of tackled the same questions in such different way. And, you know, I always feel like it's a bit of a privilege to kind of look at the lens of these things through different people's eyes. So on the next episode of beyond 2%, you know, it's gonna be a wrap-up episode. And we're bringing men into the conversation. All our panels so far have had women, but we feel like it's also important to kind of ask the same questions to, you know, 50% of the population, who also are important when it comes to the gender gap, and like how we can solve those problems. So we're gonna be talking about all the things we've talked about so far, including motherhood investing, building a career as a female, VC, Angel Investing, and of course, intersectionality, we're going to kind of pose those same questions to men, how they can get involved, what they can do, and yes, they get on them and, you know, have some accountability. Okay, that was such an interesting episode. And what I really enjoyed about that episode was just how different everyone took the questions and kind of seeing the same topics through different people's lens. And I think that was kind of the whole point of what we wanted to do. So on the next episode, it actually wraps up our season four be on 2%. And the next episode is going to be a little bit different from what we've seen in the past. So what we're actually going to have is a male panel, and we're going to be asking the male panel to kind of get involved with the topics and questions we've posed so far. So we're gonna be talking to them about motherhood, investing, building a career as a female VC, Angel Investing, and of course intersectionality and we're going to be asking, you know, where they need to get involved what they can do, and have some accountability for men. So tune in next month. I'm really excited to have that conversation.