How Women of Color Can Drive Corporate Transformation

Deepa Purushothaman was one of the youngest people and the first Indian American woman to make partner in Deloitte’s history. But having ascended high up the corporate ladder, she realized that her work life wasn’t working. It took conversations with more than 500 other women of color leading in the workplace to clarify her next steps and make the tough choice to leave her role. In her new book, The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America (Harper Business, 2022), she explores her own experience as a “first,” shares stories from a host of women of color about their work experiences, and provides insight and guidance on how leaders can drive equity in their organizations. Deborah Milstein, associate editor at MIT SMR, recently spoke with Purushothaman about her book and her work. What follows is an edited and condensed version of their conversation.

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