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Lawyer, Tech Co-Founder Mandy Price on Successes, Lessons, Obstacles & Diversity

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Mogul Mindset

Mandy Price, a Harvard-educated attorney, gave up her legal profession to co-found Kanarys Inc., a tech firm that offers the tools, data, and standards necessary to bring about long-lasting, systemic reforms for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Kanarys also tracks and measures the impact of these essential elements on business.

Since the beginning of your career, how has the corporate world changed?

I have witnessed a good movement in DEI since the beginning of my career, and as someone who has devoted their entire life to this job, it is comforting to know that businesses all over the nation are making DEI a business priority.

A recent survey found that 83% of Gen Z candidates felt a company's commitment to diversity and inclusion is crucial when choosing an employer, demonstrating that DEI is a priority for younger generations and underrepresented workers.

What challenges have you encountered?

The financial divide that exists for founders of color, particularly women, is one of the challenges I've encountered. In the first quarter of 2022, all female-founded teams earned 2.0% of venture money, down from 2.2% in 2021, and Black and Latinx female founders raised less than 1% of venture capital, according to the Q1 2022 PitchBook NVCA Venture Monitor.

What training, education, or experiences best equipped you?

When I assisted in founding the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT-Austin, my interest in DEI was piqued early on. In the end, this fueled my enthusiasm for diversity, equity, and inclusion and resulted in the founding of our company. By giving businesses the framework, benchmarking, and data they need to integrate best-in-class DEI into every aspect of their organization, Kanarys transforms the way DEI work is done.

What has aided you the most in your professional life?

I've discovered that you need a ton of persistence and guts to succeed as an entrepreneur since things can seem insurmountable at times. This has greatly aided me in maintaining my faith in myself, our team, and our idea of the workplace of the future.

Which piece of advice is the worst?

One of the worst bits of advice is to urge people to "keep your head down and work hard," especially if they are underrepresented. Companies need to look at their policies and programs to make sure they can remove current barriers so that minority employees can succeed and develop in their careers.

What is anything you wish you had known sooner?

I wish I had known sooner that my co-founders and I would wait three years before taking a salary. When launching a business, it could take some time before you can count on a steady stream of money. My business suggestion is to save and budget for that.

What guidance do you have for others?

I counsel everyone to look after their mental health and to provide the same compassion to themselves as they do to others. I tell them to keep their vision and objective in mind at all times.

What is the largest error you observe women making in terms of job advancement?

Businesses have the power to restructure flawed systems and must act as change agents. They must encourage women at work and allow them the flexibility they may require to care for their families and children.

To level the playing field and increase the number of women in first-level management, they must review the policies and procedures surrounding their promotion processes.

Businesses must also address the unique difficulties and barriers faced by Black women in the workplace in order to effectively support them. Companies must ensure that they are focused on the intersectionality of many identities while evaluating their employees' experiences in the workplace.

What did you learn this year that you found most intriguing or helpful?

In the past year, I've come to realize how important it is to extend grace and compassion to both you and your coworkers. I lost my mother last summer, and being at work during such a trying time was incredibly helpful.

People's mental health has been severely impacted by the pandemic, and I've learnt how to address it with our colleagues. I've had to ensure my team is given holistic care in order for them to perform at their best. I've also come to realize that sometimes moving quickly requires moving slowly.

What obstacles do you consistently face? What methods are you employing to get past that?

Since there is a financial gap for founders of color, particularly women, it has been challenging to raise VC capital. Crunchbase reports that in 2019 venture capital dollars invested in firms with all-female founding teams reached a record high of 3.4% before falling to 2.3% in 2020.

Because venture capital is a network-based industry that relies on personal connections, the ecosystem doesn't always make place for women and minorities founders.

According to our research, VCs tend to focus more on hopes, successes, advancement, and ideals when speaking with male entrepreneurs. Women business owners, however, are asked more prevention-related questions that are concerned with security, responsibility, and alertness.

A query about promotion leads to a promotion answer, while a question about prevention leads to a prevention answer. In order to build confidence with VCs, we therefore ready ourselves by arming ourselves with data and practicing turning "prevention" queries into "promotion" answers.

How do you cultivate your own personal brand?

I have made it my life's work to assist businesses in stepping up and bringing about change from within in order to create a more varied and inclusive society as a whole. I am dedicated to building a world where the next generation feels included and empowered to be themselves in the workplace.

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