What is Future For Us and how did it come to life?
Future for Us is a platform dedicated to the advancement of women of color (WoC) at work. It came to life when we realized that there’s a huge gap in the market when it comes to opportunities to build community and drive differentiated solution for women of color in the workplace. After speaking at over 100 events in 2018, we saw clear patterns in who was not in the room and at decision making tables.
What does success look like for the company?
Aparna: We want to be the most influential platform for women of color at work, and commit both to advocacy about WoC issues in the workplace and also partner to collect and disaggregate data so we can dive deep into challenges that different groups of WoC face.
We know there's power and value in women of color supporting each other. As two women of color in a male-tech dominated area, how do you feel we can harness this?
Aparna: We are unabashed and unapologetic about our support for other women of color and are committed to amplifying their voices. The only way to bring WoC’s voices to the forefront is by having WoC at every conversation, every table, and in every room. The word support often conjures images of care - dinners, walks, spa, “girl time”. A few years ago, I reframed my relationship to support and asked my friends and fellow WoC leaders to push me professionally, be great accountability partners to get exercise, and include me in opportunities that would help me grow personally.
Your work is tough, to say the least. What do you do for self-care and how important is it for women of color to indulge in it?
Aparna: Sage and I differ slightly in our approach to self-care. But one thing that we agree on, is the importance in finding a balance daily between work and care. When we put hard boundaries on work-time and care-time, we end up creating rules that don’t often work for our lives. So for instance, I will check emails or even schedule a call during vacation. Instead of viewing it as a breach of care-time, I feel balanced and sane coming back from “time-off” without an overfull inbox. That said, self-care is deeply personal. We encourage WoC to seek balance, enlist friends and allies, and build strong routines.
Both of you come from different backgrounds and places. What advice can you offer to others on how our differences can make us stronger as a unit women of color?
Sage: Early in our relationship, we found common ground as women, as people of color, as non-native Seattleites. Our differences are precisely what makes Future for Us a forward-thinking community. Diversity in thought, cultures, backgrounds, and industries that leads to innovation and creativity.
Advocacy through storytelling a special skill set and responsibility. When did you realize it was your calling?
Sage: I knew it was my calling as soon as I started speaking up and people started connecting and admiring me for it. Being an indigenous Native Hawaiian woman, it’s in my blood to be a storyteller. Hawaiians hold storytelling as a sacred practice through traditional chant protocol, songs, and dance. I feel like it’s my calling being in front of a crowd on the stage sharing my story because it feels like home, it feels like Hawai’i and I feel like my ancestors are watching me.
While we are all responsible for contributing to the push for progress and gender equity by undoing all forms of systemic oppression, networks like Future For Us help provide the advancement of women of color through more than one channel. The organization challenges us to rethink inclusion in an effort to cultivate sustainable and impactful diversity.
Cover image: Courtesy of Future For Us, Photography by Jill Chang, Owner of Jill Chang Photography.
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