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Retaining Authenticity with Mita Mallick, "Brown Table Talk" Host and Carta Head of Impact

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

This is the Authentic Avenue podcast cover for Retaining Authenticity with Mita Mallick, "Brown Table Talk" Host and Carta Head of Impact

This is a link you can use to find Authentic Avenue, a marketing podcast hosted by Adam Conner, on Apple Podcasts. Remember to subscribe, rate, and review!

Today, I interview Mita Mallick, who is a general powerhouse. She's the cohost of Brown Table Talk, a fantastic podcast offering advice and leadership lessons to women of color. She's also the Head of Inclusion, Equity, and Impact at Carta. Finally, she is a prolific content creator, having been included in LinkedIn's inaugural Creator Accelerator program.

Today we talk about how to retain your authenticity even after a return to office, the reasons why great brand storytellers sometimes aren't great personal storytellers, allyship, and more.

Enjoy! Full transcript below. Enjoy the video version right here:


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TRANSCRIPT BELOW (powered by Descript; accuracy not guaranteed):

Adam Conner: Hi, everybody. We are back. I've got an really interesting conversation and you know why it's interesting to me because frankly, I both don't know a ton about it and am not part of the audience that's been deeply affected by it, but I am part of the audience that needs to learn a lot more.

I'm talking about that whole world of DEI inclusion, equity impact. I got somebody here. That's the head of all of that for Carta. You probably know her. This is somebody who's been talked about on the podcast beforehand. If you all remember the episode with Callie Schweitzer on LinkedIn, I said, who's the first person needs to talk to next.

And she said Mita Mallick. So, Mita Malick. welcome. Thank you for being here.

Mita Mallick: How are you much for having me? Callie's the kindest person for recommending me.

Adam Conner: I was jazzed to have her on as well, because she knows so much more than me and frankly, I was like, oh, so cool. She knows a lot more people than I do too. So I was like, wow.

Even get her in the room was like, awesome. And then I was like, well, then I got to have your, your a list. Who do I talk to next? She was like, me to me to me. I said, okay. Wow. When we weave, which added a little bit prior to this. And so that's how we know what we're talking about. You told me, you gave me a quote during that, which you probably say a lot.

You said our stories are constantly being. That's true for me professionally, personally, I could think of a bunch of ways. Um, you've done a couple of things recently, which is rewriting your story. We're gonna talk about brown table talk in a second, which is rewriting chapter of it. What's the story. Look for you like right now.

Mita Mallick: Well, the story looks for me right now. 18 months into the pandemic. I'm still in my bedroom. I switched into another big job left. Unilever came to Carta. I have not met anyone at the company except for one person, which was a socially awkward distance coffee date on a, on a city bench. I, um, so I would say one of the lucky ones who's employed as a working mother, I have a six and nine.

And that's one of the most important jobs I have. And my story is being rewritten because I am finding different ways to storytell, which has starting a podcast, which is super exciting and super scary as you know,

Adam Conner: Hey, I've been there now. You're going to get scared. I'm scared. I'm scared right now. No. Um, so, so, uh, well let me ask you this.

Cause I, that it actually surprises me something you said, so. I have only met one other person over there, but you've been there. Look, I'm going to cheat a little bit. Viewers are going to look at my other screen over here for like over a year. I would have assumed that most organizations make like, not publicly, but they'll will asterisk.

Oh, we'll get our leadership together. At least we'll all talk. So Caritas taking it super seriously. Is that, has that surprised you that like you act like even now most people gotta be Vaxxed.

Mita Mallick: For me, I've wanted to wait for my children to get vaccinated. So for me, my six and nine-year-old who they've gotten their first shots, I'm really excited.

So I hope by mid December, January, we are returning to the office, but the company has been super. Of meeting people where they are and making sure that we're keeping employees safe. And so I think there were three weeks in the summer before the surge of Delta, where it was the roaring twenties, where I was about to go back to the office and then Delta surged.

I was about to, sorry, not go back, go into the office for the first January for me will be like the first day of school. I'm excited.

Adam Conner: Yes. I remember those roaring twenties is a good way to put it because people would just start. Actually people were taking their masks off. They're like, you know what. Um, and viewers we're recording.

This is going to come out in a little bit. We were recording this and I should have known, we were recording this within like a week or two of that first shot for ages, like five to 11 being loud. That's so that makes complete sense. And I don't have kids, so that's why I was ignorant to that. But cool.

Glad you're going to have your first day of school experience. Yes. Yeah. Uh, okay. So let me, let me start right there because the way that you. Described the story, as it looks right now, you went immediately to the most important job of all being raised in a family. You went to your personal story as opposed to diving headlong, which most folks that I talked to do into their organization, we can touch on it a little bit, but it seems clear to me and I'll dive right in with this.

I talk with chief marketing officers, a lot founders, a lot CEOs a little bit. Um, but generally speaking, like people who should be the chief storyteller. For their brand. The funny thing about that is that it's probably like half the time. I don't want to say the majority because it's not true, but like roughly half of people are really good at telling the story of their business and they come like fully loaded into this interview, ready to go with those facts.

And they're not really able to tell their own personal story that incredibly. Uh, why do you have a thought on this? Because, and we'll get more to your like personal stories and experiences through this and listeners, I'm sort of like baiting it here because I know that meta has a good story and that she prioritizes it.

Why don't leaders show their personal stories more is a risk. Is it fear? What is what's up with that?

Mita Mallick: I think there are a lot of different reasons. I think that there's fear. You're scared. You might have parts of your story. You haven't reconciled with yourself. You have parts of your story. You haven't said out loud, you have parts of your story that are being rewritten.

I think it's actually interesting in terms of, especially in the last 18 months and how the power dynamic and companies are shifting. I think that when I was growing up in corporate America, it was like the CEO, the C-suite, they were like, gods, they weren't human. Right. You just thought, yeah. And it's like this idea of like old power, new power shifting.

So the idea of old power is like, you're the CEO, I'm the CEO. I have all the answers to everything. I know what to do. Everyone's going to listen to me. And it's like the pyramid, right? So like I'm right here on top. And so maybe I have to feel like I have to put on. Yep. Right. Of like, and a curated image of myself.

And so now I think what you've seen is my kids might run in they're in school today, which is great. So they won't be, but you just don't know what sort of grief and pain has been going on behind people's screens. And in a lot of ways we've actually been exposed to it. And so the stories can't be hidden anymore.

They're right there, out in the open. And so I think that's, what's also changed. Yeah,

Adam Conner: I've, I've, I've loved it personally because I began interviewing leaders like the fourth quarter of 18. So I got a good five quarters of it, six really before, like, before everybody went home. Right. So in that time I saw the power of.

Media training. So a lot of people who knew their points, they stayed buttoned up. Maybe they were that like, God, like whatever they were, they were at the pinnacle and they needed to maintain that image. Sometimes they were leading publicly traded companies, lots more people were listening to this than just me and somebody caring about marketing, but then everything turned around.

And I, those, the moments that I've loved the most, which I'm sure that hopefully these hopefully leaders are now understanding more like even moments. So the show like listeners, we, we cut in and out sometimes when, when things happen, knock on the door, a mailman or whatever, or like in the case of one, I was interviewing, uh, this woman, Jessica, who at the time was heading marketing for, uh, open table and kayak at the same time.

And is now the CMO at indeed her name's Jessica Jensen. And we stopped halfway through because her daughter like ran in the door, wanting to play horses. So we played horses for a second. Now that's not something that you would ever get on, like an earnings call or anything I knew you never would, but like, those are the moments that I, and, and hopefully people are seeing a lot more, I think in part, because of another thing that I heard from marketers, brand leaders, whatever leaders like you the whole time, which were that you need to bring your full self, you need to show every part of your.

When you come into work, that's an important point though, because now we're a year and a half right into this thing where people are they're hybrid. They're sometimes in the office, sometimes they're, everybody's returning slowly, but they're still at home bringing your full self to work has just been bringing your full self into the partition of your home, where you're having meetings that day.

People have become a lot more open with that. I mean, w what was athleisure is now like work, leisure attire, like even stuff like that. Now we're starting to trickle home by home. I mean, the office, what do you think people are going to do when they are brought back into that environment? Where historically they need to be, you know, buttoned up shoulders, back, walking through professional attitude where the last year and a half, it hasn't necessarily needed to be that way.

How do they retain that authentic?

Mita Mallick: I hope we don't forget it. I hope we don't leave it behind on the screens. I think it's going to be like the great reunion in terms of people getting

Adam Conner: a bit like a lot of it follows a lot of words, session reshuffled. Yeah.

Mita Mallick: And just to continue to show up with kindness and empathy for each other.

I think that's so important. And I think, you know, returning to the office, the great reunion is not going to be as easy as we pictured. Listen, I have a private office right now. I don't know what it's like going to be like my bedroom, what it's going to be like to be sitting next to a coworker. Now remember many organizations went through over the last five to 10 years, this open seating thing.

Right? So now we're going to go back to hoteling and sitting wherever. Taking zoom calls volume loud. You know, if my husband leaves the, his lunch plate in the sink, I can yell and scream at him. I can't really do that with my coworkers. It's like, why is the common kitchen? Like all those sort of things, as you might try as I might land.

So show up with kindness. I think it's going to be a real transition for many of us who have been working virtually to show up again. And what I hope is that people will remember just like you said, The individual you interviewed and her daughter and horses. And so if that was a coworker, gosh, what an amazing detail that you remember that you remember that about her when you see her and ask her, oh, is she still in divorces?

What's going on at home? And that I think now is an adore that we've opened that we can no longer go back and close. Good.

Adam Conner: I hope so. I hope

Mita Mallick: so too, but we have to keep it all open. That's what we all, it's all our responsibilities to keep it all open and not to forget. That's right.

Adam Conner: I have not. Pleasure for better or worse or of having that environment?

Um, since I began working remotely, which predated all of this, I started that in middle of, excuse me, middle of 2018. So I haven't, now my wife has seen it. I have not. And I just, I think it's gonna be really hard for people to break it. Especially folks who are now, people who are new to the workforce, or, you know, if you use into the workforce may be more flexible to it, but I just.

Do you think that office environments, or are you going to have to bring like more to the table to like entice people to be their whole selves when they're back in? Because it almost feels like it almost feels like people could drag their feet in like it's the first day of school in a bad way. You know, you mentioned it like, it could be a happy reunion, but it's also like, God I'd much rather be in my bedroom,

Mita Mallick: private office.

I have a lot of social anxiety. I'll be honest. I don't think people know that I'm five, one. That's an interesting thing too. Right? Like I am that I joined a company of tall people. I keep pretending that I'm 61, but I'm really five, one and a half. And so I've never met anybody in person. Where am I going to sit?

Well, I have friends for lunch. What should I be wearing? I'm in a tech company. I don't really want to show up with a hoodie. I love wearing dresses and heels, you know, all those sorts of things, but I

Adam Conner: think

Mita Mallick: exactly what what'll happen is we'll settle in. I think it will be overwhelming at first, but I think we'll go back to, you know, I love, I love meeting people and I love socializing and I love doing work that way.

I think we'll also have to give each other when I say time. Have quiet and downtime and to recharge ourselves. I was the person who would leave my house at like 8:00 AM and some nights wouldn't be back till 10. If I was doing dinner and evenings and events, I also was the person who'd be like, Hey, like there's a, there's a break.

Let's walk to Starbucks and continue chatting. Let's grab a coffee and we're back. And you know what? Now I just might want to walk to Starbucks. Like I might want those times. I think I keep saying we need like human recharging stations. We need places in the office where you can just sit quietly alone and not have to talk to anyone because I think that is going to be the adjustment when we're back full time live in-person

Adam Conner: isn't it.

Isn't it strange what immediately comes to my mind just as you say that, I think it's, I think it's correct by the way, how perhaps. Inadvertently present the nap, pods of the mid two thousands offices. You know, nowadays you might need to throw in some of that Y over here to be away from you. You know, I want to take a minute to relax and recenter, and if I don't have a coffee shop nearby, it's gotta be done around the corner.

Something like that. Yes. But then of course, in the moments when you, you have to, you know what I almost said they have to be on, but what I really mean is whatever, I still do think there's sort of an on-off component of like being around other folks and working in an office environment. It's just, that's the way that I've operated for better or worse.

Um, coming from a performance background where it makes those moments when you're on like, obviously incredibly important, cause you're still putting your best self out there. Um, It's in those moments now where you have to, I would argue stand out even more than you did. Uh, because being in person will be, it'll have that heightened, uh, gravity gravitas, at least for the next like year or

Mita Mallick: two.

And I think what you're getting at is the question of how you manage. And so if I needed to manage my energy right now, I wouldn't do this because we're in the middle of the podcast. I can just shut the screen or if I need it to manage my energy, I could shut my video off. There's all sorts of things in ways we've adjusted to in this way of working and we'll have to readjust in person.

And yes, those moments do matter when you're presenting to your CEO or presenting to the board. Or leading a team meeting and doing it in person, even now, you can only see me waste up thinking about all the, the non-verbals and projection of voice and all of those things that I think about will be different back when we're live.

Adam Conner: Right. Yeah. I agree. So let me switch gears for just a second. Um, just based on a couple of the things that we talked about prior to this. One of these things. I immediately gravitated to being somebody who does my own media work. I mean, really, it's not just that I work at home and I've got all these employees over there across the screen.

It's just me. This is a solo venture. You're looking at the whole enchilada right here from that. I carry an attitude professionally. Of having nothing to lose. Now you've said that in the past, have an incredibly powerful inspiration for bringing that attitude forward all the time. And I think it's when people have their backs up against the wall, when they have nothing to lose, they do their best work.

I want to hear your inspiration for having nothing to lose and why right now that gives people a really strong advantage. Even if they're not using it for an advantage, it's, it's tied in with authenticity, but I want to know why those two things to nothing, to lose attitude and bringing your authentic self to work are, have never been more tidy.

Mita Mallick: I think for me personally, we chatted about this and nothing to lose comes from, um, almost five years ago, February Valentine's day. My life changed forever. I lost my dad really suddenly. And so when you experienced grief that way and you lose someone, so suddenly unexpectedly you just ask yourself the question, what are you waiting for?

Because life is really short. I could not wake up tomorrow. And so that really drives me from. Things that have really impacted me personally. And I think back to the authenticity piece, I grew up in a time and place where it was not cool to be Indian. I was the funny looking dark skin girl with the long, funny looking braid whose parents spoke funny English until it wasn't funny anymore.

And I was bullied a lot, both verbally and physically growing up. And that has stayed with me and I don't want anyone to ever express. That, that they don't feel like that they belong, that they're excluded. And to your point that I want to be in an environment. I want everyone to be in an environment where they feel like they can bring the best versions of themselves to work.

Because when I feel like my company supports me, not only is my potential limitless, also, the company's potential is limitless. It's like the sky's the limit. And so that's what the, that's why those two things are connected. And that's what, that's what really drives me. And I think everyone needs to tap into.

What is it that gets you out of bed other than a paycheck? Like, are you living a life that you, that you want that's filled with purpose, however you define or measure that I know purposes, a heavy word, and that changes every day, but what is it that you would say impact you want to make in this world?

Adam Conner: I hear it quite a bit.

That feeling that you're working for something or towards something bigger than yourself, a large part of that fulfillment. And of course, Having nothing feeling that, that like Carpe diem all the time. I cannot wake up tomorrow. That's that's that's correct. I got, I got nothing to lose. There's no reason why I shouldn't, because tomorrow may be gone.

Now, how I hear something like that? I get inspired immediately. I think most people do, because if you, if you ring their bell like that, they, they zoom out and it put things into perspective. My instinct, because I'm rather impulsive as, as a person that can have, like that kind of personality at times would be to go full steam into something, whatever that something is that I want, it could be a personal endeavor.

It could be going into business for myself, whatever it is. Um, going back to what we just talked about, about managing that, that energy of being on and off. And, um, you, you, you said that you've somebody with a little bit of anxiety I've had, I've had a crazy amount of. In my past and been treated for and all that.

How do you balance that? Like, well, I gotta have that nothing to lose attitude. Cause it could all be gone tomorrow, but man, like I got, I got limited energy today. How do you, how do you marry those two things? Because I wouldn't want it to unintentionally bring me like more stress. Cause I'm not matching like a potential that like I heard from this inspiring thing.


Mita Mallick: I get it. And you want to manage being burnt out? No, one's trying to, I'm not trying to say, get burned out over your purpose and the impact you want to make. But I would say it's like part of, it's also like being grateful for all that you've achieved today. I think sometimes we're too busy chasing success.

Like what do you have today that you're grateful for? And what are the one or two things you want to do and working towards them every day, there's small wins and that, that tied a big wins. I think sometimes. Sort of skip the small wins to get to the big woods or we don't. So that's, that's part of it.

I'll tell you. I thought about doing a podcast for two years with a friend, my friend Dee. And then finally I was like, what am I waiting for? What am I waiting? So some of these things, I'm not saying they don't happen overnight. Right? Well, I'm just saying like, think about it. What is it? That's holding you back and usually it's ourselves that are holding us back.

It's not generally something. Yeah. Some, sometimes it's related to money or support, but I think the biggest obstacle starts with us and thinking about why we're holding ourselves back,

Adam Conner: I'm right there with you mind over matter. And if it took you two years and we've got, we're going to talk about this next two years, you had it in your head.

No, I love it because you know, I got into podcasting. I'm not in the business world. And frankly, for a weird reason, frankly, the only reason I got into it, because I wanted to perform somewhere. I wanted to tell stories. And because I was traveling a lot because I was in tech sales, I did a podcast because that was like one less thing, one less thing being like, I didn't have to sit in front of a fixed camera in one spot.

I can fly around and be on a microphone. How hard is that? It turns out pretty hard. Um, but cause it's just like the same. I'm still doing the same editing works. I don't know I was being, I was, I was naive. Um, that said it's been incredibly. And you D D Marshall I'll link her in our, in our notes, everybody you'll, you'll be able to get to all of this that I'm about to say very recently dropped your own podcast.

Cool. Called brown table talk. I want to learn more about what that is for our listeners. And I think this is where I'm probably going to take a backseat and let you drive this conversation a little bit, because it touches on so many things that. As I said at the top need to learn more about, because I haven't had these experiences, frankly, because I'm a white guy that's wrong, that there there's systemic advantages that I've been given.

And you're talking about how to empower everyone. And you found that you're getting really rave reviews and feedback from all sorts of folks. But I don't want to, I don't want to load this too heavily. Why don't you tell me a little bit about. You do the talking and I'll shut up.

Mita Mallick: So I've known D since 2017, we're very close friends.

She identifies as a black woman identify as a south Asian brown woman. And we have shared so many stories about the shit we've been through in our careers and in our lives. And that we finally said, we talk about this all the time, audio messages, late night texts, phone calls, dinners. Let's share this with the world.

And so we wanted to share experiences that we have been through, and this is not an indicted. Meaning so-and-so did this to me. It is about sharing those experiences to help women of color, not just survive, but thrive at work and also for allies to pull up and listen in and say, okay, like what, what can I do if I see this happening?

Because my perspective has always been. I love to share stories about what I and others have been through. And then to say, what can we learn from it? And if someone had been there for me in that moment at work, what could they have done differently? And so one of the reasons we took a long time to do the podcast is I didn't have the energy to learn or understand how to actually create a podcast from the technical place, which I know, you know, really well.

So rich Cardona. Of rich Cardona media is our podcast producer and he gave us some wonderful advice before we even started. He's like, well, listen to other podcasts and find out what you like or don't like. And so we wanted that to be short they're under 25 minutes, season one has eight episodes. Um, episode seven just dropped this week and they're, they're short.

We tell stories and we leave five tips at the end, both for women of color and allies. And our hope is that. We can impact as many people as possible, both, as you said, as you wonderfully just acknowledged how you're on your journey as an ally, that we can help people understand and stories that normally aren't shared out in public.

Like we're really, as we say, spilling some tea on some things that people don't talk about openly,

Adam Conner: what's been the most excited. What's been the, I want to say exciting because in this case it's probably provoking for, for, for me or for the listener. So as sensitive as it may have been, what's been the what's been the most.

Yeah. I don't know what word to say, but what's been the most interesting thing for you to actually talk about that is that tea that felt refreshing to lay on the table, so to

Mita Mallick: speak. Okay. God, there's so many things, but I think one of the things that. Getting recognition for your work and making sure your work doesn't get stolen.

That's happened to me too often, my career. And there's a short story I share. I'll, I'll leave that for you all to listen to the episode, but that happens a lot. It happens a lot more than we think it does, and it it's happened. Certainly I can only speak from my experience as a woman of color, and I think it happens.

To a lot of women, as I've, as I've been, we've been hearing feedback on it. So, so what do you do? And as an ally, if you see that happening, do you let someone else take credit for my work or do you stand up and say, Hey, actually that was meet as idea and that's actually meet his entire deck that you just lifted and now you're presenting as your own.

So those are some of the conversation conversations we're having. Yeah,

Adam Conner: I, that, I mean, look, I don't have to be in that particular position at that particular time to get upset about it. Right. Right. Imagine you in the moment. I mean, and then, and then to think it's so broad that you may feel that there's nothing you can even do about it.

And I'll talk about that in just, just a second, because I do have a question about it. Um, since you're going to a leadership position and I'm frankly not, but you have launched this first season, you're in the midst of launching the first season. Again, two years, I'll put stuff everywhere, so you can click on it and you can look at all of it.

I have received just as many plaudits comments, feedback from allies or potential allies as you have from maybe the audience that you intended to initially target, right. It's called Brownsville. We'll talk for a reason. My guess is that you are looking to empower women, people of color, but you got a lot of commentary.

Can you talk a little bit about that? Like, were you expecting to get.

Mita Mallick: So when D and I started the podcast and started recording some of the episodes, I would naturally ask her, well, D what would we, what would you do if you were an ally? Like, what could an ally do in this moment? And so it just sort of started happening naturally because I don't, yes, the storytelling is important, but what we learned from it is even more important.

And I shared with you earlier. I was really touched that one of my. Um, man friends who used to be a colleague, we worked together listened to a bunch of the episodes. He actually said he missed a stop getting to work cause he was trying to binge. And then he sent me. I had, gosh, the kindness note, this has hit me to the core that said I had no idea that when we worked together, you were going through all of these things.

And I really wish I had been there for you more. And I wrote back immediately, like you were there for me in so many ways, you are an ally for me. I just wasn't ready to share a lot of the things I've been through. And so that meant a lot. And like you said, I'm a marketer. So I knew my primary audience would be brown and black women.

And I'll use brown women, inclusively women of color. Who wanted community in these stories and to understand what they could do to win at work. And then there's the secondary audience of white ally. Who are allies and, you know, aspiring allies, allies, and action allies and training, all reaching out to say, thank you so much because no one ever openly shares these stories and the way you all are sharing.

Like we, you know, someone said to me, I, an ally said to me, I feel like I have access to a seat at a table. I normally wouldn't when I'm listening to these stories.

Adam Conner: Yeah. It makes me wonder almost like in the future state, these lessons that are being. Are obviously listened to and taken for right now, but ultimately perhaps could lead to an, again, I'm not part of a big corporation right now, so I don't know, but programs and, and, and I don't know if it's like internal, like learning series or whatever about like how to be a good ally.

I assuming they exist, but is. Something that you're seeing. And is that something that, uh, there could be more?

Mita Mallick: I think so. I mean, listen, these stories are not easy to tell. They're painful to tell. Some might even say embarrassing that these things happened to me and I never did anything or didn't have the courage or the voice then.

And so sometimes I think when we talk about how to be good ally and allyship, the recommendations and the tips and things we give. Are great, but they're very vague and stories, move people. We know this, this is marketing 1 0 1 stories, move people's stories, stay with people, stories, inspire people to take action.

So the more stories we can share, you know, the friend who texted me, he's an ally anyway, but I know he's going to be thinking about it differently now at work with some of the things he's heard.

Adam Conner: Right. I got a couple more questions on broadly for you, but I'll, I'll stick with one personally, and then I'll go to how brands behave.

And then I'll talk about this grand, a word that I love to, I love to tie myself to. So the first thing is that not directly related to this concurrent much longer-lasting pandemic, which is racism and discrimination in the office, is this rising move. Of of anti work, which isn't really a, um, it's not really anti work.

It's more people just like fighting for what is right. Fighting for better treatment, things like that. Um, within that I have seen either comments or, or, or anecdotes or stories, which have led to this like weird offshoot message, which is when things like this happen, you need to tell your stories in ways.

And this is why I'm asking your perspective is. Which don't involve parts of an organization like HR, because they are there to protect a company and you're more likely to get shunned or phased out rather than helped. That's something that you're seeing on the ground.

Mita Mallick: Well, listen, I think broadly HR gets a bad rap, right?

There are in my career. I've met a lot of, not so great HR people and a lot of great HR people. And I think whether you call it human human resources or the people function. It is becoming more and more important. And at the core of any company, especially what we've seen, whether it's the pandemic of racism, COVID-19 the way we're working.

The people function is front and center. And so. The employees make up the company. So if we help create an inclusive culture that protects the employees, it'll help protect the company. I do want to actually build off your question about storytelling, because I think this is important. So D and I have decided that we want to share our stories.

We've chosen that what we also have to be careful about as allies is the cost of going to a primary source to constantly get access to a story. So, for instance, if we're talking about the rise of xenophobia, And hate crimes against the Asian community. As an ally, you have to have a trusted and safe relationship.

You also have to be careful not to go to let's say me, that one Asian person you might know and not know well and say, what do you think about that woman who was like walking to church, the Asian woman in New York. In broad daylight and was attacked brutally. That is like, that's really painful. And that's not something I might want to talk about.

And I also might not want to talk about my connection to what's happening right now because it's so painful for me. And so I always joke and say, you can Google what it means to be anti-racist you don't have to run up to people and ask them, right. You can do the work on your own. So. I think that as human beings, storytelling is one of the oldest forms of tradition of communicating, but just ask yourself at what expense you don't always have to go to a primary source.

And so, you know, just be careful about that. I don't, it's not the job of individuals from historically marginalized groups to constantly be sharing those stories is the other piece. Totally.

Adam Conner: I don't have to know the exact full, broad definition of the word ally, to understand that. Well, if you are going to be an ally, you will do things in partnership.

You will, you will tell a story is that you don't necessarily need to. I don't, I don't need to ping you every single time. Something else happens to get a qualified thought on it. I can be qualified in. Is that what you're trying

Mita Mallick: to say? Basically, I'm trying to say, but I also would say many organizations.

And organizations are flawed because they're made of human beings who flawed, but we have a national tragedy. We have another unarmed black man who is shot and killed. And then all of a sudden the CEO or the leadership team says let's get all the black and brown people into the room and ask them how they're feeling.

Let's ask the allies, how they're feeling, how are we going to show up for our black employees in that moment? And so that's where I think we have to be careful about putting pain on display. Right. And asking people permission, like, and ask people like, do you feel comfortable talking with us? Do you want to talk about this?

And if you don't like, actually, you know what, as an ally, maybe it's my job to help start this conversation. So that's what I think. You just have to ask people, um, don't assume ask people what they're comfortable.

Adam Conner: I think that is, it's a really poor way to put it. Don't put paint on display. Got it. Okay.

Yes. Let's pan let's. Let's get everybody in a room. Anybody who will show up and ask, what can we do? Not cherry pick or, you know, whatever. Um, So, I mean, and hopefully people are following your lead here, your teachings and doing it that way more broadly speaking. Yes. Consumers, people who are voting with their wallets every single day have started.

I, I think over the last year and yet shore COVID accelerated it, but hopefully this was just a trend that was happening already. And especially now with regard to this, as I said, concurrent pandemic. Consumers seem to be turning a corner where they are finally genuinely taking the principles of a corporation and putting it over a price point of a product and buying something.

I've heard it been called belief, driven buying. I've heard it been called a number of things. W where do you think we are in that evolution? And how do you believe it will continue to change the way that brands behave when tragedies like. I want to make sure of course that brands don't posture. I mean, that's like, that gets closer to what my focus is like, are you really, do you really care?

You're saying that to protect your bottom line, how will this belief driven buying in your opinion, continued to change the way that these brands behave and will it be.

Mita Mallick: I think it's here to stay. I'm sure. One of the many pieces of research you've seen is from Edelman trust barometer survey, the, the, the rise and belief driven buying is not gen Z gen Y it's across gen X, whatever it is across generations.

And so I think again, with the diversity tipping point of last year, the market has moved. And to your point, there's a lot of diversity washing out there. So checking the boxes when you actually lift up the hood, it's like, I recently published a piece in ad week, which I'll I'll share with you to share with our listeners.

But we talk about in it, I talk about the three pitfalls of brands. I'll give you one and you can read the rest, but diversity dressing. What does that mean? I am on Instagram, I'm scrolling and I see a beautiful image of a dark skin woman washing her face. And it's from a beauty brand I won't name. And then I go and research.

They've got no products that work for her. No foundations, no eyeshadows. So you're like, what? So that is diversity dressing. So this, this putting up this facade or image that you actually are supporting the cause, uh, without actually making sure all the details,

Adam Conner: there was a, there was a, I don't think it was called put up or shut up, but it was called.

Pull up or

Mita Mallick: shut up, pull up or shut up yet in the beauty.

Adam Conner: Cool. I knew, I knew I was because that happened, that wasn't just an illustrious example that happened in real life. Somebody went in and ended up calling out a bunch of

Mita Mallick: people and it was a big movement and it's still, still happening. Cause they're actually now, as they would say, checking receipts from a year ago to see, you know, not just as we would say it is about the workforce data, but it's also how do your brands and products show up in the marketplace to your point, you can say you stand for.

But when are you willing to stand up for them and how are you going to show up? Right.

Adam Conner: Right. I think that kind of, stuff's fascinating and, and yes, reflective of the broader progression of consumers towards genuine belief driven buying, and hopefully genuine brand positioning instead of just projection towards actually making progress in these issues.

As you said, um, on all of these fronts, diversity,

Mita Mallick: to your point, there's a big piece of allyship. I don't identify with the LGBTQ plus community. I identify as an ally. So when a brand stands up for that community, I'm more likely to buy from the brand. So it's very interesting. It's not just about how you identify in my case as a south Asian brown woman, wanting to support more founders from that community, but also I'm an ally.

I try to be I'm on a journey to be an ally. So I'm sh I'm very interested in brands who are showing up for other communities as well.

Adam Conner: I agree. I. For, for me, for somebody who was like spoken to these leaders on both sides of COVID, I do have this like natural born skepticism that I'm trying to slough.

Cause I still see it. Like, I will still see whatever an Instagram ad, a TV ad, you know, I go back to like, you know, years and years and years and years ago, probably five years ago where brands would spend like 5 million bucks to say, like we donated a hundred grand to this. Cause you know what I mean?

Like they're. I am working on it too. Not just to be an ally for groups that need it, but. To maybe, I guess like trust brands a little more than they are actually doing it. Right. And

Mita Mallick: they have to earn their trust. And I think the demographics have changed too quickly in this country. According to the most recent Nielsen study, it's $3.1 billion of spending power from the multicultural consumer.

And so that can't be ignored anymore. And so that, that spending power is growing. And so that's where I also see when you ask like the skepticism of where will it turn back? I think it's hard. When the market has shifted also in terms of the dollars.

Adam Conner: Yep. You can't argue with that. Um, nor will I argue with this next question from me, cause we talked about, uh, all of these different pieces that add up to the grand, this grand a word.

And so I have begun asking everybody and this next question. Hard to do, even for me. But if you had your own personal dictionary and you opened up to the, a section and you saw the word authenticity, what would the definition next to that word read?

Mita Mallick: Be unapologetically me. That's my journey. I am just going to show up as myself from now on not as somebody else, not as what other people expect me to be and no more hiding. No more hiding things that have happened or things that I haven't want to talk about. So that's, that's, that's what I'm not doing to do that every day.

Not always, but that's what I try. That's how I'm going to continue to show up. And that's when I want to role model for my children and all of our children,

Adam Conner: as you've said, if you can take one or two things and look at them, and we talked about that from a, nothing to lose attitude, point of view, but it can be on a journey to being unapologetically you and be around.

With a quick ask for advice for those who are trying to follow your lead in that way, and maybe follow your lead towards becoming a leader on these issues at corporation or otherwise, what advice would you give to them as to how to get started on that path to find maybe their personal, either their personal truth or their brand's truth with regard to these.

How do they pave their own Authentic Avenue was riding really trying to ask per the name of the show, but could you help me with that? As we close out

Mita Mallick: a few things, start by sharing a letter to your younger self, right? If you could write a letter to your younger self and sort of your story and what you've been through that only you can read.

No, you don't have to do, you don't have to share it with anyone yet. I think that's one, that's one way to do it. And I think the next step would be share something about yourself that you haven't shared with anyone else yet. Um, and I think you'll be surprised about the feedback you get. And I think the more we share there's power in that, because I think the things that at least I've been in through, through, in my career, when I share that story, I get my voice back and I heal myself a little bit, and I also help other heals and empower, heal, help others heal and empower myself and others to use their voice.

Adam Conner: Well, I, I have taken away a number of things from this that I'm going to try to, um, like I said, I'm an impulsive thing, persons. I don't want to put them all into action, but for example, writing a letter to my younger self, never heard of that before.

Mita Mallick: I'm stealing that. That was not me. I don't know who it was, but if you're listening, please give yourself credit.

That's. That was something that I saw starting has started to happen on LinkedIn people.

Adam Conner: Yeah, that's cool. So, yeah, it's actually not. Yeah. And viewers, listeners, you know, wherever you are, I, I hope that this conversation inspires you to do two things. The first is take it upon yourself to learn more about this world and how to be a better ally by listening to brown tables.

It's a good place to start. If you don't know where to go, you might as well learn from two people who are telling their story where other people maybe aren't. Um, and secondly, take those final pieces of advice to heart. What can you share that you haven't done before? What will you write to your younger self?

Those are important things that I'm at least going to think about today and until this goes up and then maybe far beyond that for doing that, inspiring that for me today. Thank you very much for joining us for joining us on the avenue. And, uh, and we'll talk again soon, but I appreciate it.

Mita Mallick: Thanks so much for having me.


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