Question of the Week
Lifting Underrepresented Voices
Happy Friday, everyone!
What a week! We dropped another great episode of the Mission Driven Business podcast.
I chat with Sonya Dreizler and Liv Gagnon, the co-founders of Choir, a business dedicated to lifting the voices of people of color, women, and non-binary professionals in industries historically represented by white men. Sonya and Liv share why they started with a focus on the financial services industry. They also discuss how they’ve adapted to meet the needs of their customers while staying true to their company’s mission.
Mission-driven businesses look inward and outward.
Like other guests on the podcast, Liv defines a mission-driven business as one that balances doing good with making a financial impact for those involved with the business. Sonya expanded on that definition by noting that mission-driven businesses can also apply their mission within the company itself. At Choir, that means not only helping other companies diversify people speaking at conferences and in the media but also hiring internal professionals and contractors from diverse backgrounds.
“What’s the mission you’re accomplishing with the business, and what are you doing inside of the business as well?” Sonya asked.
“The financial impact is going to go back to people who have been underpaid, underserved,” Liv added.
Being aware of a problem is powerful.
Part of Choir’s mission is to use data to make organizers aware of how conferences lack diversity. A recent analysis by the company showed that men of color, in particular, are lacking in the financial services conference circuit. It’s a data point that may be surprising but is a good starting point for change.
“Just knowing and understanding the challenge makes next year a lot easier to increase representation — not just for representation’s sake but to make it a more interesting event and draw more people,” Sonya said.
Successful businesses adapt.
Liv and Sonya set out to connect professionals from underrepresented backgrounds with conference circuits and media. But how they’re achieving that aim has already changed a few times based on client needs. For instance, the platform they had initially wanted to build, Voices, got pushed back to launch the Choir certification first. They also iterated their pricing structure for Choir based on client feedback.
“You become so much more emotionally tied to your ideas and your business model, so it is a challenge every time you have to pivot because you’ve put so much heart into it,” Liv said.
“People have a lot of opinions about what we’re doing,” Sonya added. “We have changed things because of people’s suggestions and made what we offer better, and we’ve also looked at feedback and said, ‘It doesn’t fit with our mission.’”
Quote of the Week
“You become so much more emotionally tied to your ideas and your business model, so it is a challenge every time you have to pivot because you’ve put so much heart into it,” Liv Gagnon
Task of the Week
If you haven’t already, listen to this episode. You’ll hear a lot of great nuggets of wisdom
You can also learn more about Choir, Sonya and Liv at the links below.
Resources + Links