The First, The Few, The Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America

AmpEquity Speaker Series with Deepa Purushothaman

March 21, 2023


Speaker: Deepa PurushothamanAuthor
Moderator: Sanchita B. SaxenaExecutive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies; Director, Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies; Lecturer, Responsible Business, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
Opening remarks: Kellie McElhaneyFounder & Executive Director, Center for Equity, Gender & Leadership, Haas
Respondent: Emani HolyfieldMBA Class of 2024, MBAA VP of DEI
Respondent: Colby SameshimaMBA Class of 2024, EGAL Student Advisory Board Co-Chair.


Women of color are one of the fastest-growing segments in the corporate workforce, yet often we are underrepresented—among the first, few, or only ones in a department or company. For too long, corporate structures, the social zeitgeist, and cultural conditioning have left us feeling exhausted and downtrodden, believing that in order to “fit in” and be successful, we must hide or change who we are.

As a former senior partner at a large global services firm, Deepa Purushothaman experienced these feelings of isolation and burnout. She met with hundreds of other women of color across industries and cultural backgrounds, eager to hear about their unique and shared experiences. In doing so, she has come to understand WOCs collective setbacks—and the path forward in achieving our goals.

The First, the Few, the Only is a roadmap forward for us to make a profound impact within and outside our organizations while ensuring that our words are heard, our lived experiences are respected, and our contributions are finally valued.

Deepa Purushothaman is a former senior executive and a corporate inclusion visionary. She challenges and redefines the status quo of leadership, success, and power by centering the experiences of Women of Color.

As a senior partner at Deloitte, Deepa spent more than 20 years helping clients grow. She was also the US Managing Partner of WIN, Deloitte’s renowned Women’s Initiative, and was the first Indian-American woman and one of the youngest people to make partner in the firm’s history.

Deepa left Deloitte in 2020 to co-found nFormation, a membership-based community for professional Women of Color. She is an Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School, and a board member of Avasara, India’s first leadership academy for girls.

The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America, Deepa’s debut book, was published by HarperCollins in 2022 to international acclaim.

Deepa is a TED and SXSW speaker and has been featured in TIME, PBS, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Financial Times, and Harvard Business Review. Her TED talks have almost 3M views.

She has degrees from Wellesley College, Harvard Kennedy School, and the London School of Economics, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their four fur kids.
Sponsor(s): South Asia Studies, Institute forInstitute for South Asia StudiesThe Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh StudiesThe Center for Gender, Equity and LeadershipSpeaker Series: India at Berkeley