BOSTON - Entrepreneur Laurie Nicolas dreamed of being a pediatrician, but after college, she found herself running a prestigious doctor's office.
Her pride in her work, however, was overshadowed by how she felt she was treated.
"As a young black woman in a leadership role, it was a very isolated experience for me,“ said Nicolas. “I did face a lot of adversity in the workplace, which I struggled to navigate, personally."
Nicolas told Boston 25 News the institutional racism and sexism she faced was shocking and unexpected. The oldest of five, she grew up in Cambridge, a place she calls a melting pot of cultures.
Nicolas had graduated with honors from UMass Boston and later, Harvard's Extension School and Northeastern University School of Law.
She wanted to make it work but says her employer was unresponsive.
"When I had finally built up the courage to say hey, I'm unhappy with what's going on, I'm not sure what the next steps are. However, I would like for us to discuss and work something out,“ Nicolas said. “I was just faced with an unpleasant reaction."
Nicolas says even then, she stayed at work torn between her ambition and how to deal with the treatment she received at work.
"It was extremely isolating because no one in the entire organization looked like me," she said. "So there was no one that I could go and speak to that would understand where I was coming from because there was no one there that would understand what I was going through."
But with time and encouragement from friends and mentors, she left and started her own business. Pink Fit is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the importance of women's health and wellness by offering physical fitness programs, sports programs and wellness workshops. They're best known for Pink Sundays and a female-only football league.
"The moment that I started sharing my story with other women and realizing that I wasn't alone,” she said.
Out of that, she started Femcove, a female-focused organization that provides a platform for millennial women to connect, collaborate and create with other women. Monthly, women share their experiences. And Nicolas continues to be inspired by women-centric movements like the Women's March, #MeToo and the election of a historic number of women to the House of Representatives.
"Giving a new meaning to what it means be an African-American in society today," Nicolas said. "'Diversity and inclusion' is such a buzzword nowadays and a lot of organization are not putting forth the effort to build an inclusive workplace. A workplace with a collaborative culture."
Femcove uses its online platform to provide a number of resources on everything from work-life balance to black women and post-partum depression.
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