“My favorite color is red, and every single color has a subconscious meaning,” says Flavilla FongangFounder of 3 Colors Rule and Global Tech Advocate Black Women in Tech Group.
She always wears a “power color” when networking. “I realized how much influence color has on how people perceive us,” she explains.
But how does this factor into Fongang being named this year’s most influential woman in UK technology? “We build brands, [and] If you look at brands, most of the time it is a combination of three colors. Those colors also have meaning behind them,” he says.
Most people think black is a good color to wear, but according to Fongang it “drains” a lot of people – red is emotional, white is transparent, black is professional.
“So what does color say about your brand? Before you even read, you’ve already made a judgment about how you feel about a brand. That’s why color is so important, and people often underestimate it.”
Diving into the tech sector
Fongang quit his job in the oil and gas industry to become an entrepreneur, first in fashion, where he points out The entire sector is driven by creativity.
“Before I got into technology, I was into fashion. What I love about the fashion industry is that every six months there is a new season. So what is the art of creativity. If you are not creative, you cannot work in the fashion industry,” she says.
Fongang used this inspiration when he founded his creative agency, how he approaches clients and trains team members. After starting to follow the advice the agency was giving clients – to have a single focus and do it well – Fongang decided the 3 Color Rule should focus on helping the tech industry.
“I chose technology not only because technology has the ability to create a scalable impact, but also because I love working for disruptors and game-changers. Their ideas keep me on my toes, and I think that’s what we love as an agency,” she says.
“Karl Lagerfeld said the moment you stop surprising your clients or your audience, you lose them and they go somewhere else.”
Fongang is well known for networking and meeting people – and it’s time to admit it The only woman or the only black person in the house It meant he would be remembered by the people he met, he says Lack of diversity in the technology sector Just “not good enough”.
“I liked it [to focus on] Technology because technology not only has the ability to create a scalable impact, but I love working for disruptors and game-changers. Their ideas keep me on my toes.”
Flavilla Fongang, 3 color rule
People like him are also consumers of technology. Technology is everywhere, from Zoom for remote meetings, to Alexa for help around the house. “The black community, we want to buy. We are consumers, but often products are not designed to support us,” she says
Fongang noted that since “technology is in everything we do,” its development should involve a diverse group of people.
“If we are not the people developing the technology, then the technology is the product Built with unconscious bias, and it is very dangerous. We basically widen the gap,” she says. “Also, from a business perspective, those companies aren’t taking advantage of opportunities in different types of audiences, different cultures, and so on.”
present a Global Tech Advocates (GTA) event, Fongang noticed the lack of women, especially black women, and started a campaign to showcase some of the industry’s black female role models under the GTA banner. She says it goes against people’s misconceptions that there is no black female talent in the UK.
“Something [of the women showcased] Say, ‘Wow, someone recognizes me. Someone is paying attention to who I am… I have been in this job for so long [and] No one has ever made me feel the way you make me feel’. And I was like, ‘Wow, okay, we’re going to do something here’,” she says.
After Covid-19 hit, the effort went digital, creating online events where women could comment on various tech-based issues. The answer asks Fongang, “Where have you been?”.
despite women Technology makes up 17% of the sectorFongang found that they are often not represented at conferences or events, or put forward for opportunities.
A platform for role models
People, especially young people, often have Outdated or misrepresented concepts The type of people who work in the technology sector or what technology work involves.
Fongang explains that, even now, when people ask kids to think of someone who works in technology they think of the “IT guy”, “the BT guy from outside”, or the “white man in short sleeves”, but are less aware of the role of technology. which is “not defined or does not yet have a name”.
Showcasing role models from the sector, explaining what they do in their roles and how they got there, can help encourage people to pursue tech careers.
Fongang says the book is like that Voices in the Shadows was born. In 2021, the Global Tech Advocates Black Women in Tech group launched Voices in the ShadowsA book filled with the stories of 51 black women in technology.
Hundreds of copies of the book were distributed free of charge, alongside posters and digital copies, to schools in the UK and Ireland, making role models visible to young people who could inspire them to pursue technical careers.
“The book wasn’t just made for black girls to read, it’s for every kid to read, because we see a young boy reading it. [and] When she grows up and becomes a CEO, she might think differently about how you perceive a black woman,” said Fongang.
“The book is an evergreen piece. If you read this in 10 years, it will still be relevant. It really shows that you can achieve success no matter where you are, no matter what your background is.”
Global tech advocate Black Women in Tech is also invited Role model to speak at school Fongang said principals are eager to work with the nonprofit and parents are using the resource to read to children at bedtime.
Also, women involved in this project have gained more opportunities over the past year. Fongang says the women in tech community is a very supportive ecosystem, with people in the community regularly advocating for each other.
“I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for the support of black women, but also white women. I’d say my two top supporters are a black woman and a white woman, who have been the biggest advocates for supporting their organizations and speaking up for action, and I think that’s beautiful.”
Leading for the future
While Fongang wants more men to advocate for women in the sector, those who do are “our voice in the room we can’t get into”.
“Being influential means I share my success. While I’m doing it, I’m creating stories and creating superstars along the way.”
Some of the opportunities presented to women in Fongang’s network have made them influential in the space as well, and Fongang reminds them “what you do is not for you, it’s for the next generation”.
Flavilla Fongang, 3 color rule
“Leaders should create other leaders… What good is it if you keep all your wealth for yourself?” she asked. “No one succeeds on their own.”
To make progress, don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, says Fongang. While making her way in the tech sector, Fongang admits she had a lot to learn, considering herself an “ever-evolving” butterfly – she’s “always comfortable with discomfort”.
“I’m not afraid to go into territory I don’t understand. And it’s sad to say, but often, women and black women are often underestimated. I play it positively.
“The first time I got a client on blockchain, I was like, ‘What is blockchain?’ I was studying it. But naturally, I have always been a teacher.”
Success is measured in many ways, but when it comes to management, Fongang advises people to listen more than talk, to talk to employees and the people closest to customers, have a strong vision, make sure people enjoy coming to work. by doing every day, and encourage them to be innovators.
Fongang’s advice goes back to her insistence on creativity and innovation, which she first learned in the fashion sector.
“When I talk to very successful companies, I see the difference [in] What they did and how they empowered every single employee to be a self-starter and more.
“But if you say, ‘This is what you do and nothing else,’ and don’t let them be innovators, it kills them.”