Pascale Joseph, founder of Equity Through Liberation, disrupts the workplace to ensure her clients can thrive and present themselves at work in a way that matches their cultures, identities, goals and spirit.
With over ten years of experience in business, government, and nonprofit work, Pascale has repeatedly witnessed organizations misunderstand historically and intentionally excluded identities. While she knew this was an issue she wanted to tackle, she also knew the importance of doing so thoughtfully and in a way that would truly trigger change. Thus, Equity Through Liberation was born. Today, Pascale is committed to ensuring that the people who run businesses behind the scenes can operate with vulnerability, determination, authenticity and empathy.
We asked Pascale about her struggles with doubting herself as an entrepreneur, how she celebrates her successes along the way, and what’s next for her and Equity Through Liberation.
Q: Tell us the story of how your business was founded. How and why did you start working on Equity Through Liberation?
A: I started Equity Through Liberation because I wanted to start on my own. I had volunteered as a consultant for different organizations and reached a point where I felt ready to make it official. I had also reached a point where I knew I was ready to pivot in my career, but had spent quite a bit of time not knowing what that should be like. In all the roles I have held, there were always responsibilities that required coaching, training and leadership development. I love this job, especially because the main inspiration for what I do is to see people thrive and succeed. I knew my own professional journey was heavily impacted by the lack of support organizations had for understanding historically and intentionally excluded identities. I had been working in the area of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and advocacy for some time. However, I wanted to make sure that whatever systems, processes and programs I provided were not just looking at the financial benefits of diversity and inclusion, but more intentionally understanding how to build a team whose skills included understanding trauma and its collective and individual impact. .
Q: How has your education or past experiences contributed to the way you operate as an entrepreneur?
A: Human-centeredness has been an important aspect of my personal philosophy long before it became a trend. And it’s because of my upbringing. I grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, and knew the odds were stacked against me and my family. It was easy to feel and realize how “different” I was from my classmates at school, teachers, and other people I met during my developmental years. Much of this difference revolved around my identities and their intersection. I experienced prejudice and racism at a young age. And having been aware of how my identity contributes to how I am perceived and treated, I made it a point to celebrate the differences I encountered in others. I based my style of communication and learning on being hypersensitive to the things people say and the things that aren’t said; how people present themselves and how the internal and external context influences how they present themselves. I learned what not to do by observing the people around me and I committed myself to being a leader different from those who occupied spaces of authority in my life, whether it was at school, at work or in my personal life.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: Although I understood that I needed guidance and experience to lay the foundation for my academic and professional development, I always told myself that I hoped one day to work for myself. There’s something so meaningful about entrepreneurial freedom that you don’t find being a full-time employee. It’s not all sunshine though. Like any aspect of life, the journey of the entrepreneur does not necessarily have an end. It’s a commitment to a lifestyle that requires mindset shifts, a dedication to adaptability and flexibility, and the understanding that you can be a small business or have a staff – you have as much social responsibility and impact that a large company and you should act accordingly.
Q: Have you struggled with self-doubt as an entrepreneur? How do you handle this?
A: Absolutely. I still do. It’s human and it will happen. This is partly because I want to cause positive change so strongly that I will sometimes set unrealistic expectations on myself or try to do too much at once. I learned my lesson when my body basically forced me to sit down and take certain things off my plate. From there, the navigation had to start with understanding that even impacting a person’s life is still a big change. I don’t have to change the world overnight to be able to validate myself and erase my doubts. I also had to understand that I would fail, but that is not the determination of my whole being, my value or my character. Taking calculated risks, whether successful or not, is part of the entrepreneurial journey – it really is part of anyone’s journey. You build resilience not by running away from those moments of self-doubt and failures, but by embracing them and not internalizing them. I had to unlearn so many things to get to this mindset, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have my moments in the future, and that’s perfectly normal.
Q: Did you feel like giving up? What made you persist?
A: I definitely had my moments. What kept me going was reliving and remembering the times when I was told what my value would be, who I had to become, or where I felt worse. I do what I do because I don’t want others to experience some of the obstacles and traumas that I have encountered. If they are going through them, I want to provide them with the support and resources to get through them. Also, proving people wrong and going out of my way to do things I’ve been told I can’t and shouldn’t do is my favorite hobby, especially in the name of disrupting for good and destroy the barriers.
Q: We dare you to brag: what accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: The visibility that I was lucky to have. I never thought I would be a guest speaker on a podcast, let alone several, or conduct interviews where I had the opportunity to speak about the importance of showcasing mental health. The visibility of women who look like me and share a similar background was not common in my childhood and I am proud to have the opportunity to offer this to younger generations. Being a potential source of inspiration is something I don’t take lightly.
Q: How do you celebrate successes along the way?
A: Collectively and individually. Collectively, I celebrate with my family and loved ones because I haven’t gotten to where I am alone. There has always been a person or a conversation that provided me with the support I needed at some point in my journey, even the negative experiences. But I learned that it was especially important to celebrate individually because, like many people whose development and growth were characterized by harsh criticism and judgment, I believed that success meant I had to achieve perfection. I have sought to define this by destroying myself first, even when it was not necessary, by dimming my light or minimizing my accomplishments. If I could give anyone heartfelt advice, celebrating yourself with yourself is an essential part of building character. If you can’t celebrate yourself and be sincere about it, you can’t sincerely celebrate and support others.
Q: How would you describe your journey in a few sentences? Would you like to start all over again?
A: Sometimes chaotic, but definitely an adventure. If I had to do it again, I could do without some of the more negative experiences. But at the end of the day, I want to love what I do and be unabashedly who I am while I do it. I would absolutely do these moments of authenticity again.
Q: What’s next for you and Equity Through Liberation?
A: I conducted various training and operational set-ups for different companies, but I took a break before accepting new clients. I am focusing on my academic background and working towards obtaining my doctorate in educational management and leadership. Who knows what the future holds after this, but I can’t wait to shake things up.
Pascale is a member of dreamers and doersa private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more on dreamers and doers and subscribe to their monthly The summary for the best entrepreneurial and professional resources.
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