Choir with Sonya Dreizler, Episode #143

Choir with Sonya Dreizler

Sonya Dreizler is the Co-Founder of the financial services diversity tech platform, “Choir,” as well as a speaker and author focused on fostering candid conversations about gender and race in financial services. She seeks to amplify the voices of women and people of color in finance.

Sonya is a sought-after speaker for national financial services conferences, writes for Morningstar, and is the author of the acclaimed “Do Better Series” about sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination in financial services.

She is a former financial services CEO with two decades of industry experience. She is a respected leader, practical thinker, and consensus-builder with excellent communication skills.

Sonya previously spent 13 years at Protected Investors of America, a boutique Broker Dealer and SEC registered Investment Adviser. She started at the firm as an executive assistant and took on increasing roles in the firm, eventually rising to COO, and then CEO.

Sonya is a member of the Racial Justice Investment Coalition and sits on advisory boards for several industry events, initiatives, and companies. Listen in for some great takeaways about the impact Sonya and Choir are making on the financial services profession.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Learn more about Sonya Dreizler and her career [3:37]
  • What is CHOIR? What are their objectives? [8:13]
  • What caused Sonya to break away from the corporate mold [11:55]
  • Why the “Do Better” series was created [17:21]
  • Why having these conversations is critical [21:05]
  • How can you become an ally? [24:15]
  • Sonya’s hope for the future of the profession [30:52]
  • What Sonya did today that brought her joy [32:20]

What is Choir? What are their objectives?

Choir’s goal is to amplify the voices of people of color on conference stages and in the media. Sonya and her co-founder work directly with conferences to help them bring more representation to the stage. They also offer a diversity certification that conferences can earn based on how well they showcase the voices of people of color, women, and non-binary people.

To award this certification, they look at who is speaking and the visibility of the spots. For example, a keynote speaker gets far more visibility than someone who is part of a panel. They utilize 8 different visibility factors and score the conferences on a scale of 1 to 100. Conferences that score high enough get certified. They also offer services, tools, resources, and consulting to help conferences.

Choir includes a platform called “Voices” where the same underrepresented people can create profiles that showcase their subject matter expertise. They’re asked numerous questions on their intake form so the searches can be granular enough for both journalists and conference organizers to find the best match.

The finance industry is overwhelmingly white men. It can be hard for conference organizers and journalists to find diverse voices. Choir is striving to change that.

What caused Sonya to break away from the corporate mold

Sonya was 34 when she became CEO of a financial services company, which is pretty young in the world of finance. She felt like she had to look the corporate part. She couldn’t afford to be herself.

She felt like she had too many things going against her as a young woman without a finance background. So she kept her personal and professional lives siloed. She didn’t realize how challenging this facade was until she didn’t have to do it anymore.

The hardest part was that Sonya felt like she couldn’t write about what she was passionate about. But once she didn’t have to filter everything through a compliance department, she felt like her unique voice could be heard.

Why the “Do Better Series” was created

Sonya started writing the “Do Better Series” to give a voice to women who have been wronged and are afraid to share their stories. The series consists of 10 articles that Sonya published in 2019.

They detail real stories from real women in finance about gender-based harassment, discrimination, and assault. Each article shares the broader issue and what can be done to fix the systems both individually and institutionally.

Women read these stories and feel seen, heard, and feel like they’re not alone. Women aren’t alone and it isn’t their fault that they’re underpaid or harassed.

Secondly, many men don’t know what’s happening. They need to know what’s going on so they can do something to help.

How can you become an ally?

Anyone can become an ally. White people need to speak up and address race and social justice issues.

Sonya thinks about allyship in a few ways:

  • Transferring the trust that people have in you onto another person
  • Transferring your inside knowledge (i.e. telling people who to meet with, where to go, etc.)
  • Someone who steps in when they see something happening

When Sonya was a CEO—and at a conference only for executives—she attended a networking event. Someone went to get drinks at a bar for Sonya and five other men. This person joked about putting roofies in her drink. No one said anything. They just laughed. She felt unsafe and uncomfortable.

The next day, someone came up and apologized to her for what the other man said. He should have said something in the moment, especially to the person who made the offensive joke.

Men have become more open and receptive to hearing and believing these stories. More women are willing to share their stories publicly. But a lot more change needs to happen. Listen to hear what Sonya’s hope is for the future of the financial services industry.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Sonya Dreizler

Bio

Sonya Dreizler is the co-founder of financial services diversity tech platform Choir, as well as a speaker and author focused on fostering candid conversations about gender and race in financial services.

In addition to her work at Choir, a diversity-tech platform focused on amplifying the voices of women and people of color in finance, Sonya is a sought after speaker for national financial services conferences, writes for Morningstar, and is the author of the acclaimed Do Better Series about sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination in financial services.

She is a former financial services CEO with two decades of industry experience. She is a respected leader, practical thinker, and consensus-builder with excellent communication skills.

Sonya previously spent 13 years at Protected Investors of America, a boutique Broker Dealer and SEC registered Investment Adviser. She started at the firm as an executive assistant and took on increasing roles in the firm, eventually rising to COO, and then CEO. For in depth details on her work experience, please see her LinkedIn profile.

She previously held the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation as well as the Series 7, 66, 24, and 28 securities licenses. She is a recipient of the Investment News 40 Under 40 award, is a 2018 LinkedIn Top Voices Recipient, is on the Refinitiv Social 100 list for 2020, and was in Financial Planning’s 20 people to watch for 2020. She is a member of the Racial Justice Investment Coalition, and sits on advisory boards for several industry events, initiatives, and companies. Sonya speaks frequently at conferences, including virtually, and has published articles and been quoted in numerous trade publications. You can hear her in conversation with industry leaders on top podcasts.

Sonya is on the board of Foodwise, a nonprofit dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Sonya earned a BA from UCLA in English Literature and speaks fluent Spanish. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two sons and she enjoys traveling with her family, weight lifting, gardening, and cooking.

Connect With Mitlin Financial

Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.

Subscribe to Mitlin Money Mindset® on
Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts

Get in Touch

In just minutes we can get to know your situation, then connect you with an advisor committed to helping you pursue true wealth.

Contact Us

Stay Connected

Business professional using his tablet to check his financial numbers

401(k) Calculator

Determine how your retirement account compares to what you may need in retirement.

Get Started