On November 2, the Salt Lake Chamber will honor six outstanding businesswomen at the 2023 Women & Business Conference and ATHENA Awards Luncheon. One of these women is Deneiva Knight, External Affairs Director at Comcast, who has been chosen as a Pathfinder honoree. Get to know this 2023 Pathfinder by reading below:
This year’s Women & Business Conference theme is “Thriving in the Hive.” What does that mean to you?
For me, thriving in the hive represents how, as women, we can thrive in a room or world full of other women. Because there are so few of us in leadership roles, we may develop a scarcity mentality that can weaken our ability and will to support other women in professional settings. What is for me will be mine. This personal philosophy is true for all of us. Helping other women, taking an interest in others, and identifying ways to sponsor, create pathways, and provide feedback are part of a collective effort to improve women’s experience in the workplace.
How did you overcome any challenges or obstacles you faced on your professional journey?
I’ve overcome some challenges by developing a deeper relationship with myself outside of work. During the pandemic, I learned a lot about myself. I started my career journey in the late 90s, when women, especially Black women, could not bring our most valuable assets to the workplace — our authentic selves. Leaders correct, caution, and discipline women for not fitting the biased leadership archetype. Because of these unavoidable consequences, like many other women during this time, I understood that to be successful, I must become pliable. Thus, I had to create a version of myself that was more digestible and easier to do business with. Now, with this newfound sense of Self, I have chosen to advocate for myself — to vocalize my concerns about bias and microaggressions in the workplace, and to shed the burdens of corporate’s definition of executive presence.
What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of? Why?
I am most proud of activating a social justice speaker series following the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd. Many of my friends and colleagues reached out, wanting to know how they could offer support and contribute to actively transforming the landscape of social justice and equity. The series’ design created a space for folks of all backgrounds to engage in dialog and offered actionable ways for anyone to support the cause personally. This series kept me sane during a time of so many unknowns — working on this project allowed me to focus on what I could control instead of spiraling from the negativity and injustice that was extremely loud at the time.
What advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs or business professionals?
Often, women are put in leadership positions and receive promotions with little to no support, mentorship, sponsorship, or resources. We are called upon to make miracles happen while navigating internal politics and systemic barriers that do not favor us. My advice is don’t compromise your “self” and your mental health for your job or career; continue to advocate for yourself even when doing so creates waves. Most importantly, rest and connect. I encourage women to unplug, get outside, and carve out time for self-reflection, and to find a supportive group of women outside of your organization.
What are your favorite ways to give back to your community or industry?
I love joining working boards or committees. I can make the most impact in these spaces versus just showing up to vote on board agenda items. Working alongside other community leaders with a shared goal and vision to solve Utah’s pain points brings me joy. Some of my closest friendships have come from first working closely on community boards or committees. In this space, you can get to know someone and feel a shared sense of accomplishment when you hit your goal.
Deneiva Knight is a dedicated community champion with extensive experience and a strong passion for strategic storytelling, as well as making a positive impact on society and communities. Alongside her main role, Knight is also an entrepreneur. She holds the position of CEO at EluVen Ventures, LLC, where she collaborates with co-founder and COO, Nicole Dossous. EluVen aims to offer professional women a haven from corporate pressures through carefully cultivated outdoor experiences, professional development products, and training. EluVen spaces encourage vulnerability and provides the resources and tools needed to navigate the unique challenges that women frequently encounter in the workplace.