While the T.D. Jakes Foundation is known as a reflection of the values and priorities of the world-famous, Dallas-based televangelist T.D. Jakes, its president and CEO Kelley Cornish is establishing herself as an activist on behalf of Black women in Corporate America and African American woman-owned businesses.
“There is a trend with Black women leaving Corporate America for many reasons including a lack of leadership support and recognition while feeling undervalued in their roles in the workplace more than any other racial group,” said Cornish, 54. “This is on top of their personal struggles where many are juggling caregiving, insufficient health advice, finances and access to capital needed to create advancement and generational wealth. We want to be part of the solution for these women.”
Supporting Black women in corporate positions and in their businesses is one of the tenets of the foundation. U.S. Census data in 2020 reported that Black women constitute 7.7% of the American population. However, Lean In’s 2020 report: “The State of Black Women in Corporate America,”reveals only 1.6% Black women in vice presidential roles and 1.4% executive level positions in companies.
Black women business owners are 37.2% of all African American-owned businesses and represent the fastest growing demographic as far as entrepreneurship is concerned, but they only account for 0.91% of all businesses and 4.23% of women-owned businesses, according to a post on the Brookings Institute website, according to a May 2023 Brookings piece.
Black Women in Corporate America
Cornish has served in executive-level positions of diversity and inclusion for Wells Fargo, TD Bank Group, AmeriHealth Caritas and the Children’s Museum of Philadelphia. She said many Black women in Corporate America are first generation in terms of working in that sector and are largely unfamiliar with its modes and customs.
“We didn’t belong to the country club,” said Cornish. “During our Sunday talks with our families at the dinner table, we didn’t talk about stocks and bonds and investment funds. There is so much many of us didn’t know when we entered Corporate America.”
Cornish said corporate behavior such as aggressively seeking a higher salary with bosses was an experience many Black women didn’t know how to approach. She offered solutions for African American females stuck in the corporate grind.
“Learn how to network effectively and actively seek out mentors,” she said. “Always be willing to share information with others. Learn all you can about your profession and your job.”
Cornish realizes that many Black women have grown weary of Corporate America and want to create their own enterprises.
“You want to have something of your own,” she said. “You want to show the world what you can do. You want to move on from the company because you no longer want to be stifled.”
Cornish said getting capital to open a business is tough, but it can be done.
“There are so many ways to get capital,” she said. “Build a strong relationship with a banker. Work to get investors in your business. The key to getting capital is to open your network and let people know that you are in business. Take courses and get an education on how to raise capital.”
Working at the T.D. Jakes Foundation
Cornish said that through the foundation, she wants to change the conversation on the way women approach the workplace.
“I want to work to make sure that young girls get into careers and not become hourly employees,” Cornish said. “We want to help them get out of poverty. Our leader, T.D. Jakes is mind-boggling. He is ready to pour back into people who want to better their lives.”
Jakes said hiring Cornish will improve the foundation’s focus and execution of its mission.
“Bringing Kelley to lead the foundation is a strategic and advantageous relationship that will help our efforts in a unique and inventive way,” said Jakes, 66. “We have complete synergy in our visions to uplift communities, and Kelley has the knowledge and experience to bring corporate and community partners to impact people and transform lives.”
Source: Washington Informer