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Blindness to the value of diversity costs consumers, investors and the US economy. More and more black women entrepreneurs are succeeding. The ability to start a business and grow it into a success embodies the American Dream. Increasingly, it is Black women who are grasping the brass ring. They are embracing entrepreneurship at an unprecedented rate. Between 2014 and 2019, their numbers increased by 50% — higher than any other racial or ethnic group, according to the American Express 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses.*
Davielle Jackson started Femi Secrets in 2013. Walmart was the first big-box retailer to understand the market potential for a fashionable all-in-one pad and panty for women's periods. The panty is disposable, biodegradable, safe, and its design patented. Chemicals used in tampons belong on a growing list of potentially hazardous personal care products, according to Markham Heid in an article for Time. Even brands that claim to be safe may not be: Scientist alleges one feminine hygiene brand is not safe.
You have your plan all laid out and then, wham! The road ahead is closed. Savvy entrepreneurs take detours to get them where they want to go. Despite personal and business roadblocks, Tiffany Jana is still on the road to success as a black woman in tech. Roadblocks have caused her to detour but not to give up.
Jana was born into the diversity and inclusion field. Her mother, Deborah Threadgill Egerton, was a civil rights activist who went on to pioneer the diversity and inclusion field. Egerton became one of the first people to help organizations grapple with the reality of a diverse workforce. The field started as social justice. It was about doing the right thing. With evidence that a diverse workforce improves the bottom line, the field has grown in importance. Now it’s a business imperative.
When I interviewed Jeannie Ringo, founder and CEO at Funding U, I remember what Larry Keeley, president and co-founder at Dublin Group, and managing director at Deloitte Consulting told me — men and women innovate differently. I interviewed him several years ago when he published Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. Women approach problem-solving holistically and systematically, he commented. They are not looking for a simple answer and, as a result, create comprehensive solutions.
You never know when you’ll get that big break, in Hollywood or in business. Do your homework, lay the groundwork and you may be as lucky as this woman. Four and half years ago, the big pharma company for which Li Hayes worked, called her into the office for a 3 p.m. meeting on a Sunday. "This is not going to be good news," she thought to herself. Sure enough, the company was closing the local Connecticut division for which she worked. Over the next 24 months, as the director of HR, her job was to fire 250 people. A thankless task if ever there was one!
The experience shaped Hayes' decision not to seek another corporate job. As luck would have it, her brother's career as a keynote speaker was taking off and he needed assistance. Now she manages the careers of several keynote speakers. But this was just the first stop on her entrepreneurial journey.