By CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF president, and Giles Woodyer, Hennesy Senior Vice President
Harry L. Williams is the president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the largest organization exclusively representing the black college community. Before joining TMCF, he spent eight years as president of Delaware State University. Follow him on Twitter at @DrHLWilliams.
In his role as Senior Vice President, Giles Woodyer brings unparalleled expertise in distilled spirits to Moët Hennessy USA, where he manages the portfolio for Hennessy, the world’s best-selling cognac.
When companies announce a commitment towards achieving more corporate diversity, what do they really mean? For too many young African Americans, these commitments seem more like empty promises.
To date, there have only been fourteen black CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, and according to Fortune, there are just three in 2019. So how can corporations remove barriers and create access for emerging, multicultural leaders?
Diverse Partnerships to Drive Change
Since 1987, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) has prepared and identified students at 47 publicly supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to thrive in the business sector. When Hennessy, the world’s best-selling Cognac, approached TMCF with an innovative idea involving HBCU graduate students, especially those earning MBA degrees – there was an immediate organizational alignment to improve the current corporate narrative. Together, TMCF and Hennessy conceived the Hennessy Fellows program with the goal of building a pipeline of diverse corporate leaders from HBCUs.
The Hennessy Fellows initiative is the latest example of Hennessy’s commitment to supporting African American communities. In 1794, Hennessy arrived in the U.S. and has consistently demonstrated a progressive vision to amplify multicultural voices since. As an early supporter of the Tuskegee Institute and the first corporate sponsor of the NAACP, the brand continues to champion those who “Never stop. Never settle.” with its new fellowship program in partnership with TMCF.
Yet, ascending to the highest levels of corporate leadership requires having access to more than just an ivy-league education. African American leaders need opportunities to learn development skills, build their network, develop business acumen, and gain tangible professional experiences. Not to mention, the unspoken corporate rules that many HBCU students don’t have ready access to. Hennessy Fellows is designed to unlock the C-Suite’s secrets by equipping leaders with access and mentorship.
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Source: Black Press USA