Representation of women in the workplace drops off by more than 75 percent for women of color, according to a 2021 study of corporate women workers.
Even more discouraging, a 2020 survey from the Gallup Center on Black Voices found that Black women are disproportionally represented in lower-wage jobs and are more likely to have a full-time minimum wage job. Further, only 26 percent of Black women feel like they are being treated fairly at work and only 13 percent of them feel there are plenty of opportunities for good jobs in their communities—the lowest percentages amongst all groups surveyed.
Precious Freeman and Delores Moody, two Black women attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic while—as conventional wisdom teaches us—“working twice as hard to get half as far,” are navigating these turbulent times with the weight of those institutional disparities on their backs.
Precious is a director of development in Birmingham, Alabama, while Delores is a coordinator for a mentoring program in New York City. These women represent two very different locations, but they share an enthusiasm for entrepreneurship birthed from creativity and necessity.
“What I believed is that you should go to a company and stay there forever,” Precious shares with MADAMENOIRE. “Give them 10 years and really get in there and plant some roots. But I would watch other people, especially millennials and Gen Z, leave companies after being there for one year.”
This bravery and willingness to try new things inspired Precious, so when an opportunity presented itself—to start BFC management, a community relations company that supports other businesses, corporations, institutions and organizations—she grabbed it. Freeman shared she got the chance to “build systems and structure around movements,” and to promote and preserve Black culture via community.
Because of her mother and grandmother, Precious grew up surrounded by hardworking women, but not women who had taken such grand leaps of faith; so, there was no road map or guide for her to follow. Still, just like the courage her grandmother displayed when she earned her high school diploma at 48 years old, Precious is teaching her daughters to work toward manifesting their dreams even when they’re afraid.
Delores also took a leap of faith. At first, she was content with delivering desserts to the youth programs she serves. That all changed, though, when a friend told her that his wife wanted to buy a cake. He encouraged Delores to sell the desserts she would freely share, and the rest—as they say—is herstory. Soon after, her dessert business, Moody Treats, began slowly gaining a following online.
For entrepreneurs, she says, “Educate yourself on the business and the market. Receive support from the services that are available. Speak with other business owners that are doing what you wish to do. Surround yourself with people that are building businesses.”
Though her mother was an entrepreneur, Delores was particularly impacted by a woman named Earthly Paradise, an employee of the National Council for Negro Women located in Jamaica, Queens. She says, “She just helped me connect the dots. And I’ve been moving forward ever since.”
Precious and Delores both still have full-time jobs, but they have goals to impact the Black community.
“I really want to be used by God to advance Blackness.” Precious says. “I think about my grandparents and great grandparents, the prayers that have been prayed and maybe seem to have gone unanswered in their lifetimes. I feel it’s harvest time. And I strongly believe that I’m placed where I can make that happen.”
Still, Precious knows her journey won’t be easy. “I don’t know when I’ll get to see things come to fruition,” she said with determination in her voice. “But I know I really want to move things along as fast as I can.”
Delores wants to start a nonprofit in her neighborhood that combines her two passions—baking and working with youth often dismissed and discriminated against.
“[We have] these gifts for a reason,” Delores says. “And they help take us out of the everyday struggle.”
Precious and Delores show us that having agency and belief in their own gifts and talents translated their entrepreneurial drive into monetizable opportunities. And, by doing so, they give all Black women the gift of motivation and belief that we can do the same.