The federal holiday to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. has evolved since its inception in 1986. But there is one tradition that Kelley Cornish, TD's Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, always makes sure to follow.
"The commemoration of his legacy inspires me to push the envelope a little bit more in all areas of my life and be the voice of change that is needed in spite of resistance," said Kelley, "What inspires me most about Dr. King's life is the courageous leadership that he embodied. He spoke the truth to power and led with such confidence and conviction."
For Kelley, the realization of Dr. King's dream has been her life's work as she has dedicated her career to those ideals in her more than 25 years working in Diversity & Inclusion. In 2017, Kelley joined TD as Head of U.S. Diversity and Inclusion for TD Bank. In November, she was promoted to become the first Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for the TD Bank Group.
Kelley shared her thoughts below on the holiday and the impact of Dr. King's legacy.
What are some of the shared values that TD Bank has with Dr. King and his quest for racial equality and social justice?
From equality to leadership to education, Dr. King had endless values as a leader during the Civil Rights Era. At TD, we strive to Be the Better Bank through enriching the lives of our customers, communities and colleagues.
Being the Better Bank aligns with so many of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s beliefs. He often spoke of community, equality, human dignity, justice and service. These are all values we instill in our professionals to embrace diversity and respect one another. This is key in how we build relationships with our customers, as well as support the communities where our customers and colleagues live and thrive.
What would be the most critical step that needs to be made in the next decade so that we can achieve MLK's dream?
To continue to bring Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream alive as a society and as businesses we need to be intentional and bold in moving from awareness to action. This comes with continuous education with respect for one another.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education." Dr. King said. So many times we take for granted that people know about the lives and shoes that others walk in, however this is usually not the case.
We really need work sessions in our businesses and communities committed to listening, hearing and seeking to understand another person's perspective on how they live, what they believe, how they feel they can bring their best self to work and how these perspectives intersect with an organization's core values.
I've dedicated my professional life to the achievement of Martin Luther King's dream. We've made significant progress, but there is still much work to be done. It's a challenge that I feel is the most important one we face, not only in the U.S. but globally as well. I look forward to continuing the fight for racial equality and justice.