Until recently, Black women in leadership positions in business were a rarity. The march of progress has been slow. However, as more and more women of color break through the glass ceiling, they shatter stereotypes regarding black women’s leadership capabilities.
Here, we’ll explore the world of black CEO leadership, including some of the most admirable businesswomen of modern times who have climbed to the top of the business world.
Black Women Make Fortune 500 History
Recently, two Black women CEOs, Thasunda Brown Duckett and Rosalind Brewer, grabbed headlines around the world as they made this year’s Fortune 500 list.
Thasunda Brown Duckett of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and Rosalind Brewer of Walgreens Boots alliance are inspiring young Black girls around the world – particularly in the US but also across the globe – to believe in themselves. What once seemed an impossibility to imagine (a Black woman in charge of a major corporation) is now printed for the world to see in one of the world’s most prestigious lists, the Fortune 500.
Despite their enormous successes, both Brown Duckett and Brewer have expressed awareness that they did not make that list alone; indeed, they “stand on the shoulders of giants” who came before them – icons like Rosa Parks and the countless scores of other Black women who have stood up and demanded their rights since the movement for equal rights began.
The Fight For Equal Representation Continues
Despite the successes of these two notable and extraordinary black women, the fact remains that Blacks, and particularly Black women, remain woefully underrepresented in boardrooms across the country. Despite accounting for 13% of the population, Black Americans occupy just 5% of management positions in the Fortune 500 companies that record and offer this type of data. What this shows, as Brown Duckett and Brewer have pointed out, is that there is still a long road ahead in terms of fighting for a fair piece of the American pie.
Among companies on the S&P 500, for example, 29.6% do not have a single Black board member. This is an affront to every single Black American who has historically been shut out of the top positions in the business world.
We must continue to demand that Black voices are represented, not just as tokens, but as fully equal and respected members of the business community.