In spite of all the progress made in Black representation in America, these advances have yet to translate to the C-suite in corporate America. With the resignation of Tapestry CEO Jide Zeitlin in July 2020 and Merk CEO Kenneth Frazier in June 2021, the number of Black CEOs among the Fortune 500 dropped to a woeful four. The newest addition to that list is Rosalind Brewer, the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance and previously the Starbucks’ chief operating officer.
Over the complete history of the Fortune 500, which dates back to 1999, there have only been a total of 19 Black CEOs leading America’s Fortune 500 companies. The peak year for representation was 2012, when a still-anemic total of six Black CEOs led corporate America’s most prominent companies. As Black History Month unfolds, it’s a good time to take a closer look at the four Black CEOs paving the way for future leaders of color.
Rosalind Brewer: Walgreen’s Boots Alliance
Rosalind Brewer was appointed the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance in March 2021 and is one of the two Black women who have led a fortune 500 company. Her salary is reportedly $8 million a year and her net worth primarily comes from stock trades. Brewer owns over 190 units of stock in Starbucks and has sold over $3,49,372 worth of Starbucks stock over the past 13 years.
Previously to her role at WBA, Brewer served as chief operating officer and group president at Starbucks from 2017 to 2021. Brewer was additionally president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club from 2012 to 2017. She is ranked #6 on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business
Thasunda Brown Duckett: TIAA
Thasunda Brown Duckett joined TIAA in 2021 as President and Executive Officer and is estimated to be receiving an annual salary of $20 million. Prior to joining the company, Duckett served as chief executive officer of Chase Consumer Banking.
Duckett also serves on the board of NIKE, Inc, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, National Medal of Honor Museum and the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Duckett additionally founded the Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation in honor of her parents, in order to reward those who empower and build up their community in remarkable ways.
Marvin Ellison: Lowe’s
Before he began his executive career, Marvin Ellison earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Memphis, followed by an MBA at Emory University. Ellison then served 15 years in a variety of operational and leadership roles at Target before moving on to Home Depot, where he spent an additional 12 years in high-level operations roles.
Ellison’s first stint as a CEO came when he took the reins at J.C. Penney, where he also served as chairman. After reducing debt and generating positive sales and earnings growth, he moved on to the position he now holds at Lowe’s.
Rene Jones: M&T Bank
Rene Jones has worked his way up through the ranks at M&T Bank, beginning as an executive associate way back in 1992. After working his way up through the bank’s finance division, Jones served as the company’s CFO from 2005 to 2016 before taking the reins as CEO in December 2017.
Prior to his career at M&T, Jones earned a B.S. in management science from Boston College and an MBA from the University of Rochester. Among other community- and service-oriented organizations, he serves on the boards of the Jacobs Institute, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Federal Advisory Council and the Burchfield Penney Art Center. He was recognized as one of America’s best CFOs in 2012 by Institutional Investor, and dubbed Outstanding Accountant in Western New York by Canisius University in 2016.
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