By Lelsey Green-Rennis
- Rosalind Brewer’s departure from Walgreens Boots Alliance leaves the S&P 500 with zero Black female CEO’s
- Black directors made up 15% of the newly appointed board members last year, a drop from 26% in 2021
The departure of Rosalind Brewer from Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA -0.86%). leaves the S&P 500 with zero Black female CEO’s. Unfortunately, this underscores how little progress has been made in diversifying America’s C-suite. Before Brewer’s arrival in 2021, there had not been a Black woman at the helm of an S&P 500 company in five years.
Why This Matters: From 2019 to 2021, the percentage of white male Fortune 500 CEOs increased from 85.6% to 86%. Although Black women comprise 8.3% of all employees, they are just 1.8% of executives. Brewer’s departure drops the number of Black Fortune 500 CEOs from four to three.
It takes years for an executive to reach the top and even longer for executives of color. Big corporations often recruit from the nation’s top, elite colleges, where money and connections gain entry. Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the use of race in college admissions, it’s likely that fewer women of color will be in the pipeline. This and the amount of time needed to reach the top will likely result in years until the S&P 500 has another Black female CEO.
There are some strides being made at the c-suite level. For the first time in Fortune’s 68-year history, women are leading more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies, none of them are Black. On the board director front things are moving in the opposite direction. Black directors made up 15% of the newly appointed board members last year, a drop from 26% in 2021.
Situational Awareness: This is not a good look for Fortune 500 CEOs, especially because research reveals that when companies put African-American leaders at the helm, stocks jump and stronger market footholds are made. A medium-sized firm that appoints a Black executive will experience a 3.1% increase in market capitalization within three days of an announcement. Brewer’s departure calls into question just how committed corporations are to equity and diversity.
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