By Gary J. Nix
- As of right now, there are only 6 Black CEOs in the Fortune 500
- In 2021, only 1% of CEOs were African-Americans, 3.4% were Hispanic, and 2.4% were East or South Asian
Companies vowed to make positive changes in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion with the eyes of the country on them. The fact of the matter is that as of 2021, the number of white male CEOs at Fortune 500 companies has still hovered around 90%, while approximately 1% of CEOs were African-Americans, 3.4% were Hispanic, and 2.4% were East or South Asian. Unfortunately, in reality, the “anyone can do anything” narrative does not extend to the corporate world. CEOs of color are still a rarity, and white men continue to dominate the C-suite.
Why This Matters: In America, the story is that anyone can become anything they want to be if they work hard enough and dream big enough. People celebrate the rags-to-riches stories of those who started with nothing and made it to the top. We even had a Black president, though we can’t get a double digit number of Black CEOs. White men held 96.4% of the Fortune 500 CEO positions in 2000; as of early 2021, that number still hovered around 90%, according to research from professors at Guilford College in North Carolina.
It’s quite easy to remember the summer of 2020 and the promises made by companies after the murder of George Floyd. While we’ve seen some change, we still have a ways to go, especially in the Chief Executive Officer position. Furthermore, a significant amount of the little progress we’ve seen in diversity is due largely to the ascent of white women into the C-suite. While gender representation is also a major DEI issue at the top, we still have a long way before the C-suite looks anything close to representative of America. Until then, the enduring whiteness of the C-suite will continue to be a problem.
Situational Awareness: CEO diversity has been lacking for some time now, and we know it’s not improving fast enough at Fortune 500 companies. Many factors contribute to this problem, including the corporate world remaining a boys’ club and unconscious bias that benefits white men’s ability to network and build relationships with other white men. Yet and still, the call for corporations to be more representative of the United States of America exists, coupled with the countless studies that prove diversity at the top leads to more revenue and profitability, companies need to work harder at making the necessary changes.
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