January 27, 2023

More Women Are Becoming Fortune 500 CEOs, But Only Three Of Them Are WOC

According to Her Agenda, for the first time in Fortune’s 68-year history, women are leading more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies. 

A historical moment for women in business  

The report shows that this milestone was reached after five new women began their roles as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies – pushing the percentage balance to 10%.

“Women as CEOs isn’t an oddity anymore,” said Jane Stevenson, global leader for the CEO succession practice at Korn Ferry. 

“It’s not the majority, but it’s not an oddity. So, 10% makes it more and more normal – and less risky, subconsciously, to put a woman in the top spot.” 

Although more women spearheading Fortune 500 companies shows that the tide is finally turning, a lot of work still needs to be done to get more Black and brown women into leadership positions. 

According to Fortune, the largest corporations in the U.S. – also known as Fortune 500 companies – make the most revenue out of all sectors. 

Many look to them to understand the current state of the business world – so it is disheartening that these companies do not reflect the continent’s diversity overall. 

Meet The Black Women Leading Fortune 500 Companies 

The exciting milestone is a bittersweet reminder that not enough Black and brown women are getting seats at the table. Three minority women CEOs spearhead Fortune 500 companies – a slight improvement from last year. 

“The increase in women and Black Fortune 500 CEOs is an indication that diversity is a winning strategy. Better strategic decisions are made through collaboration and having diverse perspectives with a seat at the table,” said Terri Williams, president and COO at OneUnited Bank. 

Thasunda Brown Duckett – CEO of TIAA 

According to reports, in 2021, Thasunda Brown Duckett became the third Black female CEO to be highlighted by Fortune. 

Duckett – who describes herself as the ultimate daddy’s girl – credits her humble beginnings for her success, which showed her that anything is possible. 

From an early age, Duckett says her father taught her to shoot for the moon because she would be amongst the stars even if she missed. 

The New York native believes her humble beginnings helped her build tenacity, work ethic, and faith. In addition, she felt connected to building financial security and finding a way to pass something down to the generation after her. 

“We didn’t have a lot. We had our financial insecurities. We had our ups and downs, but through it all, our faith and values were at the center of everything,” Duckett said

“When I think about the opportunity to lead and to be in a position to have a voice, it’s deep within me because I know that I can be the change.” 

Rosalind Brewer – CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance

Two years ago, Rosalind “Roz” Brewer became the second Black female CEO to lead a Fortune 500 company. 

According to the CEO, bringing her whole self to work has been vital to her success. Despite being one of the only Black women in her position and field, Brewer is determined to do everything she can to change the environment around her. 

“Many times I am called upon and asked to give my opinion on diversity issues, and I am as frank as I can possibly be because I do think I hold a unique position,” Brewer explained in an interview.  

“I take advantage of an opportunity to learn and educate those around me because I can feel it when they’re unfamiliar with me or my culture. I don’t hide my culture. I talk about it very openly.” 

CEO Lisa Su – Advanced Micro Devices 

Dr. Lisa Su is the chair and chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). In 2019, Su became the first woman to become the highest-paid CEO, according to reports.  

Dr. Lisa Su, born in Taiwan and immigrated to the U.S. at a young age, worked up to lead the most remarkable turnaround in technology. 

“I spent my career in semiconductors – there aren’t that many large U.S. semiconductor companies. So I was really excited to become CEO,” Su said in an interview with CNN Business

Su has been described as one of the most powerful women in tech after taking her company from the brink of bankruptcy to a 1,300% stock gain. 

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Kumba Kpakima

Kumba Kpakima is a reporter at POCIT. A documentary about the knife crime epidemic in the UK got her a nomination for the UK's #30toWatch Young Journalists of the Year.