Only 3 black CEOs currently lead Fortune 500 companies
- The number of African-American CEOs at Fortune 500 companies fell to a low not seen since 2012's list, the outlet reports.
- Two black CEOs have stepped down in recent years — Kenneth Chenault of American Express and Ursula Burns of Xerox — leaving Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Marvin Ellison of J.C. Penney and Roger Ferguson Jr. of TIAA as the only remaining sitting members of this contingent. Additionally, four out of the five open Fortune 500 corporate board seats in 2016 were filled by white appointees.
- According to Fortune, there have been 16 black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies since 1999.
Neither Fortune article spells out the specific barriers to entry for African Americans into the Fortune 500 C-suite. But if black professionals aren't being sponsored in sufficient numbers for organizational leadership roles in, few will reach the executive level, let alone head up major companies. African-American women and other women of color express feelings of being undervalued or even invisible in some cases.
Recruiters often claim they can't find qualified women, nonwhites or other under-represented groups in the workplace for job openings. But another aspect of the process that shouldn't be overlooked is creating a workplace in which those candidates feel accepted and able to contribute.
Companies that are committed to hiring and retaining a diverse staff benefit both culturally and financially from different viewpoints and experiences, studies show. As human capital experts, HR leaders can drive this effort in their organizations.