By John Kell
January 29, 2015

When McDonald’s Chief Executive Don Thompson retires from his leadership role at the fast-food chain at the beginning of March, only four Fortune 500 companies will be steered by an African American leader.

Thompson’s retirement, which was announced on Wednesday and came less than a week after McDonald’s (MCD) reported a fifth consecutive quarter of declining same-store sales in the U.S., will hurt CEO diversity among the top Fortune 500 companies. Thomson, an executive with 24 years of experience at McDonald’s, became CEO in 2012 and was replaced by another insider, Steve Easterbrook. Easterbrook is white.

Thompson’s exit has not been viewed as racially motivated in any way as McDonald’s has faced a ton of challenges. For example, 2014 became the first year since 2002 that the fast-food giant suffered a global decline in sales at outlets open for at least a year.

But his retirement will temporarily diminish diversity for the Fortune 500. C-suites are overwhelmingly white, as Fortune has previously reported. J.C. Penney (JCP) will help improve diversity later this year, when Marvin Ellison, an African American, will become CEO in August. Ellison had worked at Home Depot (HD) and Target (TGT).

Here is a look at the other four Fortune 500 companies that are led by an African American. All but one were insiders that worked their way up the ranks to eventually claim the top leadership role.


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