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There Are No Black Women Running Fortune 500 Companies

January 17, 2017, 11:38 PM UTC

Black women have gone from under-represented to unrepresented in the highest echelons of corporate leadership in 2017. But there is a silver lining—at least down the road.

On Jan. 3, Ursula Burns officially stepped down from her role as CEO of Xerox. Her was tenure notable for many things, not the least of which is this dismal fact: She’s the only African American woman to have ever led a Fortune 500 company. Rosalind Brewer, the charismatic CEO of Sam’s Club will be leaving her position next month. Although she has not identified her next move, it still feels like a loss.

My colleague, Valentina Zarya has the whole rundown, including the good news, and bad news, on black women and corporate leadership. Where black women make up only 1.5% of senior-level executives in the private sector, there’s been some tremendous growth among entrepreneurs.

From her story:

The number of black women-owned businesses has more than tripled since 1997, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of black women-owned businesses grew by 67% according to the National Women’s Business Council’s Survey of Business Owners. For comparison: white women-owned businesses has increased by 10.1% within that same timeframe.

All of this makes the inclusion part of your work even more essential. Although I’d love to see more black women find success in executive ranks, diversity comes in many forms—as partners, contractors, and vendors, or through acquisition. With all of this business savvy needing investment, coaching, and contracts, it’s a diversity opportunity in plain sight.

On Point

The missing meaning of Dr. Martin Luther KingThere are many important analyses that seek to dissect how the image of Martin Luther King has been transformed into a sanitized version of a hero acceptable to all. But Jamil Smith manages to also gently weave in the pained nostalgia of black folk, who have also turned the man into a myth. And that, ironically, is something many people share. “As long as King’s radicalism stays missing from our remembrances, it will be easier for people to lay claim to his story—even people who oppose everything King actually stood for.”The New Republic

The new $100 coin depicts Lady Liberty as a woman of color
It’s the first time in U.S. history that Lady Liberty will be portrayed as a woman of color, and she is beautiful. The 24-karat gold coin is to celebrate the U.S. Mint and Treasury’s 225th anniversary; future versions of the coin will feature Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, as well. The coins are struck primarily for collectors, which is probably why I’d never heard of a $100 coin. It sure would be nice to have a secular version to drop at the Piggly Wiggly.
NBC News

Dolls with natural hair survive on Shark Tank
Good news for adults who have been unable to find beautiful dolls of color for the kids in their lives to play with: Angelica and Jason Sweeting survived a visit to ABC’s Shark Tank to win enough of an investment to help them scale Naturally Perfect Dolls, a company making dolls with natural hair and gorgeous features: full noses and lips, high cheekbones and brown eyes. The deal came after the rest of the panel expressed concern about the price point of the dolls but FUBU’s (For Us By Us) Daymond John proposed $200,000 at 30% ownership, with 60% for the founders, and 10% committed to charity. Expect more diverse dolls down the line.


John Lewis continues to inspire young people in spite of it all
Speaking at a breakfast honoring scholarship recipients yesterday, Rep. John Lewis, civil rights icon and award-winning graphic novelist called on young people to use their gifts and their voices to call out injustice. “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something, and not be quiet,” he said to a crowd in Miami. Although under fire for his saying that President Elect Trump was not a “legitimate president,” he did not mention his name.
Wall Street Journal

The Woke Leader

This is why Seattle is so segregated
Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has written a new book called “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” that delves into the role the U.S. government has played in enforcing racial segregation throughout the country. In this interview, he talks about the federal policy designed to deny African Americans access to the suburbs of the 1940s and 1950s, by explicitly denying them access to affordable loans. The practice extended to most major urban areas.

A graphic essay on drawing from the past to survive the future POTUS
For anyone who is feeling uncertain about the upcoming transfer of power, writer and illustrator Christopher Noxon has turned his recent tour of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis into a motivational text that links lessons learned in the 1950s and ‘60s with today’s strange times. “Turns out the Civil Rights Museum has quite a bit to say about this precise historical moment,” he sketches.

How school segregation is perpetuated by good people with good intentions
Some 63 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones adds a moral element to the argument that the U.S. public school system is hopelessly segregated. The promise of equal public school experiences is denied when parents abandon neighborhood schools instead of investing in them. “As long as individual parents continue to make choices that only benefit their own children ... we're not going to see a change,” she tells NPR’s Fresh Air.
Fresh Air



I'll say nothing against him. At one time the whites in the United States called him a racialist, and extremist, and a Communist. Then the Black Muslims came along and the whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King.
—Malcolm X