Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer Brings Experience, Ability and Much-Wanted ‘Techquity’ to Amazon’s Board

Starbucks COO and Fortune Most Powerful Women list member Rosalind Brewer is joining Amazon‘s board of directors, in a move that goes some way to addressing the tech giant’s perceived lack of racial and gender diversity at the highest level.

Amazon’s board has ten members, four of whom are women and Brewer will be the second black female director. Before joining Starbucks in 2017, she was CEO of Sam’s Club.

Last year a group of shareholder-employees challenged Amazon to adopt the so-called “Rooney rule” to ensure that it interviewed at least one woman or racial minority for each open board position. After brief resistance amidst additional pressure from some Congressional caucuses, the company in May formalized what it says was already its policy to include women and minority candidates in director searches.

One employee on an email chain at the time of the challenge last year noted that Amazon was last among its peers for boardroom diversity. Brewer will be on the Leadership Development and Compensation Committee so she will be in a position to direct change both at her own level and among the company’s executives.

“We were already actively recruiting Ms. Brewer when our corporate governance guidelines were amended last year,” an Amazon spokesperson told Recode.

Still, Illinois congresswoman Robin Kelly, co-chair of the House Tech Accountability Caucus, declared it a victory, tweeting that “This barrier-breaking appointment is a major step towards techquity in the boardroom.”

This story has been updated to clarify Amazon’s response to employee pressure to increase board diversity; it says it formalized a policy that was already in place; it did not adopt a new policy.

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