The Fortune 500 gets its third-ever Black female CEO

February 26, 2021, 2:04 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Jennifer Granholm is confirmed as energy secretary, the House passes the Equality Act, and the Fortune 500 is set to get its third-ever Black female CEO. Have a great weekend.

– CEO progress. Exactly a month ago, The Broadsheet reported on Walgreens’s hiring of Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer as its next chief executive. Brewer’s new job, which she assumes on March 15, will make her the second Black woman to ever serve as permanent CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the only Black woman currently in the role.

Well, she won’t be the only one for long.

On Thursday, 103-year-old retirement and investment manager TIAA named Thasunda Brown Duckett, current CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, its next CEO. She starts the job May 1.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Beyond being history-making, Duckett’s appointment stands out for two reasons, as Emma reports. First, she succeeds retiring TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson. He has been one of only five Black CEOs currently in the Fortune 500, all of whom are men. Ferguson’s departure was poised to thin the ranks of Black CEOs, but with Duckett’s hiring, that drop-off won’t happen.

And second, with $1.1 trillion in assets under management and $40 billion in revenue in 2019, TIAA is No. 81 on the Fortune 500 list. Many of the Fortune 500’s current female CEOs (Duckett will be the 41st) are concentrated in the bottom half of the list, but Duckett—and Brewer, for that matter—will serve in the even more exclusive Fortune 100.

Duckett is known as an outspoken advocate for diversity, and two years ago she told Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit about the importance of not “water[ing] down the journey.”

“When I walk into a room, you’re gonna see my race and you’re gonna see my gender,” she said. “I just think that we need to stop being apologetic and trying to fit in.”

In that same conversation, Duckett, a Texan, urged the financial services industry to approach diversity and inclusion as it would any other organization goal.

“It has to start from the top, and then you have to make sure you hold people accountable just like you do every other business metric,” said Duckett. “You don’t say, ‘I just can’t find the customer.’ In Texas, that dog don’t hunt.”

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Confirmations continue. The Senate confirmed Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan and an advocate of renewable energy, as energy secretary yesterday. Dr. Rachel Levine, the former secretary of health for Pennsylvania, answered questions as President Biden's nominee for assistant secretary of health. Levine would be the first openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate, and Sen. Rand Paul asked her about "genital mutilation"—to which Levine said she would be happy to discuss the "complex and nuanced" field of transgender medicine with him. Katherine Tai also testified as the pick for U.S. trade representative. 

- Measuring is a must. Katica Roy, an economist and the CEO of Pipeline Equity, writes for Fortune about how important it is that companies measure—and report—diversity metrics. Those efforts are especially important after a year in which the U.S. backslid 22 years on the gender pay gap and 32 years on the labor force participation rate of women, she says. Fortune

- Reason for the run. Decades ago, women who served in Congress were often the widows of congressmen who'd died. The practice is, tragically, returning this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Susan Wright and Julia Letlow are both running for their late husbands' former seats (those of Rep. Ron Wright in Texas and Rep.-elect Luke Letlow in Louisiana). Wall Street Journal 

- Paid labor. A Beijing divorce court ordered that husband pay his wife for the domestic work she did throughout their marriage. The payment was a sum of 50,000 yuan, or $7,700, for five years of labor. The judge said that while a division of assets is usually based on the split of tangible property, "housework constitutes intangible property value." BBC

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Outdoor Voices hired Gabrielle Conforti, Urban Outfitters president, as CEO. Martha Stewart joins the board of BurgerFi. Debbie Clifford is stepping down from her role as SurveyMonkey CFO to return to Autodesk, where she was formerly a VP, in the CFO role. Deloitte promoted Amy Chronis to vice chairman and leader of its oil, gas, and chemicals sector. ServiceNow chief customer and partner officer Lara Caimi joins the board of Confluent. Barbara Yastine, former CEO of Ally Bank, joins the board of One Finance. Organic Valley promoted Kate Campbell to VP of business insights and data science; Jaclyn Cardin to VP of integrated brand marketing; and Jennifer Lilla to VP of accounting and financial reporting. ING promoted France head of wholesale banking Anne-Sophie Castelnau to global head of sustainability. Metromile named Junna Ro general counsel. Executive search firm Marlin Hawk named Tracy Murdoch O’Such president for the Americas region. 


- What it'll take. Japanese former defense minister Tomomi Inada said in an interview, amid a controversy over sexism among the Tokyo Olympics committee, that nothing short of "total upheaval" could get a woman to the top of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party. "If the LDP hits a crisis, then women will be able to run," she said in an interview. "At the moment, the party doesn’t want to do anything that would involve extra effort." Bloomberg

- Landmark legislation. The House of Representatives yesterday passed the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and more. The landmark LGBTQ rights legislation has passed the House before, but now has the support of the White House—although it still faces an uphill battle in the Senate. NBC News

- Anatomy of a breakup. What does a cofounder breakup actually look like? This story goes inside the messy split at the mental health startup Modern Health, cofounded by Erica Johnson and CEO Alyson Watson. Business Insider


Senate parliamentarian rules against including minimum wage in COVID relief bill CNN

Mr. Potato Head goes gender neutral, sort of AP

Britney Spears was never in control The Cut

Block Party aims to be a 'spam folder' for social media harassment NPR


"You find a way."

-Dame Judi Dench on working as an actor through macular degeneration, or sight loss

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