This year’s Fortune 500 list was a record-breaking affair for female CEOs, with 41 woman-run companies making the cut.
The annual list, which ranks America’s largest companies, also made history as two African American female CEOs made the list for the first time — Rosalind Brewer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett of TIAA.
“It does not escape me that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, including the cooks and janitors and others who look like me and were first to enter corporate America,” Brown Duckett told ABC News. “They created the space for me to have this opportunity. My hope is that corporate America realizes that talent is created equally but opportunity is not, and we all acknowledge that there’s still more work to be done.”
Prior to Brewer and Duckett, the only other African American woman to run a Fortune 500 company, on a permanent basis, was Ursula Burns, the former CEO of Xerox who stepped down in 2017. Burns, now the chairwoman of VEON and a member of Uber’s board of directors, became a trailblazer throughout her career as the first African American woman to run an S&P 500 company.
“You can’t run the company until you get some broader set of experiences,” said Burns, crediting her engineering degree for helping her perform a number of different roles within Xerox before becoming CEO. “Part of what I think happens with good diversity, particularly gender diversity, it pulls on the comfort levels of both sides to actually come toward the middle and to actually be significantly more inclusive — to be a little bit more understanding to design better solutions.”
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SOURCE: ABC News, Taylor Dunn