Only one Black woman Fortune 500 CEO remains after Rosalind “Roz” Brewer steps down from Walgreens leadership role after starting in 2021. The news leaves Thasunda Brown Ducket, president and CEO of TIAA, as the only Black woman currently leading a Fortune 500 company. This is another example of the challenges Black women face in leadership roles, as discussed in a recent article in Forbes:
“The recent ousting of Brewer confirms our research findings that women of color face higher expectations when it comes to performance and steeper cliffs when analysts and the media judge their missteps. Much of success in these roles relies on maintaining the trust of these stakeholders; Black women are too often seen as risky bets by those who make the calls on leaders. There is simply less room for error when Black women are at the helm.”
It’s difficult to imagine that in 2023, there are still so many barriers to entry for Black women in CEO roles, but it’s essential to understand that barriers also present themselves in every position to getting there. Now is the time to look at the representation of Black women throughout your organization and understand the barriers for them to first get into the door and then make it through every level. It may be valuable to engage a third party to conduct an internal culture assessment or racial equity audit to help identify those barriers. With the information you uncover, start taking steps to dismantle obstacles for Black women in your organization. This will require hard discussions and complex decisions, but this is what it means for a leader to demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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