All Articles Tagged "African American women leaders"
The Good (Black Girl) News: Soon a Black Woman Will Be In a Leadership Position at Every Fortune 500 Company
I know this may come off as something that just sounds good on a company diversity brochure, but a non-profit organization is making sure it happens.
According to The Grio, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), which is an independent, non-profit organization aimed at advancing African American corporate leaders and fostering diversity throughout such companies, hosted more than 200 African American women executives at the annual Women’s Leadership Forum in Minneapolis Tuesday. But the ELC didn’t stop there, the focus of the conference was on increasing the number of black women in senior leadership positions in corporate America to attain this lofty goal:
“Over the next five years, the ELC plans to work with companies to promote and hire at least one African-American woman to a CEO or senior level executive position at every fortune 500 company for the next five years. The ELC hopes to increase the number of African Americans on the boards of Americas leading company’s by 200.”
That will be a much-welcomed shift considering only an estimated 3.2 percent of senior executive positions at the CEO level are held by African-Americans, African American women specifically being far less. The Grio points out that according to the Alliance Board for Diversity, “the number of Fortune 500 board seats held by women and minorities has remained flat compared to 2004. Even worse, the number of Fortune 100 board seats held by African-Americans has actually declined.”
It’s good to know that the ELC was paying attention to this trend and with studies pointing out that black women naturally make good leaders, bringing more of them to the boardroom table should be a welcome change for Fortune 500 companies as well.
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As part of Women’s History Month, the Root.com featured 20 of the top, black female CEOS across the world. The list features accomplishments of blacks CEOS such as Oprah Winfrey, Iman and Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer. Women are making strides from media to technology and the food industry. We highlighted a few of the women on the list:
Angela Benton is the CEO of Black Web Media and publisher of Black Web 2.0, the leading publication for technology and new media information for African Americans. Recently she launched the NewMe Accelerator to assist minority-owned startups.
Former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is the CEO of Johnson Publishing Co, the world’s largest black-owned and operated publishing company. Since she’s been in this role, Ebony and Jet’s circulation has grown immensely.
Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita is the CEO of ArcelorMittal South Africa, the largest steel producer in Africa. She oversees its annual production of 7.8 million tons. Nyembezi-Heita has been in this role since 2008. Nyembezi-Heita has master’s degrees in business administration and science and was previously the chief officer of mergers and acquisitions for Vodacom Group.
Amy S. Hilliard, a graduate of both Howard University and Harvard Business School, is the CEO of Hillard’s Comfort Cake Co. Her company distributes Southern-style pound cakes to companies such as Nordstom’s, United Airlines and Chicago Public Schools. She has been so successful that the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade chose her to be the first African American to sit on its board of directors.
Siza Mzimela is the CEO of South African Airways. She started with the company in 1996 as a research analyst and worked her way to her current position in 2003. She has been appointed to the International Air Transport Association’s board of directors; the first women member in 67 years. Oprah Winfrey also invited her to be a board member to her Leadership Academy for Girls.
Debra L. Lee became the CEO of BET Holdings in 2005. She acknowledged the criticism of the network’s focus on music videos that were thought o be derogatory to women and says she has worked to change the programming. Since her appointment she has put on programs such as Black Girls Rock! and stands by the rule that the network’s programming “has to have a message.”
NBC’s new reality competition show Fashion Star isn’t just helping aspiring designers find a footing in the fashion industry. It’s also bringing to light the accomplishments and leadership roles held by women of color in major retail companies nationwide.
“As a black woman starting out in the corporate retail environment, it was quite discerning to see that there were very few people, specifically women, who looked like me making senior executive decisions regarding the business,” Erica Milton, a corporate employee of one major retailer said to Huffington Post.
The show, which premiered on Wednesday night, showcases two of the women making executive moves in the retail industry. Hosted by Elle MacPherson, it features Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos as mentors for aspiring designers on the show. But while these celebrities may be the official mentors on the show, women of color can look to Caprice Williard and Nicole Christie as true aspirations for their professional goals.
Williard is the Vice President/Regional Planning Manager for Women’s Apparel for Macy’s Southwest region and serves as the featured buyer for Macy’s on the show. She has almost 18 years of experience in retail starting as an executive trainee at Macy’s and now as a vice president.
Nicole Christie, the head manager of US communications for H&M, is the featured representative for the store on the show. She too worked her way up through the company, first as a sales manager at of the H&M’s first stores and now as a national spokesperson.
As Milton says, “Now to have a nationally syndicated show shine light on women of color making power decisions for some of the top retailers in the country, its more than eye opening, it’s extremely encouraging.”
As a firefighter, Teresa Deloach-Reed is no stranger to playing the role of a hero. But now her days of breaking down doors and climbing ladders has reached new heights. With her recent appointment as the head of the 580-person Oakland Fire Department, Reuters reports that she has become the first African American woman to serve as a chief of a major metropolitan fire department in the United States.
In 1985, Deloach-Reed was installing telephones for a phone company in Sacramento, California, a job that required the ability to work atop ladders to reach the telephone poles. At the time she was worried about possible layoffs at the company, when her brother, a police officer in San Jose, informed her that the fire department in San Jose was hiring.
As she already knew how to raise ladders, Deloach-Reed decided to apply, and in 1986 she was hired. Back then it was rare to see a women firefighter; women even had to wear the pants and shirts made for men. In her first year on the job, she entered the San Jose firefighting academy along with several other new female recruits. The women relied on each other for support against discrimination and sexual harassment on the job, and slowly, things began to change. Now 53-years-old with over 20 years of service, Deloach-Reed remembers when the department decided to install locks on the bathroom doors, dividers in the dorm rooms and even issue women uniforms.
Even though times have changed, as of 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics observes a little more than six percent of firefighters in the nations are black, and less than 4 percent are women.
“There are still a lot of (fire) departments that don’t have any women,” Deloach-Reed said to Reuters. ”We still have a long way to go in regards to breaking down the doors.”