Business

Black Women Who Broke Corporate America’s Glass Ceiling

U.S. Still Has a Long Way to Go For Equity at the Upper Echelons

Two Black businesswomen, the CEO for a leading pharmaceutical company and the leader for a mammoth financial services, recently garnered top honors, chosen by the Executive Leadership Council [ELC] as recipients of the organization’s 2021 Achievement Awards.

The ELC honored Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and CEO of TIAA, who earlier this year became the second and third Black woman, respectively, promoted to the position of CEO for their companies in Fortune 500 history.

Ursula Burns, the first Black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Xerox Corp., 2007-2016), shared the news during ELC’s 35th Anniversary Gala.

ELC, a global organization whose members include Black current and former CEOs, senior executives, board members of Fortune 1000 and equivalent companies, also has Blacks who count as top-tier entrepreneurs and intellectually astute leaders from the international community.

Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and CEO of TIAA, one of two current Black CEOs in America, was a recipient of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) 2021 Achievement Award. The award was given during the ELC’s virtual 35th anniversary gala. (Courtesy photo)
Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and CEO of TIAA, one of two current Black CEOs in America, was a recipient of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) 2021 Achievement Award. The award was given during the ELC’s virtual 35th anniversary gala. (Courtesy photo)

“ELC’s Achievement Award recognizes Black corporate executives with breathtaking personal and professional career achievements,” said Burns when introducing Brewer and Duckett. “They have also dedicated themselves to advancing diversity and inclusion.”

Before assuming the helm at Walgreens Boots Alliance, a retail pharmacy company, Brewer served as CEO and group president at Starbucks from October 2017 to January 2021. Before Starbucks, she served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club, the membership retail warehouse club and a division of Walmart, Inc., from February 2012 to February 2017.

“I have a rare opportunity as CEO to advocate for social change and health equity,” Brewer said while also expressing her support for other rising Black female executives. “I firmly believe that sharing our experiences with each other in an honest and authentic way helps to drive meaningful conversation for change.”

After serving as CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, Duckett moved to TIAA where she oversaw a banking network with more than $600 billion in deposits and 50,000 employees. Previously, she served as CEO for Chase Auto Finance, one of the leading U.S. auto financing providers and National Retail Sales Executive for Chase Mortgage Banking, where she managed 4,000 mortgage bankers.

In acknowledging her award, Duckett touted TIAA’s “Be the Change” platform.

“Through our movement, TIAA is committed to challenging systemic racism by adopting anti-racist policies inside the company,” Duckett said. “There is power in the collective voice and that’s the mindset all of us need to have to bring about real, lasting change in the composition of our board rooms and C-suites.”

ELC also honored director, producer, actor, screenwriter and movie executive Tyler Perry with the 2021 Alvaro L. Martins Heritage Award. The award, named for ELC’s founding member and its first president and CEO, recognizes an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions toward supporting the achievement of Black individuals in business.

During the virtual gala event, Colin Kaepernick, athlete, activist and entrepreneur, accepted ELC’s 2021 Global Game Changer Award during the virtual gala event. Kaepernick’s award reinforced one of the evening’s themes of collective responsibility and taking timely action.

To ensure America’s leadership pipeline includes people of color, ELC ended the evening by announcing the distribution of $1.3 million in academic scholarships to 117 young students. This year, approximately 60 percent of the 2021 scholars attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities including Alabama A&M University, Howard University, Hampton University, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University, Spelman College and Tuskegee University. Sixty percent of the recipients represent young women and most awardees plan to pursue STEM and business careers.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Brenda C. Siler

Instagram and Twitter: @bcscomm

Executive Leadership Council

Website: https://www.elcinfo.com

Instagram and Twitter: @elcinfo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elcinfo

Walgreens Boots Alliance

Instagram and Twitter: @wba_global

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