Despite anti-racism pledges, few large companies have Black CEOs


Marketplace | June 8, 2020

The Marketplace​ podcast​, "Despite anti-racism pledges, few large companies have Black CEOs​," featured Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Evan Sharp​ on ​how organizations ​can open the door ​​for Black candidates to join the leadership pipeline. The transcript is excerpted below.

Over the past week, we’ve seen lots of brands making statements that say they stand against racism and they support their Black colleagues. But the number of Black employees at their companies, especially at the executive level, remains incredibly low.

Just about 3% of senior leaders at American companies are Black. And there are only four Black CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies.

That might mean reimagining the background needed for the CEO role, said Evan Sharp, a consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates.

Maybe at your company, the CEO has always come up through the sales department, “but quite frankly, you don’t have many Black people that are in that pipeline,” he said. “Maybe you think about CEOs that have more operational experience, and maybe that opens the door for more Black candidates.”

Remember why all of this is important. Sharp said there’s a business case: Companies can better serve their customers if they have diverse leadership. There’s a moral imperative too. 

“For far too long, Black people have been kept out of these roles and these opportunities to not only build wealth personally but to drive impact at scale,” he said.

And “you can’t be what you can’t see,” he said. If Black kids and young adults don’t see Black CEOs, it’s harder to imagine themselves in the corner office. 

To listen to the podcast and read the full transcript, click here.

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Despite anti-racism pledges, few large companies have Black CEOs