Success Story September 24, 2021 at 10:00 am

After making history at Goldman Sachs, Edith Cooper now only Black member of Amazon’s board

Abu Mubarik September 24, 2021 at 10:00 am

September 24, 2021 at 10:00 am | Success Story

Edith Cooper. Photo credit: Amazon

Edith Cooper has been elected to serve on the board of Amazon. The election makes her the only Black person to serve on Amazon’s board following the departure of former Starbucks chief operating officer Roz Brewer, who is now CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Cooper previously worked at Goldman Sachs, most recently serving as Executive Vice President and Global Head, Human Capital Management from 2011 to 2017 and Managing Director and Global Head, Human Capital Management from 2008 to 2011. She made history as the first Black woman to become a partner at Goldman Sachs.

She has also occupied various portfolios at Etsy, Slack, PepsiCo, and the investment groups MSD Acquisition and EQT AB Group. She is the co-founder of career coaching startup Medley, a membership-based community for personal and professional growth that launched in September 2020. Cooper started her career at Morgan Stanley from 1991 to 1996 and Bankers Trust Company from 1986 to 1991.

While announcing the launch of professional development startup Medley last year, Cooper narrated how she had to fight racism while living as “‘diversity’ in the worlds of predominantly white schools, neighborhoods and workplaces.”

Her addition to the board of Amazon makes her the third Black woman to serve in that capacity. The previous Black board members of Amazon are Brewer and pharmaceutical executive Myrtle Potter, who served from 2004 to 2009.

Cooper will be awarded 285 shares of Amazon that will vest in three equal annual installments beginning November 15, 2022. Shares of Amazon ended Monday at $3,355.73.

Amazon has in recent years come under criticism from employees who say the firm does not equitably hire, compensate or promote Black employees, according to The Seattle Times. In March, a senior Amazon manager sued the retail giant alleging the retail giant paid her less than similarly qualified white peers. Charlotte Newman claimed executives used racial stereotypes to justify denying her opportunities for promotion.

“Like so many other Black and female employees at Amazon, Charlotte Newman was confronted with a systemic pattern of insurmountable discrimination based upon the colour of her skin and her gender,” Newman noted in her writ.

Meanwhile, Amazon has pledged to increase the number of women and Black employees in senior executive roles. The company has said it will work towards doubling the number of Black employees in the U.S. and also increase by 20 percent the number of women in senior executive roles.

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