Amazon names Starbucks COO as second black woman director on its all-white board

February 05, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Money Moves

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

February 05, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Money Moves

Rosalind Brewer

Starbucks chief operating officer and former Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind “Roz” Brewer has been appointed to the Amazon board as the second black woman director of the company after Myrtle Potter, the former president and COO of Genentech who served from 2004 to 2009.

The Seattle tech giant confirmed Brewer’s appointment on Monday stating that she’s also been appointed to the board’s leadership development and compensation committee. This makes Brewer the only person of color serving on Amazon’s 10-person board.

This decision follows the company’s plan to diversify its all-white board and consider minority candidates after they faced employee backlash and public criticism from black and Hispanic members of Congress.

She is “a perfect example of the extraordinary minority and female talent that exists in corporate America, that is all too often excluded from the boardroom and the C-Suite,” said U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, co-chair of the House Tech Accountability Caucus and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which pushed for Amazon to diversify its board last year.

Brewer’s appointment “serves as an example to other industry leaders regarding the positive economic, business, innovation and inclusion benefits offered by increasing board diversity, especially to companies leading the way in our modern innovation economy,” Kelly added.

Rosalind Brewer, who was named in Forbes’ most powerful women in business list for 2018, has many firsts to her name. She is the first African American and the first woman to lead a Walmart division. She is also the first woman and first black chief operating officer at Starbucks.

Brewer spent 22 years at Kimberly-Clark and had served on the boards of Lockheed Martin and Molson Coors Brewing Company before joining Walmart in 2006 as a regional vice president. She became the CEO of Walmart’s Sam’s Club from 2012 to 2017. She became a director at Starbucks and the company’s COO in October 2017.

Ranked No. 33 on Fortune’s list of the world’s most powerful women, Brewer will get 570 shares of common stock as part of her election to the Amazon board that will vest in three equal annual instalments beginning February 15, 2020.

The 10-member board is currently made up of six men and four women including CEO Jeff Bezos; Tom Alberg; Jamie Gorelick; Daniel Huttenlocher; Judith McGrath; Jonathan Rubinstein; Thomas Ryder; Patricia Stonesifer; and Wendell Weeks.

Rosalind Brewer is a Detroit native and attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Spelman College, Atlanta. 

She later graduated from the Director’s College at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business/ Stanford Law School and completed an advanced management program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

She is married to John Brewer and they have two children.

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