The number of black people currently leading Fortune 500 companies is eight. While this number is woefully low, which is analyzed in the context of black CEOs for recognition, it is a marked improvement.
The “Fortune 500” is a list of the 500 largest companies in the U.S. compiled by Fortune magazine and published every year since 1955.
Records show that there have only been a total of 23 Black CEOs leading America’s Fortune 500 companies since 1987. In 2020 when there were discussions about diversity following the killing of George Floyd, there were four Black CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. The number has now risen to eight, representing only 1.6% of all Fortune 500 CEOs, according to Fortune.
Below are the Black CEOs on the 2023 Fortune 500 list:
Rosalind (Roz) Brewer
Rosalind “Roz” Brewer is the CEO of Walgreens. Before her appointment, Brewer served as the chief operating officer at Starbucks.
Brewer grew up in Detroit and attended Cass Technical High School and Spelman College, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She is also a graduate of the Director’s College at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business/Stanford Law School, and she also attended an advanced management program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Marvin Ellison is the CEO of Lowe and came to have the rare distinction of being the only Black executive to have CEO positions at two different Fortune 500 companies. He previously held the CEO position with J.C. Penney and also worked at companies like The Home Depot and Target, according to his LinkedIn.
Thasunda Brown Duckett
Thasunda Brown Duckett leads the Fortune 500 company Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA). Before her appointment, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Chase Consumer Banking, a division of JP Morgan. She is also the first Black woman to be named to JP Morgan’s Operating Committee.
Duckett, known by her friends and colleagues as T, is one of JP Morgan Chase’s visible and accessible executives. She makes regular media and television appearances for the bank. As one of the senior black finance executives, Duckett is working to improve financial health and literacy for the 23 million households served by her organization.
Duckett grew up in a family that faced economic challenges. Her dad, Otis Brown, worked for Xerox in New Jersey as a truck driver. When the company was closed, her family relocated to Texas where her mom, Rosie, found a job as a teacher. In North Texas, they started over in an apartment using crates as makeshift furniture.
In 2018, Duckett was named one of the most powerful women in banking by American Banker magazine. In 2019, she was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful “Women to Watch.”
Christopher Womack is the president and CEO of Southern Company. The company is one of the largest energy providers in the world. Before his current role, he was the chairman, president, and CEO of Georgia Power, the Southern Company’s largest subsidiary. Also, he was executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company.
Originally from Greenville, Alabama, he joined Southern Company in 1988 and has risen to occupy several leadership positions with the company and its affiliates.
Calvin G. Butler Jr. is president and chief executive officer of Exelon, the nation’s largest utility company by customer account. It serves a combined 10 million electric and gas customers in the states of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
Butler was appointed to the position in 2022 after the then-CEO Chris Crane retired for health reasons. Before his current position, he was the president and chief operating officer of Exelon. He has also served in roles like senior executive vice president and COO (2021), Exelon Utilities CEO (2019), and CEO of BGE from 2014 to 2019. He joined Exelon in 2008 and spent his early career with Central Illinois Light Company (CILCORP, Inc.).
Franklin Clyburn Jr.
Frank Clyburn Jr. is the CEO of International Flavors and Fragrances. Before IFF, he served as Executive Vice President and President of Human Health at Merck & Co, where he led a team that built one of the leading oncology businesses in the world and is now transforming cancer care.
David Rawlinson II
David Rawlinson is the CEO of Qurate Retail. He was appointed to the position in 2021. He joined Qurate Retail from NielsenIQ, where he served as CEO and led the company through a transition to new ownership. In the past, he served as President of Grainger Global Online, where he led the fastest growth, a stand-alone division of W.W. Grainger, Inc.
David has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law and is a graduate of The Citadel.
René Jones is the CEO of M&T Bank, a diversified, community-focused banking franchise with $200 billion in assets and a network of 1,000+ branches across the eastern U.S. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer from 2005 to 2016.
Before that, he was named to M&T’s Management Group, a group of senior executives responsible for the company’s strategic direction. Jones’ career started in accounting at the Boston-based office of Ernst & Young, and later at a private equity firm.
Jones comes from a biracial family. His dad is African-American. He is the youngest of six children, according to CNBC Make It.