The Elite 100: A Tribute To Black Women Executives

The Change is Here

Extraordinary Black women are changing the face of Corporate America. Diversity Woman presents its inaugural Elite 100 Black Women leaders list.

By Tanisha A. Sykes

Black women are changing the game in Corporate America. They have high-ranking titles and the power to set strategy for many billion-dollar corporations, and their advancement is unparalleled. For the first time, we are proud to introduce the Elite 100. The Class of 2021 highlights 100 extraordinary Black women in the C-suite and executive leaders at Fortune 500, Fortune 1000, Fortune Global 500, S&P 400, and S&P 500 companies.

In a year that upended the corporate stratosphere, these women are leading—and in many cases tackling—complex transformations by addressing systemic racism in the workplace, managing remote teams around the world, building morale through innovative programming, and sustaining profitable bottom lines. In fields from finance to tech to entertainment to health care, these 100 corporate all-stars are making their mark.

Despite their success, a new study from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, Women in the Workplace 2020, shows that women in senior management, especially women of color, remain underrepresented, with SVP roles only growing from 23 percent to 28 percent between 2015 and 2020. In the C-suite, there has been progress, but it’s slow. Women of color, which included Black, Asian, and Latinx women, accounted for just 3 percent, falling significantly below white men (66 percent) and white women (19 percent), according to 2020 findings from the McKinsey & Company report.

Black women have always faced barriers to advancement, such as double standards, lack of advocacy, and unconscious bias. In Women in the Workplace 2020, Black women were found to experience more acute discrimination. A Korn Ferry study also shows that senior Black talent faced bias in advancing into roles leading to the CEO spot. To better balance the scales and eviscerate these barriers, corporations must walk the walk by providing equal first-rung promotion, access to sponsorship, and real leadership opportunities with P&L responsibility.

Some companies are stepping up. Since the reckoning that began with the murder of George Floyd, companies have been pouring money into nonprofits that support racial equity and examining their own practices and setting explicit goals. Wells Fargo, for example, announced that it will increase Black leadership to 12 percent over five years, and Delta Air Lines, where 7 percent of the top 100 in the organization are Black, will double the percentage of Black officers and directors by 2025.

Although we still have a long way to go to reach true equity in the workplace, the Elite 100 demonstrates that Corporate America is taking notice and making changes so more Black women have the opportunity to rise.

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