Two Black Women-Led Companies Make Fortune 500 List

Two Black women, Roz Brewer Thasunda and Brown Duckett are featured on the Fortune 500 list for the first time in years.


This year, the Fortune 500 list broke a number of records, including the highest number of women-led organizations and the highest number of Black-women led organizations. 

The number of female CEOs on the list this year was 41, the highest ever. This amounts to 8.1% of the total CEOs on the list. Out of the 41, two Black women, Roz Brewer of No. 16 Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett of No. 79 TIAA became the very firsts to appear on the list since 2019.

Brewer, who’s a former Starbucks executive, was in March appointed the new CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, making her the only Black woman to run a Fortune 500 company this year until she was joined by former JPMorgan Chase executive, Duckett.


According to Fortune, only one other Black woman, Ursula Burns who was CEO of Xerox, has run a Fortune 500 business on a permanent basis before stepping down in 2017. This excludes Mary Winston, who served as Bed Bath & Beyond’s interim chief for several months in 2019.

Ever since then, Black women CEOs have been absent from the Fortune 500 list but it looks as though things are beginning to change.


Major companies are starting to be held accountable by the public which has pushed a lot of them to take diversity and inclusion in workplaces seriously. This has led to employment and diversification of senior positions with more Black people and other people of color.


The Fortune 500 list ranks the largest companies in the United States. After being around for 67 years, the list is considered as a microcosm of US business industry business as a whole and is closely monitored by experts, - including those who track gender diversity in the boardroom.


According to Lorraine Hariton, “We’re seeing more intentionality. We’re seeing a focus on women of color. And we’re seeing a recognition that diversity and women in leadership are even more important.” 

Lorraine Hariton is the CEO of Catalyst, a gender equality organization.

While she admits that these new appointments point to progress in diversity in the business world, she also reiterates the fact that there’s still a large gap that needs to be filled in women leadership, as there are still just a handful of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 list at 8.1%, compared to men.


“We need to tell the optimistic—but not exuberant— story around what’s happening for women,” Hariton adds.



While diversity for Black women in senior positions has improved and witnessed some level of progress, there's still have a long way to go before true equality can be declared for Black businesswomen and businesswomen in general.


Other women of color who featured on the Fortune 500 list include Sonia Syngal, Gap CEO; Lisa Su, CEO of Advanced Micro Devices; Yum China, CEO of Joey Wat; and Kewalramani of Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

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