*When 2020 began, there were four African American Fortune 500 CEOs. When the year ends, there will be three.
Jide Zeitlin stepped down as Chairman and CEO of Tapestry, the fashion holding company that owns Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman. When Zeitlin stepped down this past summer, he cited “personal reasons.” He was appointed CEO of Tapestry in September of 2019. He was a previous member of Tapestry’s board of directors since 2006, serving as chairman of the board since 2014.
After Zeitlin left his top-level executive position, only three other Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are left. They are Kenneth Frazier of Merck & Co, a pharmaceutical company; Marvin Ellison of Lowe’s, one of the nation’s leading hardware chains; and Roger Ferguson, Jr. of TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America), a major company that helps participants invest in equities to diversify retirement funds.
Frazier was appointed to Merck & Co. in 2011, but has been with the company since 1992, holding several executive positions. Ellison of Lowe’s was appointed CEO in 2018.
According to “Business Insider,” Ellison began his career as a part-time security guard at Target in Memphis, making $4.35 an hour. For the next 15 years, he rose through the ranks before being hired at Home Depot in 2002, where he later became executive vice president of U.S. stores. Before becoming CEO of Lowe’s in 2018, he was CEO of JC Penney.
Ferguson of TIAA has been CEO of the giant company since 2008. Prior to his current position, he was head of financial services for Swiss Re, vice-chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System, and associate and partner at the elite law firm of McKinsey and Company.
A decade ago there were seven Black Fortune 500 CEOs. According to “Business Insider,” there have only been two Black women to hold a CEO position at a Fortune 500 company: Ursula Burns, Xerox (2009 – 2016) and Mary Winston, Bed Bath & Beyond (Interim CEO, May – November 2019).
According to Fortune Media IP Limited, there have only been 18 Black CEOs to head Fortune 500 companies since 1999, where the highwater mark of six African Americans held the position in 2012.