Where You Won't Find African-Americans in the Fortune 100

by Julie Graber | on 3 Jun 2020

I’m getting tired of platitudes.

As I watch company after company issue statements on the protests sweeping the US - as I listen to them call out racism, pledge their support to Black Lives Matter, announce contributions to social justice initiatives, I want to ask them one question.

If this issue is so important to you - if you are so deeply committed to addressing the issue of racism, if you strive to create a culture where people of all differences can thrive, then why aren’t there more African Americans among your executive leadership?

I’ve written recently how important the demographic profile of the executive team is to truly understanding a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Because all the programs and initiatives in the world have little meaning if they don’t open up the pipeline to the top for women and minorities. 

Researchers from the Rock Center for Corporate Governance just did an analysis of the Fortune 100 and provided the gender and race/ethnicity details for each executive team (as of January 2020). 

What did they find?

  • 61 companies (nearly two-thirds!) have no African Americans in their C-suite (see list below)
  • Only 39 of the 100 companies had one or more African Americans in their C-suite (also see below)

I am sure that the companies on the list would be quick to point out the number of African Americans in roles just below the C-suite. I get that all the time when talking about the lack of female executives - they'll tell me the percentage of positions held by women one or several levels down, not realizing that they have just confirmed exactly where to find the glass ceiling in their organization. 

In discrimination lawsuits, it's often the case that someone who has received glowing reviews in the past suddenly experiences mediocre evaluations as they advance up the ladder. In the case of women and minorities, the change may have less to do with their actual performance and more to do with their advancement beyond an acceptable level. They may be guilty of not knowing their "place" and wanting too much. 

In many companies, there is a level above and positions to which women and minorities shouldn't expect to advance - if that weren't the case, women couldn't start out as 48% of entry-level hires in professional roles but hold only 21% of C-suite positions (McKinsey/LeanIn research). People of color wouldn't start out as 33% of entry-level hires and hold only 15% of C-suite/executive roles. White men, on the other hand, start out as 36% of entry-level hires but end up holding 67% of the C-suite roles. (And as the Rock Center report illustrates, even the women and minorities who do advance are often limited to certain roles with lower potential for CEO and board appointments).

Those numbers and the lack of change over the years is one of the reasons I turn a cynical ear to corporate claims to care about diversity and discrimination. If they really mean it, these companies need to put their money where their mouth is (literally) and figure out why African Americans aren't better represented at the highest levels of their organization (and fix it). 

I'll believe their sincerity when I see the numbers change - but not until then.

The 61 companies with no African American executive officers (Rock Center Report as of Jan 2020):

  • 3M
  • AbbVie
  • Albertsons
  • Allstate
  • Alphabet (Google)
  • Amazon
  • American Airlines
  • American International Group
  • AmerisourceBergen
  • Apple
  • Bank of America
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Best Buy
  • Charter Communication
  • CHS
  • CISCO
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Costco
  • Dell
  • Delta
  • Energy Transfer LP
  • Enterprise Products
  • Exxon
  • Facebook
  • Fannie Mae
  • FedEx 
  • General Dynamics
  • Goldman Sachs
  • HCA Healthcare
  • Honeywell
  • HP
  • Humana
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • JPMorgan 
  • Kroger
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Marathon
  • McKesson
  • MetLife
  • Microsoft
  • Morgan Stanley
  • New York Life
  • Nike
  • Oracle
  • Phillips 66
  • Plains GP Holdings
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Progressive
  • Prudential
  • State Farm
  • SYSCO
  • Tech Data Corp
  • The TJX Companies
  • United Technologies
  • Valero Energy
  • Verizon
  • Walmart
  • Walt Disney
  • Wells Fargo
  • World Fuel Services
The 39 companies with one or more African American executives:

  • American Express
  • Anthem
  • Archer-Daniels
  • AT&T 
  • Boeing
  • Capital One
  • Cardinal Health
  • Caterpillar
  • Centene
  • Chevron
  • Cigna
  • Citigroup
  • Coca Cola
  • Comcast
  • CVS
  • Deere & Co
  • DuPont
  • Exelon
  • Federal Home Loan Mortgage
  • Ford
  • GE
  • GM
  • Home Depot
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Lockheed
  • Lowes
  • Mass Mutual
  • Merck
  • Nationwide
  • Pepsi
  • Pfizer
  • Publix
  • Target
  • TIAA
  • Tyson
  • United Continental Holdings
  • United Healthcare
  • UPS

Tags:  By The NumbersIn the News