Richards Parsons (left) and Stanley O’Neal

African Americans are leading more Fortune 500 companies than ever 

Though the number of African Americans heading up Fortune 500 companies is definitely disproportionate when compared to our percentage of the nation’s populace, it is undeniable that as a people, African Americans have made great strides in corporate America. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies are under the direction of black CEOs; we have really come a long way.

In the not-too-distant past, it was totally unheard of that a black man would do any better than perhaps a figurehead type of position, as corporations sought only to do the bare minimum to exhibit how diverse they were.  These companies often promoted blacks to vague positions so that they could parade them around to their African American client base (or governmental bodies that demanded a certain level of diversity for contracting opportunities).  After some pressure and enlightenment from national organizations (like the National Minority Business Development Council), corporations began to look at diversity in a more serious light.

Now, we have more African Americans leading major brands than ever before; this prestigious list of black CEOs. Paving the way are former Fortune 500 CEOs and current board members Stanley O’Neal, former president, CEO and chairman of the board of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., now serving on the board of financial services giant Alcoa; and Richard Dean “Dick” Parsons, a former chairman of Citigroup and the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner who now serves on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates. Here’s a list of the six black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 1.2 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs. –mark anderson

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