As we kick off Black History month here at our offices on Wall Street, it makes sense to take a look around the C-Suites of the Fortune 500.
And we would be lying if we didn't say we were disappointed.
There are only four African American CEOs -- all male -- at the Fortune 500's. And one is out-going.
- Check out our video above.
Ken Chenault, current CEO and chairman at American Express (AXP) , announced his retirement back in October, so he will be gone by the end of February.
Then there will be three.
Coincidentally, TIAA appointed the first black CEO in 1987 when it gave Dr. Clifton Wharton the title for about five years, before he was appointed deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. Now, of course, Ferguson has the role.
From the female perspective, it's even worse. Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox (XRX) is the only black women to hold the CEO seat. She served from 2009 to 2016 and there hasn't been another black female CEO since.
The board room is just as bad. Just under 9% of directors at the top 200 S&P 500 companies are African American and that number really has not changed much over the past five years.
Blame socio-economic issues, blame racism, blame whatever you want. But don't blame a lack of talent or trying.
The blame game needs to end, if we are truly to make America great again.
There is some good news, though. At 24.3 million strong, black women account for 14% of all U.S. women and 52% of all African Americans; and companies are noticing their spending power, which is expected to hit a record $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to Nielson.com.
Plus, their entrepreneurial spirit is rocketing. The number of businesses majority-owned by black women grew 67% between 2007 and 2012, compared to 27% for all women and 13% for white women.
So the good news is, there is some traction.
And our mission this month is to highlight some of the people who are leading the way.
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