By Alison Vaughn
Ursula Burns was the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 company
Until the end of 2016. When she retired from Xerox many wondered if another African American woman would ever hold such a powerful position.
I have often seen that Black Women are unable to bag higher ranks due to a lack of support and mentorship. Women are hardly selected for the top executive roles of the corporate sector, and being black only worsens the chances. However, these days this is improving.
Black Women have courage and an indomitable spirit. We have a go-getter attitude and seek whatever we want unapologetically. Let’s look at some black women who have conquered all odds and made a mark on the world.
- Rosalind Brewer is the group president and chief operating officer of the coffee giant Starbucks. She is the first African-American and the first woman COO of African American descent and like me, hails from Detroit. She was the former President of Sam’s Club as well! These companies are market leaders and she was the highest-ranking executive in both. She is an inspiration for a lot of Black girls out there, like my daughter.
- Another dynamic Detroit African American woman is Suzanne Shank. She is Wall Street’s most powerful black woman. She is President and the largest equity owner of Shank Williams Cisneros& Co., LLC & CEO of Siebert Williams Shank & Co, LLC (SWS).
- Unites States Senator and attorney, Kamala Harris, is running for Vice President with Joe Biden. Kamala Harris may be the first Black Vice President of The United States.
- OWN CEO Oprah Winfrey appeared on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s List in 2018. Her cable operator show, The Oprah Winfrey Show has grossed millions of dollars over decades.
- Debra Lee was the Chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television or BET. She was a Brown and Harvard University alumni and has worked for many years at BET.
- Christine Simmons is the COO of the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She has done great work and is a Black Female COO.
- Allyson Felix was one of the most popular track Olympian and has a record of multiple Olympic gold medals.
- Lena Waithe was awarded the best writer in Primetime Emmy for writing a comedy series. She is also a talented screenwriter and activist.
- Serena Williams, the prolific tennis player, has a startling number of Grand Slams to her name. She has also started her clothing line called Serena.
Why Are Black Women On Top?
I can ensure you, that all black women are resilient. The C suite executive, the world-class sportswoman, the entrepreneur, all of them have excellent qualifications. Our experience and confidence have led us to the top of the rung. We rise above the gender and racial discriminations that black women face in society and conquer the world.
With sheer hard work, dedication and unwillingness to give up, we have shown the world that anything is possible if you want it enough. Even a recent report by Women in the Workplace stated that women receive the least support from their managers. However, gender-bias has not deterred black women from working hard. We have consistently put our best and welded our powers in the corporate world.
We can make our way through difficulties. We remain affected by the bitter talks and discouraging propagandas. Many white people look down upon black women, only because they look and behave differently from most people. As black women who have made an impact, we have turned this around. Black women now rule the world and they do not let the negativity get to them.
We are agile and can convert disadvantages to their benefit. We have learned from our mistakes and worked towards developing our skills. We, Black women are extremely determined people, which makes managers and mentors take notice of our work. We face many roadblocks but we have the ability to turn them into lessons. Additionally, we are transparent about our opinions and seek honest feedback from our superiors.
Black Women have been on the top for years now. Be it the corporate sector, sports, music and other performing arts. I hope that many more Black girls and women of color who have been underrepresented for centuries get educated and hone their skills. After all, we own the world!
“Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential. So it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making.” ~Meghan Markle
Alison Vaughn is founder of Detroit-based Jackets for Jobs, Inc., a nonprofit that provides career skills training and clothing to job seekers. Jackets for Jobs, Inc is recognized by ABC’s The View, NBC’s Today Show and NASDAQ as a worthy organization to support. Vaughn is a sought after public speaker and community advocate. She is a Comcast Newsmaker, Goldman Sachs Scholar and honored as Crain’s Notable women in Non-Profits. She’s also been featured in Entrepreneur & Fortune Magazine.