Skip to comments.Black CEOs: a Tiny Group Shrinks More
Posted on 11/05/2007 9:38:44 PM PST by Professional
AP Black CEOs: a Tiny Group Shrinks More Monday November 5, 5:53 pm ET By Ellen Simon, AP Business Writer Life at the Top Gets Lonelier for Black CEOs Who Remain After O'Neal, Parsons Departures
NEW YORK (AP) -- It's getting lonelier at the top for black CEOs. Only four blacks will be left running Fortune 500 companies after Stan O'Neal's abrupt retirement from the top spot at Merrill Lynch & Co. last week and Time Warner Inc. Dick Parsons' announcement Monday that he will retire at the end of the year.
That leaves Aylwin Lewis at Sears Holding Corp., Kenneth Chenault at American Express Co., Ronald Williams at Aetna Inc. and Clarence Otis at Darden Restaurants Inc. as the only black chief executives among this list of the nation's largest companies.
To some, the departures of O'Neal and Parsons underscore that all CEOs, whatever their race, have a short shelf life.
"In the best situations, these are not jobs you hold on to for more than five to seven years," said Alfred Edmond Jr., editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine. "The bulletproof CEOs of the '80s -- those days are long gone, even for white men."
Twenty years from now, Edmond predicts, there will be double the number of black CEOs, but that will still bring their total to fewer than a dozen. "The numbers are so small that any improvement will seem like a giant leap forward," he said.
On his short list are John Thompson, CEO of Symantec Corp., which is just shy of entering the Fortune 500; Ursula M. Burns, president of Xerox Corp., and Don Thompson, president of McDonald's USA at McDonald's Corp.
While the numbers now may be dispiriting, "10 or 15 years ago, we couldn't have had this conversation, because there was no one to talk about," Edmond said.
The reasons why so few blacks reach the top ranks are tangled.
"When African-Americans enter the corporate arena, they enter with a trust deficit," said Jessica Faye Carter, author of "Double Outsiders: How Women of Color can Succeed in Corporate America."
"There's a perception they have to overcome, even if they have a law degree from Harvard or an MBA from Harvard," she said. "The indicia of power in corporate America is still white and male."
Blacks are also likely to end up in jobs that don't have an advancement track. A study of workers in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and the San Francisco area by the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education found that more than half of black workers were in jobs that don't pay well, don't provide retirement and health benefits and don't offer avenues for advancement.
And when blacks enter corporate America, they often find it unfriendly.
A survey of 19,000 people conducted by The Level Playing Field Institute found that people of color are more than twice as likely as heterosexual white men to have left a job because of "unfairness," such as being passed over for a promotion due to personal characteristics, being stereotyped or being subjected to offensive jokes.
Barron Harvey, dean of the school of business at historically black Howard University in Washington, said the school's message to its students is the same as it would be in any quality business school.
"They must be very well prepared, they must be calculated in the risks they take, they must be achievers in any and all projects they undertake," he said.
The school also emphasizes that students should assume, until they have information to the contrary, that all behavior they encounter at work is positively intended. And if they find it's not, he said, "there is responsibility, for the betterment of the organization, to confront it in a professional, organizationally sanctioned way."
Associated Press Business Writer Candice Choi contributed to this report.
It’s not his fault. He’s black.
And Parsons made no money for anyone. Stock has flatlined during his tenure.
...oh, and print up a bunch of bumper stickers that read, "Mean People Suck."
That ought to fix everything.
Token= lose $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Now there is a school that is calling the kettle black...
Yeah, but that's better than the alternative: TimeWarner was falling apart and Parsons saved it.
He didn't make anybody any money (although I hear he's bought himself a very nice vineyard of Brunello in Tuscany), but he stopped a lot of people from losing money.
Boards of directors don't pick token CEOs. That would be idiotic.
That is actually laughable. What you are saying is tantamount to me quenching a forest fire that is consuming everything on its path like a veritable juggernaut, and then you saying that (even though i stopped the fire) that during my time I did not plant trees! Whatever you may think of Parsons, and however you may evaluate his tenure, he did manage to staunch a major vein-bleed at TW.
and as for tokens ....well, let's put it this way. There is no way that a major corporation would just appoint a token head, knowing the level of impact that such an appointment would have, just to assuage some PC-minded freaks who want 'equality.' That would be dumb, it would actually be outright crazy. Thus he must have been good enough to garner the position. The only way a person would be appointed as a token to head companies like TW (Parsons), Merrill (O'Neal), and American Express (Chenault or however one spells his name) is if he was actually good enough to get it. Oh, the other way to be appointed (to use the token 'method') would be if the person was ONLY a figurehead, and that there were other people who held the real reigns (although the problem with that logic would be that it would mean that the 'token' is then not responsible, sicne he was merely a figurehead).
But facilitating the situation for everyone unconditionally would never cross the rat's mind.
Nope...say the rats - the beatings will continue until we get what we want!
Maybe they've decided to go the small business route...
What’s laughable about it? The market bottomed in Oct. 02 and has risen significantly since then. Time Warner is at the Oct. 02 level. Significant underperformance. Parsons has done nothing with AOL except continue to watch it bleed. Nothing done with the cable or content assets. You have such low standards for a guy who has mismanaged.