Katharine Graham – First Woman To Run A Fortune 500 Company


Katharine Graham was one of the first women to be a publisher of an American newspaper and the first-ever woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She was born on June 16, in New York City, to educator Agnes Meyer and publisher Eugene Meyer. Katharine attended Vassar College and transferred to the University of Chicago, graduating in 1938. During her career, The Washington Post famously reported on the Watergate scandal and published the Pentagon Papers, which defines the power of American Journalism to this day.

Generated 1 Billion Dollar

During her career, she grew the revenue of The Washington Post by more than $1 Billion. Katharine was a reporter for the San Franciso News and later The Washington Post, which her father bought in 1933. She married Philip Graham in 1940 and later gave up her career to prioritize her family. In 1946, her husband acquired The Washington Post, but in 1963, he died by suicide, leaving The Post in her hands.

Graham had no prior experience in business and was often the only woman in the room. Katharine was sometimes even being ignored by the males who did not recognize her. In 1971, she made the bold decision of publishing the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the black reality of the Vietnamese War that went counter to U.S government propaganda. The Post was facing legal threats from the Nixon administration even after that. Graham said, “Let’s go, let’s publish,” while others insisted that publishing the Pentagon Papers would be disastrous as reported by DiversityInc.

Pulitzer Prize for Public Service

Graham published, Personal history in 1997. The book was praised for its honest depiction of Philip Graham’s mental illness and received rave views for her portrayal of life. She also talks about how women’s roles have changed throughout Graham’s entire life, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

Between 1972-1974, she led The Post through its investigation of Nixon’s Watergate scandal led by investigative reporter and executive editor Ben Bradlee. Between the brave decision of publishing the Pentagon Papers and reporting on the Watergate scandal relentlessly. Washington Post became one of the most influential papers in the entire nation; Graham helped in its revenue generation, stock price and circulation to a great extend. In 1973 The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

The newspaper continued to grow till the 1970s, and Graham was elected chair and CEO of The Post in 1973, making her the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

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