- Kenneth Fraizer, CEO of the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., is retiring.
- That means there are now only three Black CEOs in the Fortune 500.
- Corporate America has long struggled with diversity, particularly in the C-suite.
On Thursday it was announced that Kenneth Fraizer, CEO of the pharmaceutical company Merck and Co., will retire. He has been at the company for nearly 30 years and will be replaced by the company’s CFO, Robert Davis.
Following his departure, there are now only three Black Fortune 500 Ceos: Marvin Ellison of home improvement retailer Lowe’s; Roger Ferguson, Jr. of insurance company TIAA, and soon Roz Brewer, who is set to join Walgreens as CEO in March.
This number is down from seven less than a decade earlier.
Before Brewer, only two Black women have ever led a Fortune 500 company. The first was Ursula Burns, who served as CEO of Xerox from 2009 until 2016, and as chairwoman from 2010 to 2017.
The second Black woman on the list was Mary Winston who, in May 2019, became the interim CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond. She only held the position until November of that year, when she was replaced by Mark Tritton, a white man.
The Center for Talent Innovation’s “Being Black in Corporate America” report, released in late 2018, found that Black people account for only 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large corporations, and hold just 0.8% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. The study also found an overall lack of mentorship and access to senior leaders.
Keep scrolling to learn about the three Black professionals currently at the top of the corporate ranks.