A new Black woman CEO is a game-changer for Black leaders and the corporate world, according to Michael C. Hyter, president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council, a non-profit that works to increase the number of Black C-suite and boardroom executives.
“Diversity at the top drives diversity throughout the corporation,” Hyter told CNN Business over the weekend. “There is a tendency among CEOs to groom senior executives who look like themselves, requiring intentional efforts to seed succession plans with more diverse candidates with proven track records.”
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“I’ve also been struck by Roz’s servant leadership when I have visited stores with her,” former Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke said of Brewer at the time. “She always lets her team do the talking, with her focus being on how to better support their needs. … She has strong strategic, analytical and operational skills and has successfully managed a large and complex business.”
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She was concerned the supplier’s commitment to diversity didn’t match her own, so she called one of the company’s leaders to address the issue.
“Every now and then you have to nudge your partners,” Brewer said during the interview. “You have to speak up and speak out. And I try to use my platform for that.”
The details of the conversation weren’t revealed during the interview, which caught the attention of conservatives on Twitter. Walmart’s president and CEO Doug McMillon defended Brewer from critics who suggested her comments were somehow racist.
“Roz was simply trying to reiterate that we believe diverse and inclusive teams make for a stronger business,” McMillon wrote in a statement. “That’s all there is to it and I support that important ideal.”
In addition to overseeing Walgreens’ vaccine rollout, which is already in high gear, Brewer is expected to drive the company’s digital retail expansion.
“That’s clearly one area of expertise where she specifically should bring some institutional knowledge that should be helpful,” said Michael Cherny, a health care technology and distribution analyst at Bank of America.
Outgoing Walgreens CEO Steffano Pessina had high praise for Brewer’s focus on customer experience and her e-commerce acumen in January when her looming appointment was announced.
“Her relentless focus on the customer, talent development, operational rigor and strong expertise in digital and technological transformation are exactly what [Walgreens] needs as the company enters its next chapter,” Pessina said.