The social, economic, and cultural hurdles that Black Americans face as they advance in business are well researched. Among other things, many Black employees see fewer advancement and mentorship opportunities, higher attrition rates, and fewer champions of their success within their management and executive ranks. Also worth reviewing is Catalyst’s data on the emotional tax that exists for some Black employees, and how it can detract from their success.
Beyond their tangible experience, perception is also important. For example, surveys have shown Black employees are generally more ambitious, but a meaningful swath feel that there are barriers to success that are largely invisible to White colleagues. In addition, in almost every role – from the frontline to the executive suite – Black employees frequently feel less included in the workplace.
This and more contributes to a glaring dearth of Black talent in the executive ranks of S&P 500 companies — a fact our data confirms.
- Our research found only 121 companies with talent parity in their overall workforce. More importantly, far fewer have similar numbers of Black managers and executives. Of this group, only 32 continue to have parity in their management ranks. More strikingly, only six have it in their workforce, and their management and executive ranks (Aflac, Nike, UPS, ConEd, Centerpoint Energy, and Southern Company).
- The bottom line – this group of six represents a paltry one percent of the S&P 500 index. And the fact that only one percent of the index achieves this level of equality is diminished by the fact that several of these companies have only recently reshaped their executive suites in response to public and investor scrutiny, and the murder of George Floyd.
- That said, eight companies are on the cusp of achieving Black talent parity in their executive ranks. Here, we define “on the cusp” as more than ten percent, but less than 12 percent. For Starbucks, Verizon, McDonald’s Union Pacific, Exelon, Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, Texas Instruments, and Zoetis, which have anywhere between 25 and 300 executives, getting to 12 percent Black talent parity in their executive suite is a reasonable near-term target.
- Far more companies have no reasonable expectation of reaching Black talent parity in their executive suite anytime soon. Our research shows nearly 100 companies that have less than two percent of their top positions held by Black Americans. Apple, which has been in the crosshairs of many racial justice advocates, is the most notable name on this list. Others include News Corp., Costco, Charles Schwab, Hess, Chubb, TJX Companies, Oracle, JM Smucker, ConocoPhillips, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Qualcomm.
- Finally, we wanted to highlight Walmart, FedEx, and Amazon, which have collectively added more than 210,000 new Black employees over the past three years. All three have Black talent parity at the management level, but none have it at the executive level. Leading the way in the executive suite is Walmart, where Black leaders make up 9.4 percent of its nearly 500-member executive team, followed by FedEx, where they make up 8.6 percent of its roughly 950-member executive team. Amazon, which only classifies 172 individuals as executives, trails both at 5.6 percent.