Several Black CFOs Have Recently Joined S&P 500 Companies, But Diversity is Still Lacking in the Position

There’s been a fair amount of coverage for the three newly minted Black CEOs in the S&P 500 – IFF’s Franklin Clyburn, NiSource’s Lloyd Yates, and Exelon Corp’s Calvin Butler, Jr. – all of whom were appointed in 2022. As it stands today, they’re part of a small group of eight (or slightly less than two percent) of CEOs who identify as Black or African American. 

But how do the numbers fare for Black and African American chief finance officers? This week we combed through our c-suite data to find slow, but statistically meaningful momentum for Black executives in the position. 

Several factors have contributed to a higher turnover rate for CFOs in recent years, including pandemic related challenges, more frequent resignations, and higher than usual retirements (52 percent of last year’s total CFO turnover was attributed to retirement, up from 45 percent in 2021). Those and other factors have contributed to a lower average tenure for S&P 500 and Fortune 500 CFOs – five years, with industries like energy (4.4), consumer (4.2), and services (4.1) coming in at the low end of the spectrum, according to Crist Kolder Associates.

Many executive search firms expect the higher than usual turnover to continue in 2023, a fact that could open up more opportunities for Black CFOs this year. Let’s run through a few data points, as we spotlight some of the newest Black CFOs:

  • Our data shows a dearth of Black and African American CFOs. Specifically, only 13 executives, or slightly more than two percent of all S&P 500 CFOs, identify as Black or African American.
Pascal DesrochesAT&T
Jamere JacksonAutoZone
Mark A. L. MasonCitigroup 
Tracey T. TravisThe Estee Lauder Companies
Donald E. BrownNiSource 
Wetteny JosephZoetis 
Kofi A. BruceGeneral Mills 
Deidra C. MerriwetherW.W. Grainger 
Rejji P. HayesCMS Energy Corporation
Jason J. TylerNorthern Trust Corporation 
Jacinth C. SmileyHormel Foods Corporation
Jeffrey A. DavisDollar Tree
Edmund J. ReeseBroadridge Financial Solutions
  • That said, five new Black CFOs have been appointed in the past two years. The most notable name here is Pascal Desroches, who replaced the retired John Stevens at AT&T, following his 28-year stretch with the company. Also in this group of newly appointed Black CFOs are Jeffrey Davis of Dollar Tree, Jacinth Smiley of Hormel Foods, Donald Brown of NiSource, and Wetteny Joseph of animal health provider Zoetis. 
  • Most others on this list, including General Mills’ Kofi Bruce, Northern Trust’s Jason Tyler, and AutoZone’s Jamare Jackson are relatively new as well, having taken on the CFO role in 2020
  • Only two Black CFOs have been with their company longer than the current five-year average tenure for all S&P 500 CFOs. Specifically, Tracey Travis has guided Estee Lauder’s finances for more than a decade, while Rejji Hayes has held the CFO position at CMS Energy since 2017.  

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