Thasunda Brown Duckett has made modern history, becoming the second Black woman to be named as a Fortune 500 CEO in 2021.
According to CNN, Thasunda Brown Duckett achieved this accomplishment by being named the new CEO of The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund. The TIAA, as it’s known, is a Fortune 100 financial services organization that is the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and governmental fields.
Duckett will succeed Roger W. Ferguson Jr. in the role, beginning May 1, 2021.
Brown Duckett’s role follows the appointment of Rosalind Brewer as the new CEO of Walgreen’s drug stores.
“Thasunda Brown Duckett is widely recognized as an exceptionally dynamic and inspirational leader,” said Ronald L. Thompson, who chairs the board of the $1 trillion money management firm, to CNN. “She brings invaluable experience leading and growing large, complex businesses, setting and executing strategy, improving client experience and attracting and developing talent. Equally important, she [has] a passion for financial inclusion and empowerment.”
And while this accomplishment is indeed impressive, both for Brewer and Brown Duckett, it’s disheartening when one considers the statistics behind Black women as CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. Prior to the appointment of Duckett and Brewer, only one Black woman — Ursula Burns, who ran Xerox — served as a CEO at a Fortune 500 company. Then there’s Mary Winston, who was an interim CEO at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Since 1955 — the year the Fortune 500 list was launched — only three Black women (four, if you count Winston) have made the list. In total, there have been only 19 Black CEOs since the list was launched.