The list of Fortune 500 CEOs has never been more diverse, but it was set to take a major hit in one key demographic after American Express Co. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault announced on Wednesday his plans to leave his position early next year. By departing American Express, Chenault will leave behind just four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
By the time his February 1, 2018, departure date rolls around, Chenault will have led American Express for 16 years.
Amex Announces Stephen J. Squeri to Succeed Kenneth I. Chenault as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer https://t.co/wF6MeIU7So #amexnews
— American Express (@AmericanExpress) October 18, 2017
“We’re starting a new chapter from a position of strength and this is the right time to make the leadership transition to someone who’s played a central role in all that we’ve accomplished,” Chenault said in a brief statement on Wednesday.
Consistently ranked as one of the top CEOs in America, an increasingly tough feat considering that 70 percent of senior executives in America are White men, according to Fortune. In fact, if the trend keeps up, which is all but promised, not even 1 percent of Fortune 500 companies will have a Black leader.
There have been a couple of recent resignations of Black CEOs, which decimated the already thin ranks of Black chief executives: Ursula Burns left her CEO perch at Xerox earlier this year and Roger W. Ferguson Jr. led Delphi for eight years before stepping down in 2015.
Below is a look at the last of a dying breed — the country’s remaining Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks
Brewer is the newest, and the only woman, of the Black Fortune 500 chief executives. She assumed her position a little more than two weeks ago on Oct. 2.
.@Starbucks names Rosalind Brewer group president and chief operating officer https://t.co/U1epTXV9Ab pic.twitter.com/lbDyEoU2f1
— Starbucks News (@Starbucksnews) September 6, 2017
Arnold W. Donald, Carnival Corporation & plc
Carnival’s president and chief executive officer has led the tourism company since 2013. But his future at the company was unclear after he reportedly sold nearly 91,000 shares of Carnival