Black Executive Leadership Is Growing but White Men Still Rule
Chris Womack grew up in the segregated South with whites-only restrooms and water fountains. After school, he caught fish and picked collard greens for dinner. On Sundays, he went to church with his mother and grandmother, who taught him that education and hard work could unlock doors that racism slammed shut.
Womack unlocked one of those doors in 2021 when he became the first Black CEO of Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Company.
Southern Company announced in January that he would take charge of the whole organization later this year during the utility holding company’s annual meeting.
The appointment will make him one of four Black CEOs in the S&P 100, the nation’s 100 top publicly traded companies.
White men still run corporate America, but Black leaders like Womack are making headway, according to a USA TODAY analysis of named executive officers at S&P 100 companies.
These corporate leaders, who are listed on federal regulatory forms, include CEOs, chief financial officers and others who serve in a handful of top-paid roles.
Of the 533 named executive officers across these corporations, white men represent 7 in 10. And of those companies,about 1 in 7 had executive teams that were made up of only white men in 2022.
Meanwhile, women – just 90 of them – make up 17% of named executive officers. Only 17 women of color were named executive officers in 2022.
In fact, white men today are even more likely than their grandfathers to be managers despite a diversifying workforce and evidence from research studies that diverse companies outperform peers that are not, says Alexandra Kalev, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Tel Aviv University.