In less than 10 days, the number of Black CEOs among Fortune 500 companies will drop from four to three after “Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express Co. steps down from his role on February 1st.” This is a far cry from a decade ago where a total of eight CEOs were African American. With less than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs being African American, the good news is that there is nowhere to go but up (hopefully). The bad thing is that there are currently few signs that an increase will happen any time soon. Black men and women for example, “only hold 6.7 percent of the 16.2 million management positions in America today.”
So where do we go from here? The answer is…well..not that simple. For some reason African Americans are not as high up in leadership positions in the current corporate environment. Whether this lack of retention is racially motivated or a generational concept is hard to understand, but facts are facts and potential African American CEOs are not sticking around for long. Black owned businesses are increasing, but when it comes to a lack of funding, opportunities, and revenue there are issues going this route as well.
The pipeline is dwindling and that is not a good sign for a community that has continually struggled to advance itself in American society.
But there is hope.Kyle Rosenbaum, CEO of marketing and PR firm Kyle Arnett, has created Black Boys Camp, an event for “black men who want to experience adventure and professional skills development.” It’s a three day retreat style opportunity for young professional black men to “learn from a variety of sessions such as “Old Money vs. New Money: Building Generational Wealth” to “Managing to Lead: How to be a boss in Corporate America” and “Grill Master: How to Throw Down at Your Next Family Cookout.”” If you fit the criteria I’d suggest checking it out at the very least.
Hopefully more events like this one can help connect and elevate black professionals into opportunities leading to leadership positions.