• Ellen McGirt

Why African-American Women Aren’t Making It to the Top in Corporate America


It was supposed to be different by now.

When Ursula Burns quietly shut off the light to her office as Xerox CEO at the end of 2016, her departure also cast a light on a sad statistic: There are currently zero African-American women running Fortune 500 companies. Burns’ appointment to the top job in 2009 had been hailed as a milestone. Suddenly it looked more like an anomaly.

Her story is in many ways perfect for a pioneering figure. She grew up poor on New York’s Lower East Side, the middle child of a single mother who washed and ironed clothes for money. Burns’ strength in math got her scholarships and a summer internship at Xerox. The company invested in her early and often. She made it all the way to the corner office.


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