By Ryan Velez
As one of the premier sources of information for African-Americans in the business community, it stands to reason that many are waiting for Black Enterprise’s list of the most powerful women in business with bated breath. Part of the reason for this is the levels of drive and ambition that have been exhibited by Black women in the business world. A 2015 study on Black Women and Leadership by the Center for Talent Innovation showed that among other things, Black women are 2.8 times as likely as white women to aspire to a powerful position with a prestigious title, substantially more confident in their business roles, and are looking to achieve financial independence, personal growth, and social justice outside of the office.
This makes Black Enterprise’s list a true lineup to behold, profiling what they describe as “A listing that crosses industry, public and private companies, and roles. The impressive credentials of the women on this list place them among some of the most influential executives and entrepreneurs in the country.” Many look to some of the names on this list as women not only skilled at handling the bottom line, but those who shape the direction of future leaders in business. Names include Lisa Borders, president of the WNBA, Bozoma Saint John, head of Global Consumer Marketing, iTunes & Apple Music at Apple, and Debbie Roberts, president of the Northeast Zone for McDonald’s.
Names like these may seem like obvious choices for addition to the list, but beyond frontrunners, what makes a powerful Black businesswoman? Black Enterprise shared some of their criteria for making the list, which was done after extensive research on previous lists, bios, and resumes. For one, many of these women were among the highest ranked in their companies, holding C-suite positions including CEO, CMO, COO, CAO, CHRO, and CIO. Others may have had other roles but managed significant lines of business or served as representatives on the executive leadership teams of their company. Special consideration was given to those who manage businesses that are among the largest Black-owned companies across industrial categories. The final result shows that despite many of the barriers that Black women face as they rise in business, there are those who have not only succeeded but are using their platforms to try and help others reach the same levels of success.