Ursula Burns, the first black woman to lead an S&P 500 company, will step down from her role as chief executive officer at Xerox after the company splits into two companies—a document technology company, which includes its Document Technology and Document Outsourcing businesses, and a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company.
After the split, Burns will become chairman of the newly formed document technology company. According to a statement released by XEROX, “Ursula’s deep industry experience and relationships along with her proven leadership skills will be valuable assets for the Document Technology company and will help ensure a smooth transition to a new management team,” said Ann Reese, Xerox’s lead independent director. “The company will be well-positioned to leverage its global industry leadership, strategic focus and ability to innovate post-separation, and we are very pleased that Ursula will continue to play a critical role in making that happen.”
In 1980, Burns joined Xerox as an intern and worked her way up to CEO. Considering only 15 black executives have ever made CEO of a Fortune 500 company, this is a dismal outlook for the corporate sector. “A sad day for me, but a happy day as well, ” said Burns during her annual shareholders address in Norwalk, Conn., to a small gathering of executives and investors, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
In 2014, Ursula Burns made the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Additionally, Black Enterprise listed her on the 10 Most Powerful African Americans directing U.S. Corporations list, as well as being ranked among BE’s “75 Most Powerful Women in Business” and the “100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.”