board, he became the company’s president in 1995, was named CEO in 2002, and added the chairman title in 2003. When he stepped down last month as Time Warner’s chief executive, Parsons did not sever his ties with the media giant. He still remains chairman of the board.
In 1973, black enterprise first reported on blacks in the corporate boardroom. On that list, our editors found 72 African American directors of roughly 100 major corporations. Five were women, including attorney Patricia Roberts Harris, the first black woman to serve on a presidential cabinet.
One notable boardroom pioneer was the Rev. Leon Sullivan. Appointed to the General Motors board in 1971, the founder of Philadelphia-based Opportunities Industrialization Center fought against racial inequality and apartheid, the policy of racial discrimination enforced by the white minority government in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. By 1977, he #developed the Sullivan Principles, a corporate code of conduct that promoted equal opportunity and human rights. In the 1980s, it was formally adopted by more than 125 corporations, which shut down operations and divested holdings associated with South Africa. Says James Lowry, a Chicago-based senior adviser to The Boston Consulting Group: “Rev. Sullivan was a very impressive, bold change agent when he was on the General Motors board.”
Another trailblazing director was Clifton R. Wharton Jr., a high-powered educator and diplomat who became the first black CEO of one of the nation’s 1,000 largest publicly traded companies. Wharton “asked key questions to Ford Motor Co. about what they were doing in the area of minority business development. [It] really impacted the whole minority business community because Ford responded,” Lowry says. As a result, Ford #significantly increased its spending with minority businesses, and other major corporations followed suit. Asserts Lowry: “I don’t think we’ve been the same since.
Corporate Directors on three or more boards of the 250 largest companies
|William H. Gray III||5|
|Shirley Ann Jackson||5|
|James I. Cash Jr.||4|
|Aulana L. Peters||4|
|Robert L. Ryan||4|
|Karen Hastie Williams||3|
|IGN=”TOP”>Marian L. Heard||3|
|Alexis M. Herman||3|
|Walter E. Massey||3|
|Charles E. Phillips Jr.||3|
|Joyce M. RochÈ||3|
|John W. Rogers Jr.||3|
|Frank S. Royal||3|
|Joshua I. Smith||3|
How we compiled the black enterprise Registry of Corporate Directors
The 2008 black enterprise list of black corporate directors of the 250 largest companies was compiled by our #editors after six months of research. This comprehensive effort included reviews of proxy statements, annual reports, and investor Websites, as well as the #querying of investor relations departments at major corporations, corporate governance experts, and professional associations, including the Executive Leadership Council and the Black #Corporate Directors Conference.
First our editorial research team identified the l,000 largest American