Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity

Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity

For decades, Black Enterprise has been charting the participation of African Americans in corporate America. But despite years of sounding the alarm, the preponderance of evidence that proves the business case for diversity, and billions spent annually on diversity training, the statistics are still abysmal.

Black CEOs are practically extinct in the Fortune 500, and black professionals currently fill less than 7% of the more than 16 million management positions. And the immediate outlook doesn’t seem much brighter. In 2018, men and women of color made up just 13% of the pipeline for the C-suite.

So this year, we decided to recognize those women who are champions of diversity, who set about the task—every day—of ensuring that all employees are included in the opportunities generated in this era of record corporate profits and trillion-dollar market values.

The 45 women on our list ensure that their organizations prioritize the hiring, retention, and advancement of professionals that reflect the country we live in and the diverse consumer market driving the bottom line.

They lead the charge on courageous conversations about race in the workplace, cultivate an environment of inclusion and belonging, and hold their fellow senior managers accountable for implementing D&I strategies as a business imperative.

“It’s all about accountability,” says Michelle Gadsden-Williams, managing director, North America, and Inclusion & Diversity lead at Accenture plc.

“The mandate has been set by our CEO and CHRO, and that makes its way down to their direct reports, regional leadership teams, and so forth. There’s a cascading effect. And we hold their feet to the fire in terms of what they support and don’t support from a diversity perspective.”

Here are the executives using their seat at the table to make sure there’s room for us all.

List of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity 

Chief Diversity Officers

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Global Diversity Executives

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Executive | Senior Vice Presidents

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Vice Presidents

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How We Chose The Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity 

Executives must meet the following criteria to make our roster:
  • Hold global or national influence, each list member represents the highest-ranking executives among the following universes:
    • 1,000 largest publicly traded companies
    • 100 largest international companies with significant U.S. operations
    • S&P 500 companies
  • Each executive has a direct impact on ensuring their corporations play a vital leadership role in diversity and inclusion.
  • Top-tier diversity/inclusion executives who serve as corporate officers or members of the senior leadership team.
  • Women who hold C-suite positions including CDO (chief diversity officer); or another top diversity and inclusion designation on the corporate leadership team, senior management group, or executive committee. Other titles include global diversity executives, executive, and senior vice presidents, and directors who lead diversity initiatives vital to the business objectives of their respective parent companies.
  • All executives have held their positions as of Dec. 1, 2018.


-List research and additional reporting by Lisa Fraser, Roland Michel, and Delicia Paisley-Smith