The Longest-Tenured Black CEO Among S&P 500 Companies Steps Down At Carnival — The Number of Black CEOs Continues to Dwindle

The Longest-Tenured Black CEO Among S&P 500 Companies Steps Down At Carnival — The Number of Black CEOs Continues to Dwindle

On Tuesday, Carnival Corp. promoted Josh Weinstein to chief executive officer. The promotion goes into effect on Aug. 1.

Weinstein is set to succeed Arnold Donald, the longest-tenured Black CEO among S&P 500 companies, Bloomberg reports. Donald will serve as Carnival’s vice chair and a member of the board.

However, the leadership change will leave just five Black CEOs in the S&P 500: Marvin Ellison at Lowe’s Cos., Craig Arnold at Eaton Corp., Roz Brewer at Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Rene Jones at M&T Bank Corp. and Frank Clyburn at International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.

Donald served in the CEO role for nearly 10 years. His start in 2013 helped add to the much-needed diversity in the S&P 500. But in recent years, the number of Black CEOs has dwindled as Black CEOs often depart at the same rate they get appointed.

Brewer’s transition to CEO at Walgreens in January 2021 came after she served in the COO role at Starbucks, Fortune reports. Her addition to Walgreens was met with enthusiasm with Brewer being one of two Black women running a Fortune 500 company (Thasunda Brown Duckett is the CEO of TIAA).

The number of Black Fortune 500 CEOs dropped to four last March when Roger Ferguson Jr. stepped down as chief executive of pension fund TIAA. The number has stalled since its highest rate of 6 in 2012.

The lack of Black CEOs is a direct reflection of the workforce. With more Black staffers serving in assistant roles rather than at the executive level, the lack of diversity becomes grimmer on the higher level.

“The tracks that lead to the CEO jobs are primarily P&Ls,” says Michael Hyter, former chief diversity officer at consulting firm Korn Ferry and president and CEO of The Executive Leadership Counsel.

“There are a lot of people of color in support roles [accounting, marketing]—lots. That’s not what gets you into the CEO job.”

Since Fortune 500’s 1955 inception, there have been only 19 Black CEOs out of 1,800 chiefs. Many factors are taken into account including education and the schools where big corporations recruit from, with most of them being traditionally elite schools with predominantly white student bodies.

Diversifying the executive board has become more of a priority following the social unrest of 2020. But there is still a ton of work to be done.

Ebony Thomas, an executive at Bank of America encourages major companies to improve diversity within their recruitment and retention sectors, NPR reports.

“I mean, progress is progress, and it’s slow,” Thomas said. “But we still have to recognize progress.”