There’s no denying that women have a long road ahead before our contributions to the workforce are equally valued as our male colleagues’. This is especially true for women of color, as we make up “only 1.1 percent of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies,” accordingÂ to Catalyst. With such a low figureÂ that isÂ both alarming and devastating, we areÂ immensely proud every timeÂ one of our ownÂ overcomes the vast barriersÂ andÂ leavesÂ her imprint in the boardroom. The following ladies are sacrifice personified as the first ever to take on their current executive roles.Â Because of them, the doors for black women have been opened a little wider.Â Honor these first ladies inÂ Corporate AmericaÂ with BlackEnterprise.com on the following pages.
Ursula M.Â Burns, Xerox
Ursula Burns is Chairman and Chief Executive Offiver of Xerox, the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management. Burns first started with the company in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern. She assumed multiple positions, including Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategic Services in 2000. In 2009,Â UrsulaÂ became the first African American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. The trailblazing boss earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a masters in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.