In May of 2017, I wrote a Forbes blog celebrating 28 awesome Black women, and started a list on our website that could be useful for anyone looking for speakers or panelists, or simply as a source of inspiration. Since that time the list has grown steadily, to the point that maintaining a page with name, picture, title and social links started to become a challenge. Eventually we decided to revamp our Awesome Black Women page, replacing what had become an unwieldy list with a table that can be filtered and sorted. While the updated page loses some of its personal touch, it is our hope that it increases the usefulness and usability of the list as a valuable source of information and inspiration.
In celebration of this year’s Black History month, we have written weekly blogs — each week’s blog penned by a different team member — introducing a number of Black women leaders that have been added to the list since we originally published it. In the first three blogs of the series, my colleagues highlighted Black women leaders in social impact, Black women leaders dedicated to empowering others and Black women leaders that are changing the path for underrepresented entrepreneurs.
We conclude the series with this fourth and final blog, highlighting Black women leaders who hold positions as Diversity & Inclusion leaders within corporate America — and in some cases globally — across nine different industry sectors. These women’s roles are crucial as they collectively impact the wellbeing of tens of thousands of workers from underrepresented groups. And if you’ve ever met a Chief Diversity Officer, you will appreciate that it is an extremely challenging role, one that often places enormous pressure and expectations without a commensurate level of support and appreciation. Be sure to let these awesome Black women know how much you appreciate their efforts by inviting them to speak at events and supporting them on social media.
Erika Irish Brown (@ErikaIrishBrown) has had a distinguished career in financial services, which culminated in her being hired as Chief Diversity Officer at Goldman Sachs in July of 2018. An Economics graduate from the State University of New York at Albany, with an MBA from Columbia University, Ms. Brown’s early career spanned several leading financial services organizations, including Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and 2 years as a Senior Policy Analyst at the U.S. Treasury. Her first D&I role came in 2005, when she re-joined Lehman Brothers as SVP of Diversity Lateral Recruiting, followed by a role as SVP of Diversity & Inclusion at Bank of America, and finally being selected as the first Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Bloomberg LP, prior to joining Goldman Sachs. In a HuffPost interview, Ms. Brown credited her combined experience in finance and in D&I with her ability “to align and engage the business and help leaders understand the value of D&I beyond ‘doing the right thing’.”
Gabrielle Bullock (@Bullock_Gabby) is a Principal and Director of Global Diversity at global architecture firm Perkins+Will. Ms. Bullock’s career trajectory is somewhat unique, in that she has been with Perkins+Will for three decades, rising through the ranks as an architect, along the way becoming the first African-American Managing Director of the firm’s Los Angeles office. And that was one of several “firsts”: Perkins+Will was the first major architectural firm to create a leadership role for diversity, setting off a wave of similar roles at other firms. And in June of 2018, Ms. Bullock became the first African-American woman to become President of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the world’s leading professional organization for interior designers. In her current role she is able to contribute half of her time to architecture, leading major projects around the globe, and the other half pursuing her passion for social justice and equity.
Rosanna Durruthy (@talentalchemist) is the Head of Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at LinkedIn. Her personal life and career path are perhaps the most varied of any of the women in leading D&I roles: on the personal side, being Black, Latina and lesbian, she embodies the concept of intersectionality. Professionally, after starting Harvard at 16 — only to drop out a year later for family reasons — she began working in telephone sales, and then sales for a personnel agency, which first gave her an appreciation for the importance of identifying talent for companies. Eventually she landed a position at Citi, where she had her first exposure to issues of workplace Diversity & Inclusion when, more than 30 years ago, the bank faced backlash from clients in the Bronx because of a lack of Spanish-speaking employees in local branches. From there, Ms. Durruthy’s path weaves through Merrill Lynch, Blockbuster, Seagrams & Sons, Vivendi, Aequus and Cigna, before arriving at LinkedIn two years ago.
Katrina Jones (@katrina_hrm) has been Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion at the streaming site Twitch, where hundreds of millions of people watch eSports competitions and live video games. While the streaming industry is new to her, Ms. Jones is an experienced D&I leader, having already served as Accenture’s Global Inclusion & Diversity Manager, and as Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Vimeo. After a stint as a Legal Assistant, Ms. Jones held positions at the NIH and at the leading non-profit Year Up. While doing her full-time work, she was able to complete an M.A. degree in Human Resource Management, which first brought her back into the legal field, and eventually led her to a Talent Strategy Manager role at Accenture, from which she eventually rose to hear D&I role. Ms. Jones enjoys supporting organizations dedicated to Diversity & Inclusion, having contributed her time to the likes of Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and Diversity Lab.
Janice Little (@jmdlittle) became the first Global Chief Diversity Officer and VP of Talent Development at home-improvement giant Lowe’s in late 2017. In a recent interview, Ms. Little shared her desire to “make Lowe’s a place where amazing talent from all walks of life can thrive and where each employee can achieve their highest potential.” She certainly has plenty of talent management and D&I experience to draw from, including seven years at healthcare company McKesson, and more than ten years in various roles at Dell. Ms. Little also supports D&I outside of her corporate role, including her current role as Board member the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USMBL, recently renamed Disability:IN), a leading non-profit supporting people with disabilities in the workplace.
Candice Morgan (@Candice_MMorgan) is the Head of Inclusion & Diversity at Pinterest. After studying Psychology and Business Administration at Carnegie Mellon University, and completing an MSc in Cross-cultural Psychology at Brunel University in London, Ms. Morgan joined the D&I research and consulting firm Catalyst, where she rose through the ranks over the course of a decade to become Senior Director, building diversity strategy for a variety of businesses across multiple industries. When Pinterest hired her in early 2016, she saw an opportunity to work with a Silicon Valley darling whose leadership had been vocal about the importance of diversity and inclusion. Ms. Morgan credits her interest in diversity and inclusion partly on her experiences growing up in New York’s famed and highly diverse boroughs of Queens, Bronx and Harlem, and partly on her traveling and living abroad.
Texanna Reeves (@texanna_m) joined life sciences company Merck as Executive Director Global Diversity & Inclusion in 2016. Ms. Reeves has a stellar record of implementing programs that support corporate diversity and inclusion, dating back to her work for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, where her work led to a prestigious Catalyst award. After nearly 19 years there, she joined Sodexo, a global leader recognized for its award-winning diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives. In 2013 alone, the final year of Ms. Reeves’ tenure, Sodexo won 31 diversity awards. After spending approximately two years as Senior Director of Global Inclusion & Diversity at SC Johnson, where she provides thought to leverage inclusion and diversity for enhancing company performance and community engagement. Ms. Reeves generously volunteers her time to mentor diversity practitioners through her role with the Conference Board.
Nzinga Shaw is SVP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team — the first such position in any professional sports team. After completing a B.A. from Spelman College and an M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania (with stints at Cornell and Oxford), Ms. Shaw began her career in HR with ESSENCE Magazine. Her career as a D&I leader in the sports industry began when she joined the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network as Manager of Human Resources, and later became Director of HR for the National Football League. She then joined the leading PR firm Edelman, where she oversaw all major diversity and inclusion efforts for their U.S. offices. It was during her work at Edelman that she had the opportunity to work with the Atlanta Hawks to help them manage a D&I crisis. Through that work she saw an opportunity for the Hawks to establish a CDIO role, something she believed would have a positive impact on the entire league.
Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i (@TSmithAnoai) is Executive Vice President of Entertainment Diversity, Inclusion & Communications at CBS Entertainment, where she has spent the last 19 years. Earlier in her career, Ms. Smith-Anoa’i worked for NIKE before managing publicity and promotions for Image Public Relations. In an interview with Catherine Gray of 360Karma, Ms. Smith-Anoa’i tells her experience of being a publicist in her early days at CBS, and wanting her passion to meet her purpose. She saw an opportunity to create a department to make sure that the organization would reflect the audience that they served. It took two years, but through patience, persistence and carefully building a case, she was able to create her own position. Because of her great work, Ms. Smith-Anoa’i has received numerous awards, including a 2013 Global Visionary Award from her alma mater, Howard University, and a 2018 Power 100 award from Ebony Magazine.
Each week throughout February, we’ll share a list of awesome Black women you should know. To follow along, subscribe to our newsletter or click below to follow our Medium publication. In the meantime, you can also check out the collective, growing list of 100+ awesome Black women on our website.