Friday, February 10, 2006


By Delroy Constantine-Simms

Two Chairwomen and 11 CEOs Highlight List, But Playing Field Still Not Level

In February's Black Enterprise, "The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business." Featured are Starcom MediaVest Group CEO Renetta McCann; Verizon Senior VP Jerri DeVard; and BET Chairwoman, President and CEO Debra L. Lee.

BLACK ENTERPRISE (BE) President & CEO Earl "Butch" Graves Jr. has announced the publication's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, as featured in the magazine's February 2006 cover story. The list includes two chairwomen, 11 CEOs and 13 presidents, representing the top echelon of women in business. The final tally was culled from hundreds of potential candidates across numerous industries-including the finance, food/beverage, media, entertainment, communications, and government sectors. The final 50 have authority over budgets totaling billions of dollars and control subsidiaries, divisions, or departments that affect the fiscal health and direction of their businesses. They range from senior managers of multinational corporations to founders of some of the nation's largest black-owned businesses.

While the complete list totals 50 women - the largest number to appear on similar lists compiled by BE in 1991 and 1997 - there remains a lack of African American women in the C-suite. Despite the progress women executives have made, recent data finds that an abysmal 1.1% of black female executives reach corporate officer or top-earner status (Source: Catalyst, 2005). "While we're glad to see our list nearly double since 1991, the fact that there remain few African American women in the C-suite shows that corporate America can do much more to help close the gaps," said Graves. "The powerful women on our list, including cover subjects Jerri DeVard, Renetta McCann, and Debra L. Lee, clearly demonstrate that American businesses need contributions from a diverse group to remain a vital, competitive force in the global economy."

About the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business List:

Over a six-month period, editors from BE reviewed biographies, resum├ęs, and conducted interviews with hundreds of potential candidates. All candidates were judged based on the following criteria: the extent to which her clout inside the company has a direct impact on revenues, profitability, product development, and brand position; the scope of her career; her ability to influence the direction of major corporations, nonprofits, and institutions through board membership; her unfettered access to the CEO, top management, and corporate board; and her industry-wide reputation. Women who hold positions in diversity, human resources, legal affairs, corporate communications, and other staff management areas were not eligible.

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Copyright 2006 Delroy Constantine-Simms
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