The 16th class of The Network Journal’s 25 Influential Black Women in Business comes at a time when women in general, and Black women in particular, are making significant advances in the workforce, business and education attainment. Worldwide, women now occupy 24 percent of corporate senior leadership positions, and 37 percent of entities in the formal sector are owned by women. In the United States, women make up 47 percent of the workforce, and hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional positions. Women are outpacing men in education—females earn 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 63 percent of master’s degrees—and 40 percent of women already out-earn their husbands.
At the time of this writing, there were three Black women heads of state in Africa – in Liberia, Malawi and the Central African Republic. We “run things” here at home, too, from the White House, to Gracie Mansion, to Xerox Corporation. We’re starting businesses at three to five times the rate of all businesses in the country. According to U.S. Census data, since 1997, the number of businesses owned by Black women has increased by 265 percent, the rate of employment of these businesses is up 358 percent, and revenues generated have boomed 406 percent. Today there’s an estimated 1.2 million Black woman-owned businesses in the United States, with an estimated $44.9 billion in revenue for 2013, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN. While 96.5 percent of Black woman-owned firms are non-employer status, the employer businesses our women own provided 272,000 jobs last year.
This is the backdrop for our 2014 class of 25 Influential Black Women in Business, even as disheartening disparities in health, employment, earnings, wealth, homeownership, and political leadership persist. For 16 consecutive years we have identified and celebrated Black women who committed to excellence and achieved it. The 2014 honorees are the 16th link in this unbroken chain of achievement. Like those who preceded them, they are professionals and entrepreneurs in the public, private and non-profit sectors. They represent a range of industries, including banking, beauty and personal care, beverage, construction, consumer products, education, engineering, healthcare, human resources, insurance, law, management consulting and technology. Some work for the federal government, some work for Fortune 500 companies, some own the businesses they work for. They are on Wall Street and they are on Community Street. They live in New York, they live in Seattle. One of them even resides in Nairobi, Kenya. Each one is profiled in the pages that follow.
— Rosalind McLymont
Profiles by Lathleen Ade, Toccara Castleman, Janelle Gordon, Angela Johnson Meadows, and Nene Sangare.
To view the profiles of the 25 Influential Black Women in Business 2014, please CLICK HERE.