Mellody Hobson climbed another rung on the ladder of success in the Fortune 500 business world, as she solidified her role on Starbucks’ board while holding down two other top board memberships. Few African-Americans have multiple board membership on the nation’s wealthiest companies.
Starbucks’ board of directors on Monday appointed Hobson as its vice chair shortly after longtime chairman Howard Schultz announced his retirement, the company said in a statement on Monday.
Hobson’s promotion to the number two position came as Starbucks has been in the throes of damage control following a high-profile episode of racial profiling when two Black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store in April because they didn’t order anything. Last Tuesday, the company closed 8,000 stores nationwide for an afternoon of anti-bias training.
Fortune 500 boards are dominated by white men, but Hobson, who has served on Starbucks’ board since 2005, has defied the odds. JP Morgan Chase & Co. also appointed her to its board and she has been on Estee Lauder‘s board since 2004.
Still, African-Americans have made small gains in diversifying corporate boards. Black men increased their boardroom presence by 2 percent and Black women by 18.4 from 2012 to 2016, according to a multi-year study by the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD).
The ABD report found that Blacks had the highest rate among all demographics of serving on multiple boards, which falls right in step with Hobson’s professional achievements, according to Ronald C. Parker, ABD’s chairman.
It’s an indication “that companies are going to the same individuals rather than expanding the pool of African-American candidates for board membership,” Parker told the New York Times last year.