The appointment is historic as it marks the first time a Black woman will be at the helm of the world’s largest coffeehouse chain’s board. Hobson—who serves as Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments—has been a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion within major corporations. The Chicago native, who is a Princeton graduate, has served on the boards of companies that include DreamWorks Animation, Estée Lauder and Groupon. She is currently a board director at JPMorgan Chase. She has been on the board at Starbucks since 2005.
Through her philanthropic efforts, Hobson has been dedicated to empowering underserved youth from her hometown. She is the board chairwoman of the nonprofit organization After School Matters which provides afterschool programming for children in Chicago. Hobson believes that effectively changing the narrative surrounding diversity in corporate America starts with accountability. “Companies right now have to get their houses in order,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “The board of directors have to hold the leaders of these organizations accountable around these issues of diversity.” Hobson, who succeeds Myron E. Ullman, III, will step into her new role in March 2021.
Her achievement is significant as studies show stagnancy surrounding racial and gender diversity on corporate boards. According to Catalyst, less than 5 percent of board seats are held by women of color in the U.S.
This isn’t the only historic accomplishment that Hobson has made this year. In October, her alma mater Princeton University announced it would rename one of its residential colleges after Hobson. It is the first time in the Ivy League institution’s 256-year existence that a residential college has been named after a Black woman. “My hope is that my name will remind future generations of students—especially those who are Black and brown and the ‘firsts’ in their families—that they too belong,” she said after receiving the honor.