There’s no denying that women have a long road ahead before our contributions to the workforce are equally valued as our male colleagues’. This is especially true for women of color, as we make up “only 1.1 percent of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies,” according to Catalyst. With such a low figure that is both alarming and devastating, we are immensely proud every time one of our own overcomes the vast barriers and leaves her imprint in the boardroom. The following ladies are sacrifice personified as the first ever to take on their current executive roles. Because of them, the doors for black women have been opened a little wider. Honor these first ladies in Corporate America with BlackEnterprise.com on the following pages.
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Ursula M. Burns, Xerox
Ursula Burns is Chairman and Chief Executive Offiver of Xerox, the world’s leading enterprise for business process and document management. Burns first started with the company in 1980 as a mechanical engineering summer intern. She assumed multiple positions, including Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategic Services in 2000. In 2009, Ursula became the first African American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. The trailblazing boss earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of NYU and a masters in mechanical engineering from Columbia University.