Ursula Burns, the pioneering and longtime CEO of Xerox, will be stepping down from her position at the end of the year. Burns has worked at the company since 1980. Her resignation leaves the Fortune 500 without a single Black women as CEO.
Burns, who was raised in a tough housing project in New York City, attended New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering and Columbia University’s School of Engineering en route to her Xerox career. In 1980, she joined the company as an intern and impressed enough to be promoted to the role of executive assistant in 1990. From there, she continued her rise through the ranks to ultimately become CEO.
Burns’ departure is amicable as she will remain a chairwoman for the company and will head up a different division.
Still, the loss of Burns in the top role means a dearth of Black women in leadership roles. Now that burns has stepped down, only 19 women hold CEO positions in the 500 top American companies.. Over all, just 15 Black CEOs have been named since the start of the Standard &Poor 500.