Starbucks has appointed Mellody Hobson to head its Board, making her the only African-American woman to chair the board of a Fortune 500 company. Hobson has served as the vice-president of the board, and her latest will take effect in March 2021.
She will replace Myron Ullman III, who is retiring in March, a statement from the coffee chain said. “I am thrilled and honored to take on the role of chair,” Hobson said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Over nearly two decades, I have seen the company continue to elevate and transform its business – adapting to various market environments and evolving consumer trends. I look forward to working with the board and talented leadership team on accelerating our strategy, supporting our valued partners, and continuing to create significant value for all of our stakeholders.”
Hobson first joined the board in 2005 and was appointed vice-chair in 2018. The finance executive is a powerhouse in the business environment in America. Besides serving on the board of Starbucks, she is also the co-CEO of Ariel Investments, a global value-based asset management firm. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of the company’s publicly traded mutual funds.
Hobson currently serves as a director of JPMorgan Chase and previously served as Board chair of Estée Lauder Companies and DreamWorks Animation.
Her appointment comes at a time when companies in America are facing mounting pressure to diversify their leadership and promote inclusion at the workplace. According to CNN, about 6.8% of large-cap company boards have racially or ethnically diverse directors, up from 13.6% in 2015.
Also, only 15 companies have a female chair among S&P 500 companies where the director is not also the company CEO, according to Bloomberg. None of those women are Black. Before Hobson, Ursula Burns was a Black female chair when she led Xerox’s board from 2010 to 2017.
51-year-old Hobson, a successful businesswoman, will soon be the first Black woman whose name is on Princeton University’s residential college. In October, it was announced that the residential hall at Princeton University once named for Woodrow Wilson will now be named after Black alum and major donor Hobson.
Hobson College, bearing her name, will be built at the site of First College, formerly known as Wilson College, Princeton said in a statement. Hobson and the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation had before the announcement donated an undisclosed amount of money to help convert Wilson College into Hobson College, according to the Ivy League school.
Hobson in 2015 was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. She was also on Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list this year.
Hobson graduated from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She also has honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, St. Mary’s College, University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University.