Black Women Leaders Making History

Written by Jill Osur, Founder and CEO 

At Teneral Cellars I am committed to hiring womxn of color and to making sure they get to leadership positions. The wine industry does not have a lot of equity. It’s one of my personal missions to change that. Did you know there are only 0.1% Black wine makers? That’s men and women combined. There are only 10% female winemakers.

As part of our celebration of Black History Month I’d like to give a shout out to two trailblazing women of color and celebrate their powerful impact.

In her new role as CEO of Walgreens, Rosalind ‘Roz’ Brewer will be the only Black woman now serving as a Fortune 500 CEO, and the third in history to do so. As one of very few Black women in the C-suite, Roz has spoken openly about the bias and challenges she’s faced.

She said, “When you’re a Black woman, you get mistaken a lot. You get mistaken as someone who could not actually have that top job. Sometimes you’re mistaken for the kitchen help. Sometimes people assume you’re in the wrong place. In the back of my head, all I can think is, no, you are the one in the wrong place.”

As head of Sam’s Club, Roz attended a roundtable exclusive to CEOs. A fellow CEO asked her what she did and whether she led marketing or merchandising at the company. She said those functions were part of her company. When finally introduced as the event keynote speaker, she said “I enjoyed the look on his face when my bio was read. That was a good day.

A retired military senior noncommissioned officer, Phyllis Newhouse is founder and CEO of Xtreme Solutions Inc., an Atlanta-based cybersecurity firm. She is also the first African American woman to lead a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) through an IPO. The company intends to raise $250 million and will target women-owned businesses in technology, direct to consumer and fintech industries.

Despite male dominance in the SPAC craze, her focus on diversity is clear: -- board members, advisors and the specific tech businesses targeted are all women.

Passionate about supporting women-led businesses, Phyllis teaches aspiring entrepreneurs how to recognize and capitalize on their leadership skills and empowers others to operate in greatness. A service-disabled veteran, she has constantly relied on hard work, ethics, her love of technology, a desire to make a difference and to become recognized as one of technology’s top leaders.

I don’t want to hear one more person assert racism doesn’t happen. It clearly happens. People like me have said I don’t see color. We very much need to see color and acknowledge the experience of race is different from ours.

Our job is to listen more. If we have diversity of experiences and voices, we will not only have better companies: we will have a better planet and a better world.

Roz Brewer and Phyllis Newhouse are inspirational examples of successful Black women leaders redefining the business landscape as a racially non-homogenous one. Let’s raise a glass to them and toast their landmark achievements!

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