Jan 27, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 381 words, a 1½-minute read.

1 big thing: Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Former Starbucks COO Rosalind "Roz" Brewer speaks at a shareholders meeting in Seattle in 2019. Photo: Jaso Redmod/AFP via Getty Images

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.

  • Brewer will become Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

  • The former Starbucks COO, who played a key role in shaping the company's pandemic response, is the cohort's first Black woman in a permanent CEO job since Ursula Burns stepped down from Xerox in 2016.
  • Mary Winston served as the interim CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond for six months in 2019 — until Mark Tritton, a white man, was named permanent CEO.

The big picture: Diversity among Fortune 500 chief executives across the board is a disappointment. The number of Black Fortune 500 CEOs peaked at six in 2012. Since then, it's gotten worse.

  • Brewer will now be one of five Black Fortune 500 chief executives — alongside Merck's Kenneth Frazier, Lowe's Marvin Ellison, M&T Bank's René Jones, and TIAA's Roger Ferguson.
  • That will slip to four in March — when Ferguson is set to leave his post.

What's next: If America's largest companies want to pull from within their top ranks, potential Black successors aren't plentiful.

  • Take the 100 of the biggest U.S. companies: As of last year, just 1% of CFOs and 4% of corporate division heads at 100 of America’s largest firms are Black, per research by Stanford University.
2. Never forget
Roses with a note saying "#weremember" are placed on the Holocaust Memorial on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Berlin. Photo: Markus Schreiber/AP

Today is the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp.

3. Catch up quick
  1. Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel told the AP that if former President Trump runs again in 2024, the GOP will remain "neutral" during the primary season. Go deeper.
  2. Special climate envoy John Kerry said the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue." Go deeper.
  3. The number of oceanic sharks and rays has declined 71% globally over the last 50 years. Go deeper.
  4. 🎧 Axios Re:Cap hosted Robert Downey Jr. to talk about his new venture capital funds focused on the sustainability sector. Listen here.
4. 1 film thing: Timberlake’s somber role
Justin Timberlake and Ryder Allen in a scene from “Palmer.” Photo: Apple via AP

Justin Timberlake plays an intense, quiet, broken man in his first film role as the solo headliner, AP reports.

  • The soon-to-be 40 Timberlake plays a former high-school football star whose bad decisions landed him in prison.
  • When he returns to his grandmother’s house in a small Southern town, he meets a charismatic 8-year-old boy next door who’s bullied for sometimes dressing like a girl and enjoying dolls and tea parties.