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Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as 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.

Between the lines: While the number of women heading the country's biggest companies is still unimpressive, there are currently more than ever before (41).

  • The list is growing: Walgreens rival CVS named Karen Lynch as its new CEO last year. She takes the helm on Feb. 1. Jane Fraser takes over as Citigroup's first woman CEO next month.

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.

Go deeper

Black residents in Tampa Bay face big COVID vaccine disparities

James Bryant, left, and his wife Eunice register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa earlier this month. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Tampa Bay's vaccination rate for Black residents is startlingly low.

By the numbers: Of the 54,725 people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Sarasota-Manatee, only 812 are Black.

7 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

39 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.