Mellody Hobson becomes Chairwoman of Starbucks, making her the first black chairwoman of an S&P 500 company. She succeeds Myron Ullman II as chairman when he retires in March. A member of the Starbucks board since 2005, Mellody Hobson is one of the most recognized Black Investors in the country. The Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, she helps run the country’s largest black-owned and managed investment companies. Listed by Forbes as one of the most powerful women, Hobson is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep and Princeton University. After joining Ariel after college as an intern, she rose through the ranks, becoming president of the company in 2000.
In a statement, Mellody Hobson said, “I look forward to working with the board and talented leadership team on accelerating our strategy, supporting our valued partners and continuing to create a significant value for all of our stakeholders.”. In October, the corporation announced new diversity and inclusion initiatives. Starbucks committed to “achieve BIPOC representation of at least 30% at all corporate levels and at least 40% at all retail and manufacturing roles by 2025.”
Starbucks came under fire in 2018 when a manager called police on two black men waiting for a friend in a Philadelphia Starbucks. The men had not made a purchase. Police arrested both for trespassing and released them without charges. After public outrage, Starbucks closed all its stores and corporate offices, implementing racial sensitivity training after the incident. With the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, corporations vowed to revise corporate hiring practices. These corporations promised to recruit and retain more people of color in management and upper-level positions.
In a statement, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz said, Mellody has been a trusted advisor to me and the company for more than 20 years. She is a fearless leader defined by her grace and wisdom. She has long embraced the purpose of Starbucks and, along with the leadership team, will continue to reimagine Starbucks’ future through the foundation of its past. My heart is full and thankful that Starbucks will have Mellody’s leadership as chair.”
Mellody Hobson will assume her new role as chairwoman in March 2021 during the Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
Danielle Sanders is a writer and journalist living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersOfficial.