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Diversity in the Board Room

July 13, 2021

“Racial discussions are probably the most sensitive and the most uncomfortable place for many companies to go.” In this weeks video, Ursula Burns goes on to say that in a country of free and equal people, every board in the United States of America should have diversity. The Board Diversity Action Alliance creates a voice, and a set of tools, and a place to rally around at this time when there is a public call for more diversity, more equity, more inclusion.

Ursula Burns was the first first black woman to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She served as president of Xerox (2007-2009) and CEO (2009-2016).

The daughter of immigrants from Panama, Ursula Burns was raised by her mother in a New York City housing project. After earning a degree in mechanical engineering in 1980, she began working for Xerox as a summer intern. A year later, following completion of her master’s degree, she joined the company working in product development and planning. Her ascendance in corporate leadership began ten years later.

In her book Where You Are Is Not Who You Are (June 2021), Burns looks back at her life and her career at Xerox sharing unique insights on American business and corporate life, the workers she has always valued, racial and economic justice, how greed is threatening democracy, and the obstacles she’s conquered being Black and a woman.

Her extensive vita includes numerous board positions—both corporate and non-profit. U.S. President Obama appointed Burns to lead the White House national program on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) from 2009 to 2016. Burns currently serves as chairwoman of Teneo, a global CEO advisory firm.