Don Thompson, McDonald’s first black CEO, is out of a job. His last day is March 1. With his departure, the number of black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies drops to four. By all accounts, Thompson’s tenure was badly timed: McDonald’s is lagging behind chains like Chipotle and Five Guys in attracting customers with creative menu options. According to CNBC, its sales growth has been low: sales rose just above 0.2 percent. For the world’s “largest restaurant chain” this is bad news.
But Thompson’s departure has the added effect of making the black CEO an even rarer bird that it already was. Among Fortune 500 companies, black CEOs will now make up just .8 percent of CEOs. The reasons for this are many, but one–if true–is particularly disconcerting. As Utah State professor Christy Glass told Huffington Post: “White men CEOs lead failing firms all the time…Women and minorities aren’t given the benefit of the doubt. When they slip up — even if it’s not their fault — it’s really easy to blame them because we already have these biases that they may not be as competent as other leaders.”