Following the April 12 arrest of two Black men in Philadelphia, which sparked national protests and motivated the Fortune 500 company to close over 8,000 stores for racial bias training, Starbucks has selected Chicago businesswoman Mellody Hobson as its next Vice Chair, according to an article by The Root.
Hobson has served on Starbucks’ board of directors since 2005 as head of the audit and compliance committee. She also currently serves as the president of Ariel Investments, LLC., the largest Black-owned investment firm, and has held board positions with Estée Lauder, Dreamworks Animation and Groupon.
“She said she wanted to be unapologetically black and unapologetically a woman,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, in a 2015 Vanity Fair feature detailing Hobson’s life and career. Hobson has been a long-time advocate for teaching children financial literacy.
During the May 29 racial bias training, Hobson is included in an informational video proposing how Starbucks can “structurally change the organization” following recent backlash and spearhead a corporate effort to end institutional racism and discrimination.
Starbucks announced Hobson’s promotion in an official statement June 4, as well as the retirement of executive chairman Howard Schultz. Hobson is expected to assume her role as vice chairwoman, alongside J.C. Penney CEO Myron E. Ullman who has been appointed as chair, upon Schultz’s June 26 departure.