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50 Most Powerful Black Women In Business

Membership in the corporate elite doesn’t come easy. It requires having the power to steer some of the world’s corporate leviathans and impact the products companies sell, the markets they pursue, and the revenues flowing into their coffers. Because of their pull, the executives, entrepreneurs, and specialized professionals who appear on this list make up BLACK ENTERPRISE’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Black Women in Business. And they run the gamut, from senior managers of multinational corporations to founders of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses.

Over a six-month period, our editors reviewed biographies and resumes and conducted interviews with hundreds of potential candidates. Since a title is not automatically synonymous with power, we further narrowed the list by talking to top executives, industry insiders, and the heads of professional organizations. All candidates were judged based on the following criteria: the extent to which her clout inside the company has a direct impact on revenues, profitability, product development, and brand position; the scope of her career; her ability to influence the direction of major corporations, nonprofits, and institutions through board membership; her unfettered access to the CEO, top management, and corporate board; and her industrywide reputation. Women who hold positions in diversity, human resources, legal affairs, corporate communications, and other staff management areas were not eligible.