Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox is the only African-American woman at the helm fortune 500 company.
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: Chairman and CEO of Xerox Ursula Burns speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City. Burns is the only African-American woman at the helm of a fortune 500 company. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.)

The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), an independent, non-profit organization designed aid in the advancement of African-American corporate leaders and foster diversity at Fortune 500 companies will host more than two-hundred African-American women executives at the annual Women’s Leadership Forum in Minneapolis.

This year’s conference will focus on increasing the number of black women in senior leadership positions in corporate America. Over the next five years the ELC plans to work with companies to promote and hire at least one African-American woman to a CEO or senior level executive position at every fortune 500 company for the next five years. The ELC hopes to increase the number of African-Americans on the boards of Americas leading company’s by 200.

Currently black women are the most underrepresented group in corporate America. According to the Alliance Board for Diversity, “the number of Fortune 500 board seats held by women and minorities has remained flat compared to 2004. Even worse, the number of Fortune 100 board seats held by African-Americans has actually declined.”

The organization has vowed to take the lead in addressing these disparities and will begin to implement a diversity engagement campaign. It is estimated that only 3.2 percent of senior executive positions at the CEO level are held by African-Americans, within that group, black women are disproportionately underrepresented.

Leilani Brown, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Starr Companies, and Women’s Leadership Forum co-chair hopes the forum will prepare, “talented and creative African-American women for leadership positions in corporate America and on boards, ensuring that we have a voice at the decision-making table.”

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