10 Most Influential Black Women in Business

In today's society, there are many black women who have made a significant impact in the business world. These women have overcome numerous obstacles and have worked tirelessly to break barriers and shatter glass ceilings. They have shown the world what it means to be a powerful leader and have paved the way for future generations of black women in business. Here are ten of the most influential black women in business:   

1. Ursula Burns

Former CEO of Xerox

Ursula Burns is a pioneer in the business world. She was the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company when she became the CEO of Xerox in 2009. Burns started at Xerox as a summer intern in 1980 and worked her way up the ranks. She served as CEO until 2016 and is credited with leading the company through a successful restructuring.

Photo of Ursula Burns

Photo credit: The Globe & Mail

2. Rosalind Brewer

CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance

Rosalind Brewer is the current CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, making her the only black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company in 2021. Prior to this role, Brewer served as the COO of Starbucks and the CEO of Sam's Club. She is known for her focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace and has been recognized as one of the most powerful women in business by Fortune and Forbes magazines.

3. Mellody Hobson

Co-CEO & President of Ariel Investments

Mellody Hobson is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based investment management firm. She is also the chair of Starbucks' board of directors and serves on the board of several other major companies. Hobson is a powerful advocate for financial literacy and has worked to increase access to financial education for young people.

Photo of Mellody Hobson

Photo credit: Ariel Investments

4. Shellye Archambeau

Former CEO of MetricStream and current Fortune 500 board member

Shellye Archambeau is a Silicon Valley veteran and the former CEO of MetricStream, a software company that specializes in governance, risk, and compliance solutions. She currently serves on the boards of several major companies, including Verizon and Nordstrom. Archambeau is also a bestselling author and a sought-after speaker on topics such as leadership, technology, and entrepreneurship.

5. Lisa Wardell

CEO of Adtalem Global Education

Lisa Wardell is the CEO of Adtalem Global Education, a leading education provider that offers online and campus-based programs in a variety of fields. She is the first black woman to lead a publicly traded education company. Wardell is also a member of the board of directors of Lowe's and American Express Company.

Photo of Lisa Wardell

Photo credit: Business Wire

6. Sheila Johnson

Co-founder of BET and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Sheila Johnson is a businesswoman, philanthropist, and co-founder of BET, the first black-owned television network in the United States. She is also the founder of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, a luxury hotel and resort company. Johnson has been recognized for her contributions to the arts and to women's sports. She is a powerful advocate for the importance of diversity in business and has been actively involved in initiatives to promote entrepreneurship and economic empowerment for underrepresented communities.

7. Janice Bryant Howroyd

CEO of ActOne Group

Janice Bryant Howroyd is the founder and CEO of ActOne Group, a global staffing and workforce solutions company. She is the first African-American woman to build and own a billion-dollar business. Howroyd is a prominent advocate for entrepreneurship and has been recognized for her leadership and business success. She is also a sought-after speaker on topics such as diversity in the workplace, women in business, and the future of work.

Photo of Janice Bryant Howroyd

Photo credit: Janice Bryant Howroyd

8. Chaka Pilgrim

Former President at Roc Nation

Chaka Pilgrim is a music executive and entrepreneur  with over 20 years of experience spanning music, touring, film, and management. Pilgrim has played a key role in the success of several major recording artists, such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Rihanna.

Pilgrim began her career in the music industry as an intern at Def Jam Recordings and later became President at Roc Nation Records, a talent management and entertainment company founded by Jay-Z. Currently, Pilgrim is the head of film and television for Shawn Carter Enterprises. She has been recognized for her work in the music industry and was named to Billboard's Power 100 list in 2021.

9. Bozoma "Boz" Saint John

Former CMO at Netflix

Bozoma Saint John is a marketing and branding executive who has worked for several major companies, including Netflix, Apple Music, Uber, and PepsiCo. She is known for her innovative marketing expertise and contributions to brand promotion and image revitalization. She is an advocate for diversity and inclusion and has received recognition on Forbes' Most Influential CMOs list and Fortune's influential women in business list. 

Photo of Bozoma Saint John

Photo credit: CNET

10. Oprah Winfrey

CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Productions

Oprah Winfrey is perhaps one of the most well-known black women in business. She is a media mogul, talk show host, actress, and philanthropist. Winfrey is the founder and CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Productions. She is also a successful actress and has starred in several films and TV shows. Winfrey has been recognized as one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes and Time magazines.


Sirani’s Fashion founder, Fatim Sylla is truly inspired by these ten influential black women in business. They have shattered barriers, achieved remarkable success, and paved the way for future generations. Through their leadership, innovation, and advocacy, they have made a lasting impact on the business world and continue to inspire others to strive for excellence and overcome obstacles. Their stories serve as a powerful reminder that diversity and inclusion are essential for a thriving and successful business environment.

Fatim Sylla founder of Sirani's Fashion

Sirani's Fashion is an African-inspired fashion brand founded by Fatim Sylla in 2020. Based in Toronto, Canada, the brand aims to promote African designs and art in the fashion industry. Fatim's love for African fashion began during her childhood vacations to the Ivory Coast, where she developed an appreciation for the beautiful prints and designs that would later shape her lifelong passion for fashion.

With the rise of African fashion in recent years, Fatim saw an opportunity to showcase the prints and designs she fell in love with. She established Sirani's Fashion with the goal of not only selling clothes with African influences but also sharing her culture with Canada and the world. 

The core values of Sirani's Fashion are authenticity, versatility, and diversity. The brand focuses on creating authentic pieces that honor African heritage and designs. The clothing is versatile and inclusive, catering to people of all body shapes, sizes, and styling preferences. From casual to high fashion, Sirani's Fashion offers a wide range of options in its collections.

Fatim collaborates with tailors in Africa and Toronto to bring her designs to life. The brand's collection includes African dresses, blazers, jackets, jumpsuits, and headwraps. Since its inception, Sirani's Fashion has gained a global customer base and aims to bring a piece of African culture to homes worldwide through its collections. Discover your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry from Sirani's Fashion today.