BHM: Sistahs in Business

Dolores Duncan Wharton was the first African American and the first woman, and subsequently also the first African American woman, on the Board of Gannett Company and Director of Kellog Foundation. She is the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Fund for Corporate Initiatives, Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening the role of people of color and women in the corporate world.In the 1980s she founded a training program for African Americans in business. The program mentors African Americans interested in advancing in business and also provides them with needed training and the knowledge of several African American business leaders. Wharton explains:

We have young people in the pipeline. What we are interested in is nurturing that black talent, enhancing it, broadening it, strengthening it right up the pipeline. (Ebony Oct 1987)

Her business interests have also transferred to equity and ethics work in education. Wharton has been committed to the advancement of women and poc in education through work at Tufts, MIT, and SUNY Albany in the areas of ethics and business. (It should be noted however, that while she is opening doors for women and people of color in business, Wharton does subscribe to laissez fair capitalism that this blog has often argued disempowers workers and women globally. Wharton’s focus on liberal economics is tempered by work on human rights in China and ethics in the U.S.)

Wharton also contributed a considerable amount to the inclusion of women and poc in the arts. Her time on the Board at Garnett Company is not only a business first but also a publishing first. She sat on the Board of NPR, which sadly has very little diversity in its final product. And she also worked specifically on inclusion and diversity in issues through her directorship at Albany Institute of History and Art for 7 years, her Boardmembership at the MOMA, and her 6 year appointment to the National Council for the Arts. Wharton was appointed to the Council by President Gerald R. Ford in 1974.

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