Walgreens’ newest CEO, Roz Brewer is undertaking the company’s coronavirus vaccine distribution plan. Her appointment made her the only Black woman to serve in the top spot at a Fortune 500 company, and comes at a time when the country needs sound leadership the most.
“Roz’ appointment is not only a solid business decision; it’s a huge opportunity for the Black community overall,” Crystal Ashby, interim president of the Executive Leadership Council, an organization of Black executives told The Washington Post. “Having a Black woman sitting in the seat who is cognizant of the disparities – for her to be in a position to make decisions, to influence peers, to be engaged in conversations and dialogues – is very promising.”
The 58-year-old Detroit, Michigan native most recently served as the chief operating officer for Starbucks, and navigated the company through the 2018 racial discrimination incident in Philadelphia.
Brewer’s resume of experience, both personally and professionally, is a strength for the pharmacy’s vaccination rollout amid the coronavirus pandemic. The lag in vaccines being distributed to Black people is clearly evident in early data reports, despite Black people and other people of color being most impacted by the virus and pandemic.
“This is a Black woman, a Detroiter, a Spelman grad and a mega company person who’s true to herself,” Michael Hyter, chief diversity officer at Korn Ferry said. “I think there will be a legitimate perspective from her that is balanced around the needs of people less fortunate.”
Brewer has also worked for Walmart, Kimberly-Clark, among other top companies.
Financial analysts believe that the vaccine will be key to getting more people into struggling Walgreens stores which have struggled during the pandemic, while getting the vaccine out to the communities most in need. Walgreens rival CVS forged ahead as a leader in the healthcare retail industry after acquiring pharmacy benefits management company Caremark and insurer Aetna.
Managing the operation will be complicated, but that Brewer is up for the challenge. “She’s someone who delivers results, someone who can build a team and someone who can lay out a vision of where they think they ought to go next,” former CEO of Kimberly-Clark Thomas J. Falk said.
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