When Richard Parsons became chief executive of Time Warner Inc. in 2002, he assumed he was pioneering a new era of Black CEOs in American corporations. “I had envisioned that on the heels of the Great Society initiatives of the 1970s, there would be a wave of people who were ready,” he says. “But for a number of reasons, this didn’t happen.” Today, only six Fortune 500 companies are run by Black CEOs—a record high.
After decades of leading companies as varied as Citigroup Inc. and the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, Mr. Parsons, 74, felt moved to tackle this pipeline problem himself. Together with a team of venture investors, including Ronald Lauder and Kenneth Lerer, he launched the New York-based Equity Alliance fund in 2021 to “democratize capital” by backing venture funds and early-stage ventures led by women and people of color.