Retail giant J.C. Penney finally announced Home Depot executive Marvin Ellison as its new CEO on Monday, following a nearly 18-month-long search since the ouster of Ron Johnson in April 2013. And for the first time in the company's 112-year history, the top executive is a minority.
Not only is hiring a minority executive — Ellison is black — a first for J.C. Penney, but it's a rarity in general. At present, there are just six black and 10 Hispanic CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. And, as BuzzFeed notes, the retail industry in particular hasn't quite "kept pace with America's rapidly shifting demographics." Among other strip mall favorites, the publication called out Target, Gap, and Macy's as having white, male CEOs.
For its part, J.C. Penney hasn't highlighted Ellison's race so much as his qualifications. "He brings to the role, among other assets, and extensive knowledge of store operations and supply chain management as well as a demonstrated ability to successfully run large retail organizations," said J.C. Penney chairman Thomas Engibous in a statement.