Diversity Leadership: Randall Stephenson, AT&T
Chairman and CEO
Growing up outside Oklahoma City, Randall Stephenson wasn’t really exposed to diversity until he went to college and was paired with a Black roommate. “I realized there was a whole breadth of experience and talent and capabilities that I had never been exposed to,” Stephenson told DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti. “It was a very eye-opening experience.”
Realizing the value of his own education, Stephenson is passionate about giving kids the opportunities they need to reach college. In 2008, he launched AT&T Aspire, a $100 million education initiative to address the high school dropout rate. In 2012, the company expanded the program and committed $250 million over five years. “If you don’t have a good, solid pipeline of diverse talent,” says Stephenson, “you won’t bring leaders up through the businesses that reflect the markets you serve.”
Prior to becoming CEO, Stephenson served as AT&T’s Chief Operating Officer and as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He started his career in 1982 with Southwestern Bell Telephone in Oklahoma and went on to hold leadership positions at SBC International including a stint in Mexico City as the company’s director of finance.
Stephenson earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s in accounting from the University of Oklahoma. He is a member of the executive committee of Business Roundtable and the executive board of Boy Scouts of America. He is also a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board. He chaired the corporate campaign of the NAACP in 2009–2010 and of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas in 2011–2012.