Marvin Ellison, one of three Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, shared his career journey during DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity event May 1. On Tuesday, it was announced that Ellison will leave his position as CEO of JCPenney to take the helm of Lowe’s.
Ellison joined JCPenney at a time when they were struggling with $5 billion in debt, and an almost $1.5 billion operating loss. Their customers had been alienated. He stated at the Top 50 Event that as soon as he learned that women were his major customers, he made leadership in the company reflect that. Also pulling from his experience at Home Depot for 12 years, he reduced the debt and modernized its e-commerce, as well as expanded their offerings in the home market.
With his sights now set on Lowe’s, the home improvement competitor of his former employer, he has similar issues to contend with.
Lowe’s has not participated in the Diversity Top 50 in the past, but their new history starts today.
Ellison, who had chaired the executive diversity council at JCPenney, served as an executive sponsor and made the majority of his direct reports women, said he owes his success to the values taught by his sharecropper father and mother, who was a factory worker: faith and moral strength, hard work and education, as well as gratitude for those who came before him and sacrificed. “Every day I am grateful,” said Ellison.