Ursula Burns at Xerox Corporation: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN074
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2000-2011
Pub Date : 2011
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Xerox Corporation
Industry : Document management
Countries : US, Global

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Industry observers felt that Burns would act as an inspiration for many for having shattered the glass ceiling. They pointed out that despite being a black woman from a not too-well-to-do family, Burns had been able to achieve such success in life. They pointed out that, according to Catalyst , in 2009 women made up 59.6% of the US labor force, but less than 16% of top corporate officers were female (Refer to Exhibit IV for percentage of woman corporate officers in the US and to Exhibit V for how the percentage of women fall away at executive levels). The figures were even lower for minorities. Some analysts opined that Burns was a great role model for...

The Road Ahead

According to industry experts, Burns took the helm at Xerox at a challenging juncture as the company was showing signs of weakness due to the economic slowdown. In the US, the demand for printers was weak and customers had cut down spending on printing equipment and supplies. Sales were weak and the company's revenue was flat. In 2009, Xerox's sales dropped 14% to US$15.2 billion and the company cut thousands of jobs to lower costs. In the first quarter of 2009, Xerox's sales dropped 18% to US $3.6 billion, generating a profit of only US$49 million. "They're in the midst of another major restructuring. So Ursula has to get through that, but it's nothing new for her. She's been in charge of that effort," said Shannon Cross, managing director of Cross Research LLC...


Exhibit I Forbes Most Powerful Women 2010
Exhibit II A Brief Note on Xerox Corporation
Exhibit III A Brief Profile of Ursula Burns
Exhibit IV Percentage of Women Corporate Officers in the US
Exhibit VI Ursula Burns - Leadership Lessons
Exhibit VII Xerox's Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets
Exhibit VIII Xerox's Consolidated Statements of Income


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