Home » Meet Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first Black woman to own a billion-dollar company

Meet Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first Black woman to own a billion-dollar company

by Omokolade Ajayi
Janice Bryant Howroyd

Renowned for her unwavering commitment to attaining unparalleled excellence, Janice Bryant Howroyd has indelibly etched her name in the annals of history as a visionary pioneer, shattering barriers as the first Black woman to own and lead a billion-dollar company.

As the founder and CEO of ActOne Group, an employment agency that provides workforce solutions for companies, she has revolutionized the workforce solutions industry and touched the lives of millions across the globe.

From secretary to entrepreneur: Janice Bryant Howroyd’s journey to extraordinary success

Born on Sept. 1, 1952, in North Carolina, Howroyd is the fourth of 11 children in her family. With only $900 to her name, she embarked on a journey to Los Angeles at the age of 24, seeking new opportunities and a brighter future. Little did she know that this leap of faith would set her on a path to extraordinary success.

Howroyd’s journey began when she secured a temporary job as a secretary for her brother-in-law at Billboard. However, fate had bigger plans for her. When her brother-in-law had to attend a conference in Europe, Howroyd found herself in charge of the office.

Her dedication and resourcefulness quickly transformed the workplace, leaving her brother-in-law astounded upon his return. It was this pivotal moment that ignited the fire within her to become an entrepreneur.

In 1978, at the age of 26, Howroyd established her human resources firm in Beverly Hills. Despite lacking her own fax machine, she fearlessly dove into the business world, making full-time job placements for companies in need. As word spread about her exceptional services, her client base grew, and ActOne Group was born.

ActOne Group: A $3.4 billion powerhouse pioneering inclusive workforce solutions worldwide

Today, ActOne has blossomed into a $3.4 billion workforce solutions organization, spanning over 30 countries. With cutting-edge technologies and a commitment to excellence, Howroyd’s company offers talent and resource-management solutions to organizations of all sizes. ActOne Group’s impact is felt worldwide, creating jobs and careers for millions of workers.

What sets Howroyd apart is her unwavering dedication to inclusivity and diversity. Raised in the segregated educational system of the deep south, she understands the importance of equal opportunities for all. The values of diversity, equity, and inclusion permeate every aspect of her leadership style, her engagements with the public and media, her philanthropy, and the culture of ActOne Group.

ActOne’s mission is to become the global partner for the business community in providing forward-thinking talent and resource-management solutions. In 2022 alone, the company generated an impressive $1.1 billion in revenue, serving over 17,000 clients in 33 countries. 

Janice Bryant Howroyd: From entrepreneur to philanthropist, pioneering education and empowerment

Thanks to her professional achievements, Janice Bryant Howroyd has amassed a net worth of $600 million, making her the fourth-richest Black woman in America. Her entrepreneurial success has allowed her to invest in over a dozen properties, including commercial buildings and residences, solidifying her status as a prominent figure in the business world.

Howroyd’s contributions extend far beyond the realms of entrepreneurship, her passion for advocacy and service has led to her appointment to various esteemed committees, including the Presidential Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities under President Barack Obama and the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment.

As an advocate for education and empowerment, Howroyd recently assumed the role of chair of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University. Her dedication to fostering inclusive programs for women and minorities is further exemplified by her donation of $10 million to the University of Southern California, making her the first African American to do so.

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