McDonald’s Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson. (Photo: McDonald’s Corp)

The top rung of corporate America lost another Black CEO this week, when McDonald’s Corp. announced the retirement of President and Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson after 25 years with the company, effective March 1.

The company’s announcement was not expected, industry experts said, after a tumultuous year in which the restaurant’s earnings and global comparable sales dropped. The news that Thompson would step down and be succeeded by Steve Easterbrook, the company’s chief brand officer, pushed the corporation’s shares up 3 percent in after-market trading on Jan. 28.

“On behalf of the Board I sincerely thank Don for his valuable contributions and outstanding service throughout his career at McDonald’s. We will be indebted for his passionate leadership, business acumen, dedication and system knowledge,” Andrew McKenna, non-executive chairman of the McDonald’s Board of Directors, said in a statement.

“It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson said.

When Thompson took the helm of McDonald’s two years ago, he became the sixth African-American CEO in the Fortune 500, according to CNN Money. His departure leaves a paltry two African-American CEOs in the elite Dow 30, and a mere five CEOs among the nation’s 500 largest companies, according to a pro-diversity advocacy group cited by CNN.

It is an increasingly bleak diversity landscape, particularly given that African-Americans represent about 13 percent of the population, advocates said.

“Our numbers are going south on us,” said Ronald Parker, CEO of The Executive Leadership Council, an organization that works to boost diversity in corporate America.