The number of women CEOs rose by 2% last year to a historic high, according to the Women CEOs in America Report published by the Women Business Collaborative, C200 and Catalyst.
In December 2019, women held 30 (6%) of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies. At the start of 2020, the number was 6.7%, and at the close of 2020, women held 7.8% of CEO positions, with UPS, Clorox, Citigroup, CVS and Dick’s Sporting Goods naming women to lead their companies.
“We expect women CEOs to constitute 8.2% of CEOs by February 2021 and 15% of Fortune 500 and S&P roles by 2025, with 10% of those being women of color,” the report said.
However, the women in top ranks club lost a member last week when JCPenney announced that CEO Jill Soltau would step down and would be replaced by Stanley Shashoua, the chief investment officer for Simon Property Group, who will serve as interim CEO as the company searches for a new leader.
The Women Joining Public Boards report published by WBC showed that in the last three months, about 40% of board appointments were women, with one-third of those identifying as women of color.
“2020 might have been a difficult year, but this demonstrates that the time is now for women to move from C-suite to CEOs and boards and all sectors,” said Edie Fraser, CEO of WBC. “We expect accelerated progress in 2021.”
Nasdaq proposed last month requiring its 3,000-plus listing companies to appoint at least one woman and at least one minority or LGBTQ+ person, an initiative WBC said in a statement it supports. WBC calls for women to hold 30% of Fortune 500, S&P and Russell 3000 seats by 2025 and 10% of those women be women of color.
“Nasdaq’s purpose is to champion inclusive growth and prosperity to power stronger economies,” said Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq. “Our goal with this proposal is to provide a transparent framework for Nasdaq-listed companies to present their board composition and diversity philosophy effectively to all stakeholders; we believe this listing rule is one step in a broader journey to achieve inclusive representation across corporate America.”