Executive Summary and Forward
About this report
It is with great pleasure, Women Business Collaborative (WBC), with Ascend, C200 and Catalyst, release the third annual report highlighting Women CEO’s in America. This year there are several reasons for celebration that go beyond the raw number—women CEOs in the Fortune 500 are 8.8%. The talent is there, and insightful CEOs, more women on boards and nominating committees are making a difference together. We salute the industries in which women CEOs are rising and the increase of women in the boardroom.
Additionally, since we closed out data collection for this report on June 30, 2022, nine other women have been named to CEO roles in major corporations across indices and industries. For example, with its naming of Mary Dillon as President and Dona Young as Chair, Foot Locker becomes a happy rarity among publicly held companies, with two women at the helm of its board and C-Suite. Congratulations to Foot Locker and its two new leaders. On August 1, 2022, Jennifer Rumsey also became President and CEO of Cummins Inc., the largest independent maker of diesel engines and related products in the world. These appointments are a breakthrough in largely male-dominated industries and perhaps a signal for the future.
While things are moving in the right direction, the small, year-to-year increase in the overall number of women in CEO positions is concerning. Women’s ascension to CEO roles seems to move at a snail’s pace, especially for women of color. That is why our shared goal for this report is not just reporting, but galvanizing, energizing and motivating organizations to usher in more women to the C-Suite and then to CEO roles. There is definitely reason for optimism as we see an increasing commitment to populate the C-Suite with more women. And it is happening. So, we celebrate the women heading up these major corporations and the boards leading the way in the advancement of female talent to the highest corporate levels. We look forward to congratulating more and more of them in the months and years ahead.
The Data: An Overview
Since September 2021, three more women took on the roles of CEO in the Fortune 500 bringing the number up from 41 to 44, an all-time high. The S&P 500 went from 30 women last year to 32 in 2022. The Russell 3000 showed an especially encouraging increase in women CEOs, going from 158 in 2021 to 186 in the first half of 2022, an increase of 28 or 17.72%. For private companies with revenues over $1 billion dollars, there are 58 women CEOs and 6 are in the top 50 companies of that category.
Since the close-out of data collection on June 30th, 2022, the following nine women have been named to CEO roles: Julie Baron, Trean Insurance Group; Jennifer Rumsey, Cummins; Patricia H Nilsen, New York State Electric and Gas Corporation; Suzanne Winter, Accuray Inc., Dr. Maky Zanganeh, Summit Therapeutics, Dr. Marla Dubinsky, Trellus Health Plc; Corinne Le Goff, Celsion Corp.; Dr. Maky Zanganeh, Summit Therapeutics and Mary Dillon, Foot Locker. This brings the percentage to 9% as of the writing of this report.
A Collaboration of Like Minds with a Common Goal
- Ascend is the largest Pan-Asian business professional membership organization in North America dedicated to driving workplace and societal impact by developing and elevating all Asian and Pacific Islander (API) business leaders and empowering them to become catalysts for change.
- C200is a women’s business leadership organization celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2022. Its mission is to educate, inspire, support, and advance women in business. Its community includes the most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate business leaders who have joined together to change the face of business leadership.
- Catalyst is a global nonprofit supported by many of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Founded in 1962, Catalyst drives change with preeminent thought leadership, actionable solutions, and a galvanized community of multinational corporations to accelerate and advance women into leadership—because progress for women is progress for everyone. As Catalyst celebrates 60 years of progress for women in the workplace, we see unprecedented opportunities to finally create workplaces that work for all.
- Women’s Business Collaborative (WBC) is an unprecedented alliance of 75+ women’s business organizations and hundreds of business leaders building a movement to achieve equal position, pay, and power for all women in business. Through collaboration, advocacy, action, and accountability, we mobilize thousands of diverse professional women and men, business organizations, public and private companies to accelerate change.
More Than Just the Numbers
As in past years, this Women CEOs in America, report offers much more than just the data related to women leading the country’s major corporations. We provide insights that further clarify what is happening and why. This year’s insights focus on:
- Today’s Challenges in Building a Diverse Pipeline
- Obstacles Faced by Minority Women
- The Promise and the Challenges That Current and Future Women Entrepreneurs Face
- The Potential and Promise of B Corporations
- Empathy as a Key Skill for All CEOs
These insights add depth and breadth to the data and help position the numbers in the context of not just corporate America but our society as a whole.
We have again included brief biographical profiles of all the women CEOs in the Fortune 500, the Fortune 1000, the S&P 500, the Russell 3000, in private companies with revenues over $1 billion and of women entrepreneurs with revenues over $500 million. These biographical sketches are both informational and inspirational.
They underscore the diverse paths these women took to the C-Suite, the plethora of skills and competencies they bring to their roles, and the passion for their companies, their customers and their shareholders that continually motivates them to practice at the top of their games.
5 Important Takeaways From This Report and Beyond
- Change IS afoot. While the numbers show slow progress at the highest levels of the country’s leading corporations, there are optimistic indicators of gender equity moving in a positive direction. First there are more boards recognizing the number of talented women CEO ready from the C-Suite. There are more women board directors advocating for the advancement of talented women to CEO posts. As well, corporate cultures appear to be changing. There is a greater awareness of unconscious bias, a more widespread acceptance that diversity is as much about good business as it is about good citizenship, and an increased realization that managers at all levels need to be held accountable for supporting and promoting women on their teams.
- Tolerance and inclusion. The younger generations of workers, Millennials and Gen. Z, bring to the workplace a desire for tolerance and inclusion previously unseen. This diverse talent pool will not only help increase the actual number of women in higher corporate levels but will also help create an unprecedented environment of acceptance and inclusion in the years to come.
- Change must start at the top. CEOs and boards must make it clear that diversity and inclusion are a necessity, not a nicety. They must do it with both their words and their actions, and most importantly recognize that there is gender talent with P&L leadership. They must prioritize gender diversity in their succession planning and in their hiring and promotion practices. Additionally, they should look to using search firms that include talented and diverse candidates for C-Suite positions. It is proven to be an effective strategy.
- Mentors and sponsors matter. Women remain at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to mentors, networks, and sponsors. This career-stalling problem needs to be attacked on a number of fronts. Women themselves must be more intentional about finding them. Organizations must provide both formal and informal avenues for women to create mentor, networking, and sponsor relationships. Corporate leaders, both male and female, must step up and serve as mentors and sponsors to early and mid-career women.
- Diverse leadership is linked to performance. Women CEOs in the public and private sectors, and women leaders in government cast a positive light on the talents, skills and contributions that women bring to their companies and their communities. Additionally, numerous studies have pointed to the improved performance of organizations with diverse leadership. It is important for our society and its organizations to fully embrace the power and the benefits of gender diversity at the top. A goal which all four of our organizations actively promote.
Certain points bear repeating.
Data, targets and transparency matter.
A Call to Action
- Women constitute 15% of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEO
- 10% of women CEOs are women of color
- Women constitute 20% of those being considered for CEO role
- 20% of women executive candidates assessed for CEO roles
- 25% of candidates assessed for C-suite roles are women
- 8% of women occupying the C-Suite have substantial P&L responsibility
- 20% increase in women entrepreneurs running companies with revenue of $5 million or more
- Women constitute 20% of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEO
- 30% of candidates assessed for C-Suite roles are women and of these 25% are women of color
- 10% of all women in the C-Suite are women of color by 2030
- 17% of women occupying the C-Suite have substantial P&L responsibility
… AND …
Once again, we put out a call to companies of all types, across all industries to join us in a commitment to strengthen the pipeline of women leaders and to make diversity a priority in succession planning.
We also reiterate WBC’s commitment to the following action items to further the cause of gender diversity and inclusion at the highest corporate levels:
- Highlighting women CEOs and the businesses they lead through annual reports such as this, as well as other publications throughout the year.
- In partnership with Ascend, C200, and Catalyst continuing to track, profile, and publicly celebrate the appointment of new women CEOs.
- Celebrating the strong leaders advancing women in the executive suite and toward the CEO position.
- Actively supporting efforts to build pathways for women of color to be advanced to executive leadership, board directorships, and executive committees.
- Designing a communications campaign to build awareness and amplify voices of support.
- Sharing this report with CEOs through many sources, including the CEO Forum reaching 10,000 CEOs, with the Business Roundtable and other business trade associations.
- Calling on current CEOs and Boards to be intentional in building a diverse pipeline for talented women as CEOs.
- Applauding every woman and women of color appointment and together we will salute them as announced.
Join us in both changing the business landscape and celebrating!