The number of female Fortune 500 CEOs reaches new record of 41

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods recently announced Lauren Hobart would become the company’s CEO, raising the number of women leading Fortune 500 companies to 41.
  • Her appointment follows news of other women taking the helm at top companies, like Karen Lynch at CVS Health, Jane Fraser at Citigroup, and Linda Rendle at Clorox. 
  • Yet, only three women on the list of Fortune 500 female CEOs are women of color, according to Fortune. 
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The number of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies who are women has reached a new record.

Last week, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that Lauren Hobart, the company’s president of three years, would take the helm as CEO. She is replacing Ed Stack, who’s held the position since 1984 and whose father founded Dick’s in 1948. 

Hobart’s appointment brings the number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to 41 surpassing the previous record high of 40, Fortune reported. Hobart joins a number of other women who’ve recently been named CEO, like Karen Lynch at CVS Health, Jane Fraser at Citigroup, and Linda Rendle at Clorox. 

Despite the recent progress, roughly 8% of all Fortune 500 companies are led by women. And only three women on the list of Fortune 500 CEOs are women of color: Sonia Syngal, the CEO of Gap, Lisa Su, the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, and Joey Wat, the CEO of Yum China.

According to McKinsey and Lean In’s most recent “Women in the Workplace” report, the number of women in the C-suite grew from 17% to 21% between January 2015 and January 2020. 

As the researchers write, “Women remained dramatically underrepresented — particularly women of color — but the numbers were slowly improving.” 

To increase the number of Black women and women of color in executive leadership positions, diversity, equity, and inclusion strategists recommend companies to review hiring practices, increase sponsorship opportunities for people from marginalized backgrounds, and to hold managers accountable to diversity goals. 

McKinsey research shows companies with more gender and ethnic diversity in the C-suite outperform those that are less diverse. 

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Women Loved These CEOs In 2020

There’s a common saying that “people leave their managers, not their jobs.” And while there can be a variety of factors as to why individuals leave their bosses – a toxic work environment, being overworked, feeling like you’re not allowed to grow or utilize your strengths – many times these issues stem from larger organizational issues. For example, if top executives only care about improving their company’s bottom line and are willing to sacrifice anything to do so, that mentality trickles down through management and will be felt by everyone in the company. Individuals in the C-suite have the power to shape and alter an entire company, for better or for worse.

Finding leaders who remain focused and committed to improving gender equality in the workplace, while simultaneously working to keep their businesses successful presented its own new challenges this past year due to the pandemic’s dramatic toll on virtually every aspect of society. Yet, the winners of this year’s Best Companies Where CEOs Support Gender Diversity have proven that they’re not only maintaining progress in their companies, but actively pushing the gender equality needle further, which is what we need from leaders if we want to see true equality in our lifetimes. 

The winners are determined based on anonymous employee reviews left on Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women, by averaging scores to the question: Do you think your CEO supports gender diversity? In other words, the companies and CEOs that make the list are chosen entirely by the women who work for them. 

So during a year that has been incredibly harsh to women, which companies’ CEOs stood out and were voted the best? This year’s winners are:

  1. Equinix, Cornerstone OnDemand, DTCC and Elastic (4-way tie)
  2. Ultimate Kronos Group (formerly Ultimate Software)
  3. Ampersand
  4. Marsh & McLennan
  5. The Hartford
  6. PVH Corp.
  7. Pariveda Solutions
  8. Siemens
  9. Xandr
  10. The Hanover Insurance Group
  11. Sandia National Laboratories
  12. Cisco
  13. Boston Scientific
  14. CDW Corporation
  15. Deloitte

When asked why he’s keeping gender equality at the forefront of his company, Charles Meyers, President and CEO of Equinix, said, “Our commitment to attracting, inspiring and developing diverse talent is critical to our business. Not only is it the right thing to do, [but] we know that it makes us a better company. We’re going to continue to make sure that Equinix is a culture where every person, every day can confidently say ‘I’m safe, I belong and I matter.’”

Phil Saunders, CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand, said, “Gender equality and gender diversity make us a better company. Our company is more collaborative and productive, and our people are happier.” 

It’s true that gender diverse workforces are good for business – companies with greater gender diversity are more collaborative and perform better financially – but all of the winners spoke to the importance of an inclusive company culture. 

“Part of our source code at Elastic is ‘come as you are’ and we believe people are happier, more engaged and more productive when they can bring their whole selves to work,”

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