While 2020 was a rollercoaster year plagued with unexpected job losses due to the pandemic, others rose to top levels of business. Women, in particular, made gains in leadership roles in all sectors. In the late 20th century, women made more rapid advances in the private sector, the gender wage gap narrowed, sex segregation in most professions greatly declined, and the percentage of women climbing the management ranks steadily rose.
2020 has been a record year for women CEOs with the Fortune 500 having the highest number of companies with female CEOs ever with female CEOs representing 37, or 7.4%, of the top 500 companies on the list. Although this figure seems low it is a big mark of progress. This is the largest representation of women ever on the list. In fact, over the last 20 years, Fortune 500 women CEOs increased 18 times over, although only two women made the list 20 years ago.
WBC with C200 and Catalyst published the Women CEOs in America Report, the first report tracking women CEOs across public and private companies. They shared that in December 2019, Women held 30 (6.0%) of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies. At the start of 2020, women comprised 6.7% of CEO positions, and at the close of 2020, women, hold 7.8% of CEO positions. The numbers are rising with UPS, Clorox, Citigroup, CVS, and Dick's Sporting Goods naming women CEOs. It was expected that 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 colour.
Global Female CEOs worth knowing
Women today lead 167 of the country’s top 3,000 companies. That’s more than double the share a decade ago, but still under 6%. Below is a list of female CEOs heading major companies globally:
- Susan Wojcicki-CEO of video-sharing platform YouTube. She is one of today’s highest-performing female CEOs.
- Lisa Su- CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc (AMD). Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) is an American semiconductor company that develops computer processors for both the business and consumer markets. The company provides hardware to Macbook, Sony’s PS4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, the latest Samsung smartphones and UAV military defence drones amongst others. Lisa Suis the highest-paid female CEO according to the Associated Press' annual report on CEO salaries.
- Mary Teresa Barra–the chairman and CEO of General Motors Company since January 15, 2014. She is the first female CEO of a major automaker. It is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit that designs, manufactures, markets, distributes vehicles and vehicle parts, and sells financial services. It is also the home of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC & Cadillac.
- Safra A. Catz- CEO of Oracle Corporation. Oracle is the world's largest database management Oracle provides products and services that address enterprise information technology (IT) environments
- Sonia Syngal- the president and CEO of GAP Inc. since March 2020. Syngal is one of the few female CEOs in the Fortune 500. The company operates six primary divisions: Gap (the namesake banner), Banana Republic, Old Navy, Intermix, Hill City, and Athleta. Gap Inc. is the largest speciality retailer in the United States, and is 3rd in total international locations, behind Inditex Group and H&M.
Female Zimbabwean CEOs to take note of
Zimbabwean women have risen through the corporate ladder to straddle the continent, with three of them making it to the list of the Top 100 Women chief executive officers in Africa.
- Founder and managing director of DDNS Security Operations, the holding company of Securico Security Services, Divine Ndhlukula
- First Mutual Life Assuarance Company CEO Ruth Ncube
- EcoCash’s Natalie Jabangwe stand with the best on the continent in a list compiled by Reset Global People and Pulse and Avalance Media of Ghana.
- Nestlé Zimbabwe appointed Eunice Ganyawu-Magwali as its managing director, becoming the firm’s first-ever female boss in 60 years of operation in the country.
- CEMENT manufacturer, Lafarge Zimbabwe (Limited) appointed Precious Nyika as Chief Executive Officer with effect from March 1 2020
British American Tobacco is the only listed company that has both the CEO and Chairperson of the board positions filled by women. Other companies that have lady led boards are CFI, Colcom, Medtech Holdings, Starafrica and Zimre Property. Including BAT the total is six. Those with lady CEO’s are Edgars, Fidelity Life, Getbucks, Lafarge and Nicoz Diamond. Again the total is six including BAT. This means less than 10% of all listed companies.
403 is the total number of directors who sit on the boards of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed companies that shared the composition of their boards in their last annual reports. Of these 403 powerful people, only 72 are women.
15 Reasons to Hire Female CEOs
- The Peterson Institute for International Economics completed a survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries and found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins.
- Having female senior leaders creates less gender discrimination in recruitment, promotion and retention, according to the Peterson Institute. That gives a company a better chance of hiring and keeping the most qualified people.
- Credit Suisse research over several years found that having women in management leads to a 19% higher return on equity and 9% higher dividend payments.
- Women-led CEOs have been associated with a 340% investment return
- In general, female-led companies shared the following characteristics compared to their male counterparts:
- More robust marketing teams
- Higher levels of publicity
- Stronger event planning
- Greater online presence
- studies such as those conducted by MIT and cited in The Huffington Postpoint to women's superior emotional intelligence – the ability to "read" a situation by correctly assessing other peoples' emotions – that results in better outcomes and higher performance.
- One key finding: Female-led businesses are better perceived than male-led businesses in all aspects of a crucial leadership driver: strategy.
- Research suggests that women are more likely to be picked for leadership roles to run distressed businesses. Women are thought to have a better personality to manage a crisis because they are seen as more intuitive, understanding, and empathetic than men
- Studies in 17 different countries in all different industries found that across the board, having a larger number of women on a team accounts for greater psychological safety, team confidence, group experimentation, and team efficiency.
- 50% of Americans say they’d prefer to work at a female-led company over a male-led company because they're more purpose-driven, more likely to have access to childcare, and are more likely to offer equal pay, according to a studyconducted by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll and The Female Quotient
- Peakon, a real-time HR insights platform, works with hundreds of organizations around the world to collect employee feedback and analyze the results to help them improve employee engagement. While constantly surveying the global workforce across 40 key categories, Peakon recently isolated five of the areas in which women-led companies are thriving relative to male-led companies: strategy, mission, belief, communication and autonomy. An anonymized subset of data spanning almost 60,000 employees under 3,000 managers was analyzed.
- In a Gallup study, female leaders scored higher than men in their ability to take initiative as well as self-development.
- Analysis from the Peterson Institute for International Economics noted that while “There is no statistically observable impact of having a female CEO … the correlation between women at the C-suite level and firm profitabilityis demonstrated repeatedly.” Analysts projected that a firm at which 30% of leaders are women could expect to see a 15% boost in profitability.
- Pew’s “Women and Leadership” survey revealed that 34% of women are better at being honest and ethical, compared to the 3% that say men are better at it.
- Women leaders are more conscious of ethics and fair treatment.
Women CEOs Statistics
- In 1980, there were no women in the top executive ranks of the Fortune 100 companies; by 2001, 11% of those corporate leaders were women.
- Women’s share of board seats in S&P 1500 companies increased 7.2 percentage points, or 94%, from 1997 to 2009, and their share of top executive positions increased 2.8 percentage points or 86%. The share of companies with female CEOs increased more than sixfold.
- 29% of senior management is female.
- 37 Fortune 500 companies are led by female CEOs.
- 31% of senior roles are held by women in the U.S.
- Female CEOs are more likely to be fired than male CEOs.
- Denise Coates, CEO of Bet365, earned $277 Million in 2019.
- Male vs female CEO statistics show a big gap in individual salaries paid.
- The Higher Up the Corporate Ladder, the Fewer Women
- A 2020 analysis by Mercer of over 1,100 organizations across the world found a leaky pipeline for women in leadership:
- Executives: 23%
- Senior managers: 29%
- Managers: 37%
- Professionals: 42%
- Support staff: 47%
An analysis titled, the Executive Leadership Outlook 2020, found more than half of organizations did not assess any female candidates during CEO searches and when only one woman was in line for a CEO position, she never landed the position.
Whilst 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, women still have a long way to go to catch up with the number of men in CEO positions but they are headed in the right direction.
Fadzai Danha is a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950 or email: [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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