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10% of the largest US companies now have female CEOs

March 8, 2023

Since the beginning of the year, five new women have joined the ranks of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, bringing the total number of women in such a position to 53. According to Forbes magazine, this means that, for the first time in history, more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs – a percentage that had remained at 8% for a long time.

“It’s fair to ask whether it’s worth celebrating a meager 2% difference, especially when it also makes clear how far we still have to go for equal representation (almost five times where we’re at today). Yet, these victories, however small, do matter. After all, the biggest leaps require innumerable small steps to make them possible. So before rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work, let’s take a moment to recognize how far we’ve come by celebrating some of the history-making women who brought us over the 10% line.”, wrote the journalist Liz Elting in her article.

Harvard attests

Recent Harvard research has shown that firms with more women in senior positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher-quality customer experiences — among many other benefits. Based on an analysis of more than 150 companies,  Corinne Post, Boris Lokshin, and Christophe Boone found that after women join the top management team, firms become more open to change and less open to risk, and they tend to shift from an M&A-focused strategy to more investment into internal R&D. 

“In other words, when women join the C-suite, they don’t just bring new perspectives — they actually shift how the C-suite thinks about innovation, ultimately enabling these firms to consider a wider variety of strategies for creating value.”, the authors concluded.

Hiring female CEOs changes how companies talk about women

That’s the conclusion of another study, released by Stanford School of Business. According to the paper, women in executive positions can challenge gender stereotypes about leadership — without sacrificing their likability.

“My hope in a 50- or 100-year time horizon is not just that women are conferred agentic traits but actually we expand our definition of effective leadership to also value communality and a broader set of traits within that remit,” M. Asher Laws, an assistant professor of decision sciences at INSEAD, says. “This reinforcing cycle of increased association of communality and increased representation of womanhood not only shows this cultural shift of embracing women but also of adopting a more diffuse meaning of what it means to be a good leader, which I think is really exciting.”

Source: Forbes | HBR | Stanford