“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”
– Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, Meta Platforms (2008-2022)
Women in c-suite roles have witnessed remarkable growth in the past couple of years. The first-ever female CEO of a Fortune 500 company was hired in 1972. Katharine Graham took over The Washington Post, a Fortune 500 firm, as the first-ever female CEO in 1972. According to Moneyzine, merely seven women were at the helm of Fortune 500 companies two decades ago, but today, the number of top female bosses has gone up to fifty-three. They run about 10.4% of Fortune 500 companies. Women as CEOs are no longer an oddity as the corporate boards and conglomerates embrace gender and racial diversity. Boards are pushing women leaders within the company for the top jobs. Their ability to excel as leaders and the talent to manage unforeseen situations with effective contingency plans are some of the vital aspects owing to which women as CEOs are getting the nod.
The Most Powerful and Trailblazing Women C-suite
The number of women in the highest ranking corporate role might seem lesser than that of male CEOs, but the number is significantly increasing. Let us take a look at the Top 10 female CEOs listed on Fortune’s Global 500 list. A few of these avant-garde female CEOs are also part of the Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women list.
1. Karen Lynch (CEO – CVS Health)
Karen Lynch, an American businesswoman, assumed the CEO role for the world’s leading healthcare provider, CVS, in February 2021. In her illustrious career in CVS Health, she had adorned the role of executive vice president and its corporation insurance arm, Atena’s president. With an enormous experience in healthcare, she occupies the 8th position in the Forbes World’s Most Powerful Women.
2 . T. Barra (CEO – General Motors)
Mary Barra took over the reins of General Motors in January 2014. Under her leadership, the automobile giant is transitioning into electric vehicles and self-driving car manufacturing, embracing workplace gender balance and pay equity with great zeal. Ranking 4th in the Forbes list of most powerful women, Mary Barra is the first-ever female CEO to head a leading American automobile manufacturing company.
3. Gail Boudreaux (CEO – Elevance Health)
Gail Koziara Boudreaux, an American businesswoman, became the CEO of health insurance provider Elevance 2017. She has esteemed positions across various prestigious healthcare firms, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and United health care, and is ranked by Forbes as the 16th most powerful woman in the world.
4. Rosalind Brewer (CEO – Walgreens Boots Alliance)
Rosalind Brewer, an American businesswoman, was appointed CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance in 20121. She had previously served as the CEO of Sam’s Club group. In her tenure as the president and COO of Starbucks, she successfully implemented racial bias training for employees. Ranked as 13 in Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women, Rosalind Brewer also has the honor of occupying Amazon’s board.
5. Jane Fraser (CEO – Citigroup)
Jane Frazer is Citogroup’s first–ever female CEO and the first woman to helm a Wall Street bank. Ranked by Forbes as the 10th most powerful woman in the world, she has led Citigroup’s crucial acquisitions and mergers during the financial crisis.
6. Carol Tome (CEO – United Parcel Service)
The shipping giant UPS (United Parcel Service) chose Carol Tome as its CEO in the year 2020. She is also its first outsider CEO and its first-ever female chief executive. She occupies the 21st spot as Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women. Before UPS, Carol served a long tenure as CFO of Home Depot until 2019.
7 . Safra Catz (CEO – Oracle)
American billionaire banker and technology executive Safra Catz has been the CEO of Oracle since 2014. She is known to have spearheaded Oracle’s acquisition drive. In December 2017, she was also elected to the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company. She occupies the 19th spot as Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women and was considered the highest-paid female CEO of any U.S. company in 2017
8. Thasunda Brown Duckett (CEO – TIAA)
Thasund Duckett, an American woman, was appointed the CEO of retirement and investment manager TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America) in February 2021. She was ranked 37th on Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women. Before taking over TIAA’s c-suite, she served as the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, overseeing a network with more than $600 billion in deposits and 50,000 employees.
9. Phebe Novakovic (CEO – General Dynamics)
Phebe Novakovic, a former CIA operative, has been the CEO of defense behemoth General Dynamics since 2013. She occupies the 30th position in Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Women, is one of the few female executives in the military-industrial space, and is also a JP Morgan Chase board member.
10. Lynn Good (CEO, President & Chairwoman – Duke Energy)
Before becoming CEO of Duke Energy in 2013, Lynn Good was also the CFO of this commercial energy business. Under her stewardship, Duke Energy has invested in solar energy, power grid modernization, and natural gas infrastructure development. Forbes ranks her as the 66th most powerful woman in the world.
Women CEOs Are Great for Businesses
According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review, companies with women c-suite have witnessed more profitability and achieved customer excellence. Firms with women CEOs embrace transformation with great vigor as they bring in new ideas. Additionally, companies with female CEOs have shown a gradual shift from a knowledge-buying strategy to a knowledge-building strategy for mitigating risks to sustain and thrive. Apart from this, women CEOs have proved to be highly capital-efficient. Companies headed by women CEOs have seen a 20% increase in stock prices and a 25% increase in annual returns.
C-suite executives are vital for an organization. They hold the reins of the businesses and have the capabilities to take it toward success under their leadership. The number of women taking up C-suite roles has gradually increased over the years. It is estimated that the male CEO percentage will be in sync with the female CEO by the year 2060. More conglomerates and other large, small, and medium-sized companies should embrace gender diversity so that several women adorn the roles of top brass in their organizations.