While the challenges of 2020 have led some women to leave the workforce due to the pandemic, others are rising to top levels of business, according to a new report. Women made gains in leadership roles in all sectors but private industry truly stepped up in the last year. This was more than simply platitudes and commitment statements but included accelerating the pace of appointments of women to the highest levels, showing results and being more flexible with its workforce during the pandemic.
“2020 might have been a difficult year, but this demonstrates that the time is now for women to move from C-Suite to CEOs and boards and all sectors,” says Edie Fraser, CEO of the Women’s Business Collaborative (WBC) which presented the report. “We expect accelerated progress in 2021. Expect accountability! Expect more good news.”
The number of women CEOs has risen from 6% in 2019 to a projected 8.2% by Feb. 2021.
WBC with C200 and Catalyst published the Women CEOs in America Report, the first report tracking women CEOs across public and private companies. 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. We expect 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 color.
Women of Color and Women Overall are Taking Seats on Boards of public Companies
WBC and Equilar joined forces to publish a monthly report, Women Joining Public Boards – the first report listing and tracking women named to public company boards. In the last three months, an average of 40% of appointments are women with one-third of those identifying as women of color. In November 2020 of the 113 women appointed to public boards, 44 identified as women of color. This is historic given that in January 2020, no women were appointed to boards of public companies in the Russell 3000 index.
NASDAQ put forth its commitment requiring its 3,000+ companies listed to improve boardroom diversity by appointing at least one woman and at least one minority or LGBTQ+ person. WBC and members of its Women in the Boardroom Initiative (a total of 11 partner organizations) voice support for NASDAQ’s commitment. WBC calls for women to hold 30% of Fortune 500, S&P and Russell 3000 seats by 2025 and 10% of those women be women of color.
“As vaccines are dispensed, food insecurity and economic pressures becomes acute, racial inequities and injustice laid bare and the Black Lives Matter movement recognized, this is truly good news of the accelerated results for women’s leadership in the private sector, particularly for women of color,” concluded WBC COO Gwen Young.
During this pandemic, the number of CEO successions has slowed, read our article on How 2020 Could Be Record-Low Year for CEO Turnover here.