The female CEO – she’s not the norm, and she’s not even close to being the majority. Right now just 5 percent of S&P 500 and Fortune 500 CEOs are women. However, women have worked very hard for that piece of the pie and continue to knock on the boardroom door. On this International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the gains and the strength that women add to the C-suite.
The Numbers: Women in the C-suite
Based on the January, 2017 S&P 500 list, women currently hold 29 (5.8 percent) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies.
Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a consulting firm in Chicago, says that of the 1,043 CEO replacements at U.S. companies in 2016, 193 (18.5 percent) were women. That’s a notable uptick from 2015, when 157 (15 percent) of new CEOs were women. And, in general, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there are more women in management and professional occupations than men, 30.6 million to 29.5 million.
“Women are definitely making gains in the management and professional occupations. As they do, more and more move up into the executive suite and are increasingly exposed to opportunities for the top spot,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger said in the news release.
Women represent just 5 percent of Fortune 1000 CEOs. On the bright side, those companies are profitable under female leadership, earning 7 percent of the total Fortune 1000 revenue.
What Women in the C-Suite Bring to the Table
Women often exhibit a more outward expression of their commitment to their jobs, teams or organizations when compared to men. This can sometimes be perceived as an emotional response, but it is actually borne out of passion to do their jobs and to serve their teams well. Women tend to feel personally responsible for the success of their teams and the business, which translates into passion that drives them day-in and day-out.
This passion also enables them to start or run a business while balancing life outside of the office. That ability and desire for work/life balance trickles down to their teams, creating a more flexible and understanding work environment. This is one of the biggest factors in creating a positive impact on the team. When employees feel that their time is respected, they are more likely to dedicate more efforts to their jobs. They then have a greater desire to see the business succeed.
According to an MIT research study on collaboration, the higher the proportion of women on a team, the more likely it is to have a high collective intelligence and the better the performance. This is largely because women are typically more discerning of what someone is thinking through human observation than men. The better you understand the team, the more likely you will be able to bring them together.
The study says, “Women, on average, score higher than men on the test of social perceptiveness, therefore women are, on average, more perceptive than men about their colleagues.”
In a study conducted by Ponemon Institute on behalf of 3M, researchers found that women actually worked harder than men. During a 10-minute trial using a privacy filter, women worked 4.9 minutes while men worked only 4.3 minutes. During a secondary experimental waiting period, both men and women were given the opportunity to walk away from the project. The results showed that 52 percent of male participants walked away compared to 38 percent of the female participants. It seems that women are more dedicated to get the job done.
We also know that quite a few women in the C-suite are also mothers. They are used to balancing multiple things at once and bring those skills into the workplace. Women have a natural ability to stay organized and remain motivated, despite the length of their to-do list.
Even though there aren’t many women in the C-suite (yet), those who are there bring a high level of expertise and dedication to their roles. There are also millions of women in management who are knocking on the boardroom door. So today, and every day, we celebrate all hard-working women and continue to dedicate ourselves to making sure they feel empowered!