The Future of Women in CEO Positions

In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile female CEO hires, including Lockheed Martin, CEO Marillyn Hewson and General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the first woman to ever lead a major auto maker. This is encouraging and we are hearing more and more about women in the C-suite. Nonetheless, only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at the companies in the S&P 500 are held by women, according to a CNNMoney analysis. It’s even worse if you just consider the very top. Out of 500 companies, there are only 23 female CEOs.

“It’s kind of shocking really. With all of the attention the issue gets, you’d think companies would be doing better,” said Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School. In order for women to reach CEO positions, they must be in the pipeline of promotable associates well before they reach the age of 53, which is currently the average age of those being promoted to the CEO level.

While 332 of the 2,500 biggest publicly traded companies globally brought in a new executive officer, women filled just 10 of those positions, according to a study from management consulting firm Strategy&. Despite increased numbers of women entering higher education and the global work force, the number of women filling top executive roles hasn’t moved for some time. In the past 10 years, 84 women have taken over the top role at the world’s largest firms compared with 2,942 men, according to Strategy&.

Strategy&’s findings on gender imbalance in the C-suite may not be encouraging, but its projection for the future is brighter. Citing trends in women going on to higher education, the share of women in the workforce and shifting social norms, researchers claim as much as a third of the incoming CEO class will be made up of women by 2040.

“Shark Tank” investing star Kevin O’Leary says women lead all of his flooring franchises that are currently showing returns. “All the cash in the last two quarters is coming from companies run by women,” he told Business Insider, referring to the companies in which he has investments. “I don’t have a single company run by a man right now that’s outperformed the ones run by women.

Though the higher education women are achieving and the shifting social norms are paramount to the trend of more women being promoted to CEO positions; it is no doubt that the innate listening, reasoning and multi tasking skills that they have developed for centuries in the family unit, are every bit as important. With all of these skills and attributes combined, the future looks extremely bright.

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