Where are the Women CEOs?

by Galia Gichon on May 18, 2011

There was an excellent special report in the Wall Street Journal about Women in the Economy.  Did you know that there are only 11 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies?  And that number is going down from previous years – not up!  This is clearly not a trend working in women’s favor.  A few suggestions and observations are detailed below.  These are changes that don’t happen overnight but we should not be dissuaded and feel that we cannot do anything.  Let’s start with consciousness.


Potential Not Performance

What struck a chord with me was a comment by Vikram Malhotra of McKinsey and Co.  “Middle management women get promoted on performance.  Middle management men get promoted on potential.”  A solution is to get women out of traditional corporate roles like HR and transform them to departments that are profit centers and therefore grooming them for more executive roles, such as CEO.  If more women focus on departments that are “untraditional” for women, the standards will change in how we work there.


More Kids = Less Promotion

The more kids a woman has, the less interested she was in promotion.  While men are the opposite; the more kids they have, the more they were interested in promotion.  Clearly women do not feel the corporate and familial support as they move up the ladder.  Flexibility in the workplace could change that.


Get On Board

Another key action step that empowered me was to get more women on corporate boards.  One way to do this is to create training programs to teach women how to get on a board and how to make the most of it.  The media can also highlight corporations that have women on their boards.  Make it as transparent as possible.  I recently took a course, the OP-ED project, about getting more women to write OP-ED pieces in major news publications.  The purpose is to get our voices heard and issues heard.  This isn’t much different.


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