Campaign Launches to Achieve Goal of 100 Women as CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – One in four Americans believe "humans will colonise Mars" before half of Fortune 500 CEOs will be women. This humorous conclusion riffs on the sober truth of today's corporate reality: only 21 women are at the helm of Fortune 500 companies; only one-woman CEO was added to that small group in 2015. Now, the Rockefeller Foundation has launched the 100×25 campaign, bringing together people from all corners of the workplace, from office to the boardroom, to work to reach the goal of 100 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies by 2025.

Across geographies and income levels, disparities between men and women persist in the form of pay gaps, uneven opportunities for advancement and unbalanced representation in important decision-making. Yet, women leaders have been proven to be beneficial for both the company and individual employees. Based on data from the Bloomberg World Equity Index, the top performing companies, based on stock performance over two years, had the highest ratio of female executives. According to Catalyst, companies with more women in top roles generate 34 percent greater returns to shareholders.

There is evidence by the Rockefeller Foundation to suggest that when women lead, pay gaps between men and women narrow and newly hired employees are offered more equitable pay, regardless of gender. The Rockefeller research also shows that 84 percent of Americans agree that businesses have a responsibility to actively recruit women into leadership positions and that efforts to eliminate gender disparities in the C-suite and the boardroom can go a long way towards improving opportunity for women to advance within the workplace.

The good news is that more companies are introducing initiatives to help make their workplace more inclusive. For instance, Mary Barra is the first female CEO of General Motors (GM) and the first female CEO of a major automotive company. Barra has transformed the company’s culture and under her leadership GM launched ‘Take 2 Career Re-Entry,’ an internship program that brings female engineers, who have taken a break in their careers, back into the workforce. Ernst & Young has developed a plan to ensure women are given opportunities to move up the ranks through education and networking opportunities, and mentorship and sponsorship from senior executives. As a result, women in top executive management positions have increased by over 20 percent.

The corporate sector is lagging behind other sectors like philanthropy and academia. Culture and perceptions need to change; that’s why the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100×25 campaign is important. Yet, this initiative can only do so much. CEOs and their boards need to get behind it.

Photo Credit: Rockfeller Foundation