Women CEOs Run 10.4% of Fortune 500 Companies. A Quarter of the 52 Leaders Became CEO in the Last Year.
At the beginning of this year, the Fortune 500 crossed a milestone: for the first time in history, women ran more than 10% of the businesses on the list of America’s largest public companies. Five months later, the 69th annual Fortune 500 ranking is out, and those CEOs are proving their staying power. Women run 10.4% of companies on the Fortune 500 this year.
The Fortune 500 ranks the largest U.S. public companies by revenue; the 500 companies on the list represent $18 trillion in revenue, more than two-thirds of U.S. GDP. The list is a microcosm for American business writ large, so the share of firms led by female CEOs sheds light on gender diversity in executive leadership beyond just this elite cohort.
This year, 52 companies out of 500 are led by female CEOs. That’s an 18% increase from 44 this time last year. Twelve CEOs were hired to their jobs within the past year, a rate that reflects the rapid pace of executive turnover post-pandemic.
The rise of female CEOs signals an understanding among companies and boards that female and diverse leaders are an asset at this particular moment. As Julie Sweet, the CEO of Accenture, says she advises corporate leaders: “The era of A.I. is requiring companies to reinvent every aspect—we call it total enterprise reinvention,” she says. Diverse leaders, who also tend to hire more diverse teams that support business innovation, are especially well-suited to that challenge. “Diverse leaders have had to continuously reinvent and adapt at a personal level throughout their careers. They’re resilient, adaptable, and have to be pioneers.”