By Kimber Maderazzo, Chair at C200
For women in the business world, we know all too well how slow and distressful making progress can be. Despite that, women continue to push for more equality as business leaders because we are seeing great strides being made. It takes time, determination and hard work to move the needle slightly forward toward your goal. This is why we do the work we do, this is why women need to be intentional about advancing other women forward.
Through C200, I had the pleasure of helping create the third annual Women CEOs in America Report alongside Women Business Collaborative, Ascend and Catalyst to show just how far we’ve come. The number of women in C-suite positions across the country has hit historic highs, which is impressive considering just 34 years ago, women couldn’t get a business loan without a male co-signer.
While this is great progress, there is still work to be done, and transparency is the key to making that happen.
What Does Progress Look Like?
“This report highlights what we’ve long known about women’s advancement to the top job in the C-suite: The progress is slow, but it is possible,” said Lorraine Hariton, president and CEO of Catalyst. When this report was first written, 8.8% of women were at the helm of Fortune 500 companies. That number now sits at 9%!
For a broader view of the state of women in business, we look at the Russell 3000. This index, unlike the Fortune 500 or S&P 500, includes a wider group of companies listed in the stock market that aren’t included on other indexes. There are 3,000 publicly traded U.S. companies included. In 2021, there were 158 companies that had a woman as CEO. This year, there are 186 female CEOs of Russell 3000 companies like Sirius XM Holdings, La-Z-Boy and Sally Beauty Holdings. As for private companies, 14.2% of companies have at least one woman on their board and in 2021, one more woman was appointed CEO of a privately held company.
Diversity is Key
Progress is slow in corporate America, but we are seeing a lot of growth in the number of women starting businesses, especially women of color. Women own 40% of all companies in America, but it is women of color who have been a driving force in pushing that number higher. Black and Latina founders are starting businesses in record numbers. According to data from ProjectDiane, the number of Black and Latina women-owned startups doubled between 2018 and 2020 with over 650 startups across the country. More of these businesses are receiving funding too.
This progress is something to be celebrated, but there is a lot of work to do. Right now, women of color only make up 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs.
We created this report to hold companies accountable. To keep moving forward, executives need to make sure women, especially women of color, have equal access to leadership opportunities, networks, funding and continuing education for advancement.
Keep Moving Forward
To keep up this momentum, we are calling on companies across the country to help us. By 2025, we want to see women make up 15% of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEOs and women of color make up 10% of CEOs.
The best way we can continue to shift perspectives and make changes is by leaning on each other and demanding more women get a seat at the table.
At C200, we strive to be a force of change and give women a network of like-minded female business executives and owners to help push them to new heights. If you are looking for a group of female leaders who will help you get to the top of your business, consider joining C200 and send in an application at c200.org.