There are currently 22 women at the helm of Fortune 500 companies with the new CEO of Progressive announced last week. Despite that good news, with women making up nearly half of today’s labor force, why is it that less than 5 percent of companies are led by a woman CEO, and 60 percent of publicly listed companies are without any women on their boards?
Both men and women believe corporate America is falling short in terms of advancing gender equality in leadership positions and that business leaders are best positioned to create solutions to the problem. We believe it is time to ignite a conversation on why the private sector—particularly the Fortune 500—has been the hardest glass ceiling to crack. In order to ignite such a conversation and The Rockefeller Foundation launched the 100×25 campaign last week, calling for 100 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies by the year 2025.
“Both men and women believe corporate America is falling short in terms of advancing gender equality in leadership positions and that business leaders are best positioned to create solutions to the problem.”
The 100×25 campaign asks CEOs—both male and female—to commit to implementing a change within their company that will work to achieve gender equality in the workplace and bring more women into the C-suite. These changes are not only meant to benefit women in leadership, but employees at every level throughout the workforce.
There is data to support the push for more women in leadership. The Rockefeller Foundation and grantee Global Strategy Group issued a new research report on the topic of gender parity in business leadership positions. According to the new report, 9 in 10 Americans think that there are more women leading Fortune 500 companies than there actually are. And 40 percent of Americans think women should make up at least half of the top executives at Fortune 500 companies.
Americans also agree that business leaders and companies have a significant role to play in reducing the gender gap in leadership positions. The new research showed that 84 percent of Americans agree that businesses have a responsibility to actively recruit women into leadership position—yet, only one-third of Americans say their current workplace places a high priority on having women in leadership positions.
So, what if there were 100 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies by 2025?
If the gender gap in business leadership positions is closed, Americans believe there will be a significant shift toward more inclusive workplaces, and more young women will strive to reach those top spots.
The Foundation’s research found Americans feel that having more women in leadership positions would have significant benefits, including reducing the pay gap between men and women for the same work, changing workplace policies in ways that benefit both men and women, and attracting a more diverse workforce. Additionally, two-thirds of men and women said it is especially important for younger women starting their careers to have more women in leadership positions as role models.
Together, we can define the future of work and the global economy through the advancement of gender parity in the workplace.