New research report commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation shows American men and women believe business leaders and companies have the greatest responsibility when it comes to creating gender equality in the workplace
NEW YORK—Today at the Forbes Women’s Summit, The Rockefeller Foundation announced a commitment to accelerate the number of women leaders in corporate America through the launch of “100×25,” an ongoing and multi-faceted campaign that will influence decision makers to achieve the goal of 100 women leading Fortune 500 companies by 2025. 100×25 is the first in a series of campaigns that will ask “what if” questions that will define the future of work and the global economy.
The Foundation also released a new research report conducted by grantee Global Strategy Group on the topic of gender parity in leadership positions in business. The underlying research found that 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.
Currently, only 21 women are at the helm of Fortune 500 companies and only one woman was hired as a CEO in 2015. This reality is at odds with Americans’ perceptions of progress toward gender parity in leadership positions in 2016. According to The Rockefeller Foundation’s new research report, 9 in 10 Americans think 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 Foundation’s research showed 84 percent of Americans agree that businesses have a responsibility to actively recruit women into leadership positions. Yet, only one-third of Americans said their current workplace places a high priority on having women in leadership positions.
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.
“Today women make up nearly half of the workforce, yet less than 5 percent of companies are led by a woman CEO. The corporate sector, particularly the Fortune 500, has been the toughest sector to crack. And when we see that 60 percent of publicly listed companies have no women on their boards, it becomes understandable why it is harder and harder to have women who rise through the corporate ranks,” said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Women deserve a greater say in the future of work, and the 100×25 campaign will be used as a platform to advance a more inclusive economy that creates more opportunities for more people—from entry-level to the C-suite.”
“As a society, we face a great threat with the rising tide of inequality,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce. “I believe that businesses are more successful when equality is built into the fabric of the company. At Salesforce, equality is a core value, and we are committed to cultivating and advancing female leaders throughout our company. It’s time for every CEO and every business leader to make equality for all a priority.”
“Fostering an environment where women can reach the senior-most levels of executive leadership is not only imperative to gender parity, it’s critical to our own economic vitality—to ensuring that American companies remain competitive in the global marketplace,” said Frederic Cumenal, chief executive officer of Tiffany & Co.
“Our research shows that change begins with intentional and inclusive leadership from the top that positions women to gain the experience they need to become a CEO. In order to develop a pipeline of potential women CEOs, we must both close the gender gap at the executive leadership level and support women early in their careers with sponsors, access to profit-and-loss roles and the opportunity to serve as an outside director on a corporate board,” said Deborah Gillis, president & CEO of Catalyst. “We applaud The Rockefeller Foundation for launching 100×25, which is an ambitious campaign series that will hopefully make a profound impact and help to accelerate progress for gender equality.”
“Having female role models and mentors in the C-Suite is critical for inspiring and encouraging the next generation of young women leaders,” said Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of the New York Tri-State Region of CBRE. “I’m proud to support the 100×25 campaign, and The Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to work towards ensuring gender parity within our nation’s largest employers.”
The campaign will shine a spotlight on companies that are doing innovative things to support the advancement of women (from mentorship programs to commitments around pay equity), ignite a conversation on why the private sector—particularly the Fortune 500—has been the hardest glass ceiling to crack, and engage in a public dialogue with influencers from board members to hiring managers and current CEOs.
What if there were 100 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies by 2025?
If the gender gap in leadership positions is closed, Americans believe there will be a significant shift toward more inclusive workplaces and more young women will dream of and strive to achieve success in business.
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 (76 percent), changing workplace policies in ways that benefit both men and women (74 percent), and attracting a more diverse workforce (71 percent). 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.
Business leaders and companies interested in getting involved can learn more about the 100×25 campaign by visiting rockefellerfoundation.org/100×25 or by joining the conversation #100×25.
The Rockefeller Foundation works with communities around the world to build greater resilience and advance more inclusive economies. The 100×25 campaign is part of the Foundation’s inclusive economies portfolio, which is made up of initiatives that aim to create more opportunities for more people regardless of their age, gender, or economic background.