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Women in the C-Suite

Women are still underrepresented in C-suite positions. Although 40% of MBA graduates are women, and 40% of managers are women, a CNN study shows that only 5% of the S&P 500 C-suite are women, and less than 20% of all U.S. corporations have a woman in the C-suite. S&P 500 companies with female CEOs include retail companies Avon and Ross, IT companies IBM and Hewlett Packard, and tech companies Oracle and Yahoo! 16.5% of top executives in the S&P 500 are female, and six companies had three female top executives at the time of the study: Coach, International Paper, Martin Marietta Materials, PSE&G, Home Depot, and Varian Medical Systems. Although these numbers seem more encouraging than the C-suite statistics, it is believed to represent a rather small pipeline for future female C-suite selection. Companies With Females in C-Suite Are More Profitable Bloomberg reports that a 2016 report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY found that companies where women filled at least 30% of the leadership roles were about 15% more profitable than companies with fewer women leaders. The report considered 13,000 profitable companies in 91 countries. When unprofitable companies were included in the mix, those with 30% or more female leadership had increases in profit margin up to six times higher than the profitable companies only. Study director, Marcus Noland, noted that as women in leading roles increased, profit margins increased as well. "We haven't found the point of diminishing returns yet because we just don't have any firms where there are lots of women," he told Bloomberg News. African American women need support in their quest for the C-suite.

Conditions Favorable to Women in C-Suite Positions Many companies want to encourage qualified women to fill C-suite positions without using quotas, which are generally considered counterproductive. Corporations with more female top executives and C-suite members had several things in common: The companies were bigger, they were in countries where women do well on math assessments compared to their male counterparts, and they were in areas that mandated paternity leave.The study said,"It stands to reason that policies that allow for child care need to be met, but do not place the burden of this care explicitly on the woman, can allow women to have a greater chance of building business acumen and professional contacts necessary to advance to a level at which they would be invited to be a part of a corporate board"

Women currently make up 47% of people employed in the U.S. and 51% of those employed in management and professional jobs. On average, in the U.S., women make 78 cents for each dollar their male counterpart makes.This number continues to increase as more women enter the workforce and child care duties become more evenly distributed. Although women of color in the S&P 500 C-suite are currently rare, they do exist in corporate America in small numbers, heading ad agencies and other corporations across the country. The Ron Brown Commerce Summit Women's Symposium seeks to provide leadership guidance and support to women seeking executive leadership roles in their companies. To register or get more information click here.

Tara Lynn Gray

Chamber Foundation Board of Directors

President & CEO YADARI Enterprises

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