Why does Corporate America have so few female CEOs?

Why does Corporate America have so few female CEOs?

By Geoff De Weaver, CEO & Founder Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. http://geoffdeweaver.com/


This should not be a question I need to ask in the US in 2016 but, the more you look into the research, reports, data and statistic’s – it’s clearly unacceptable, objectionable, unsatisfactory and repugnant. Having lived and worked globally and in multiple continents – this is a global issue that needs a global solution quick!

Let me firstly lead this discussion and article with some startling statistics that clearly show most of the major Fortune 500 companies, Tech Leaders, Start ups and stakeholders are all sadly missing the mark, losing immense competitive advantage, missing with ‘inclusive’ leadership, not making employees feel valued for the unique talents and perspectives and not maximizing shareholder return.

Now, that’s pretty dismal for any business globally today. BUT, the US has the unique opportunity to ‘raise the bar’, be the global benchmark and treat women as EQUALS.

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Chart above: Female Founders Outperform Their Male Peers source: First Round Capital

Here’s a global list of women membership on Boards, ranked from highest to lowest share of board members who are women:

  • Norway 35.5%
  • Finland 29.9%
  • France 29.7%
  • Sweden 28.8%
  • Belgium 23.4%
  • UK 22.8%
  • Denmark 21.9%
  • Netherlands 21%
  • Canada 20.8%
  • USA 19.2%
  • Australia 19.2%
  • Germany 18.5%
  • Spain 18.2%
  • Switzerland 17%
  • Austria 13%
  • Ireland 10.3%
  • Hong Kong 10.2%
  • India 9.5%
  • Portugal 7.9%
  • Japan 3.1%


Increasingly in recent years, there has been growing concern that gender bias has prevented women from advancing as rapidly and as frequently as men into management and Board positions.

Although the number of women managers has increased, they appear to experience difficulty moving into upper management positions and Boards. I strongly believe Boards, Investors and stakeholders must collectively work together and follow leaders like Marc Benioff’s decision to eliminate the gender pay gap and take advantage of the super collaborative, inspiring, engaged and impactful women available in the workplace today.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.36.28 PM

Above: International Business Machine Corp.’s (IBM) first female Chief Executive Officer, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty. Rometty joined IBM at age 24 as a systems engineer in 1981 and became the company’s first female CEO in 2012.

Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram talks to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, number three on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s about some of the changes she’s made at IBM.

Watch this video on Ginni Rometty:  http://for.tn/1u21nza

Scarce as hen’s teeth?

Why are world-class leaders like: Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, Mary Barra CEO of General Motors, Indra Noovi CEO and Chairman, PepsiCo, Marillyn Hewson CEO, Chairman, and President, Lockheed Martin, Ellen Kullman CEO and Chairman, DuPont, Marissa Mayer CEO of Yahoo! and Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook are just of the few female CEOs. It appears that the pipeline of future women leaders is frighteningly thin!

Importantly, with over one trillion dollars in stock market value, why are approximately 21 female CEOs today controlling Boards and Companies today? What’s wrong with this picture?

Additionally, in a recent CNN Money poll they made a startling discovery about the next four executive positions — chief financial officers, chief operating officers and other key roles at major companies. Women hold only 16.5% of these four positions just below CEO in the S&P 500.Surely there are more well qualified women available to draw from than this small pool!

In a recent LinkedIn Pulse post, Sallie Krawcheck, summarized women empowerment perfectly. Sallie stated:

2016 will be the year in which the forces of entrepreneurialism and feminism converge. Together, they will drive a long-wave, golden age of female entrepreneurship, which will be a positive for all of us: positive and empowering for the women who make the leap, good for the economy, good for consumers, and good for society.”

AND, then wrote:

‘Look around, and you’re beginning to see a critical mass of inspirational, successful female entrepreneurs, leading the way and providing examples. They’ve founded and run businesses such as 23andMe, Rent the Runway, TheRealReal, Birchbox, Spanx, Stitch Fix, Dry Bar, BaubleBar, Tory Burch, The Honest Company, Houzz, Lynda.com. And the list gets longer every day. No playing by the boys-club rules for these entrepreneurs. No asking permission. And they are forever banishing the concept that women’s businesses are supposed to be little or cute or limited to small-scale, home crafts. Or make-up. And their success is resonating, such that when I’m on business school and college campuses, entrepreneurialism is discussed at every meeting I have with female students.’

Here is a current list of impressive women executives complied by Catalyst as at December 2015:

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 5.06.38 PM

Chart via Catalyst. Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies. New York: Catalyst, December 14, 2015.

Leading seed-stage venture firm, First Round Capital  recently stated that, one of the key points their hugely success investment company has learned over the past 10 years and over 300 investments and nearly 600 founders, is this ‘gem’ they shared e.g. Women ARE Winning.

In fact, companies with a female founder performed 63% better than our investments with all-male founding teams.

Lets look at some of the stats:

  • Women represent 6 % of the general labor force, they represent only 8.1 % of the top earners in the Fortune 500 and a mere 3.8 % of the CEO’s of these institutions
  • Women-led companies are more diversity focused. In fact, 44% of women-led companies have a 50/50 gender ratio, while only 25% of men-led companies do.
  • According to a recent analysis by Catalyst, companies with a high representation of women board members significantly outperformed those with no female directors with financial resultsat Fortune 500 companies.
  • Though the percentage of women filling S&P 500 board seats significantly lags the 30% goals popularly espoused by many advocacy groups, there has been significant progress shown in the past five years.
  • More investors today are calling for companies to assess and evaluate their boards with an eye toward diversifying not only gender and ethnicity but also range of skills, and companies are required to take a more critical look at their board composition as a means of shareholder engagement.
  • Companies with the most women board directors (WBD) outperform those with the least on ROS by 16 percent.
  • Companies with the most WBD outperform those with the least on ROIC by 26 percent.
  • Companies with sustained high representation of WBD, defined as those with three or more WBD in at least four of five years, significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84 percent on ROS, by 60 percent on ROIC, and by 46 percent on ROE.
  • Companies with a female founder performed 63% better than investments with all-male founding teams according to First Round. source: http://10years.firstround.com/#.VotrBYijaR4.twitter

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 4.33.59 PM

Note: Above is a Tweet from Lean In e.g.  is the nonprofit founded by Sheryl Sandberg to empower all women to achieve their ambitions. #leanin

Bottom-line: having leaders with diverse experiences and backgrounds often translates to financial success. Whether it’s grades at school, university or ongoing – Female Founders Outperform Their Male Peers and deserve to continue to keep smashing the ‘glass ceiling’ in the corporate business market.

Additionally, I will be writing further on this topic shortly and will write more on initiatives that promote women’s leadership, gender equality and increasing shareholder value in 2016 and beyond.

Stay passionate – and make sure in 2016 you value the immense commercial value, collaboration and intelligence women can bring to the table.



More About Geoff De Weaver:

Geoff De Weaver Oct 2015

Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced entrepreneur, technology disruptor, trend hunter, transformation expert and keynote speaker behind Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. Geoff is an international business executive with 25+ years experience on five continents in the rapidly-changing media, digital, telecommunications, communications and entertainment industries.

Geoff has a global 25-year background of representing some of the world’s most iconic worldwide brands including: Coca Cola, IBM, IMG, P&G, Microsoft, Nike, British Airways, Wells Fargo, EA Sports, MasterCard, Shutterfly.com, EA.com, E*Trade, Nestle, Air France, AT&T, VISA, Unilever, EA.com, Ferrari, American Express, P&G, Trend Micro, Acer Computers, BMW, Shutterfly.com, Mars, Pfizer, TiVo, EarthLink Internet, American Express, Telstra, Weight Watchers, Douglas Elliman New York and others.

As CEO + Founder of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc., the ‘next-generation’ Social Media Marketing, Big Data and Live Event Company – streams live to over 1.55 Billion fans globally and delivers authentic brand experiences worldwide.  I help brands bridge the gap between CONTENT, COMMUNITY + COMMERCE and delivers authentic brand experiences worldwide. Geoff also has comfort in operating in truly globalized markets.

C-Level, Marketing Strategy, Digital and Communications Leader with Global Experience – including: US (New York City + San Francisco), Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Columbia, Finland, Hong Kong, Mexico, Netherlands, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, China, Indonesia and Canada. Geoff has served as a non-executive director, director and advisory boards.

  • Geoff has served as a non-executive director, director and advisory boards
  • Top 0.5% Worldwide on Twitter Globally
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  • Top 1% Most Viewed Profiles on LinkedIn (400+ million members)
  • Geoff is a Digital Pioneer, Data-Driven, Entrepreneur, Business Coach + Innovator.
  • Transformation, Innovation & Digital Disruption – CONTENT, COMMUNITY + COMMERCE

Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:

You might enjoy these recent posts too:

Does Disruption Resonate with your Board? https://geoffdeweaver.com/does-disruption-resonate-with-your-board/ 


The Ten Commandments of the Digital Age https://geoffdeweaver.com/the-10-commandments-in-the-digital-age/




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