Korn Ferry Analysis of Largest U.S. Companies Shows Percentage of Women in C-Suite Roles Inches Up from Previous Year

– Data Reveals One in Four C-suite Positions are Held by Women –

(NYSE:KFY) analysis of the top 1,000 U.S. companies by revenue
finds the percentage of women in key C-suite positions has risen
slightly in the last year, but is still dramatically lower than that of
their male counterparts. The study, conducted in early 2019, examines
the percentage of women by title and by industry.

The analysis found that across the most prominent C-suite titles (CEO,
CFO, CIO/CTO, CMO, CHRO) and several industries (consumer, energy,
financial, healthcare, industrial, retail, technology and services) an
average of one quarter (25 percent) of the top leaders are women. That
is up slightly from a year ago, when 23 percent of leaders in the
studied C-suite positions were women. While there were increases in the
percentage of women in CFO, CIO/CTO and CMO roles, the percentage of
women in the CEO and CHRO roles remained constant.

CEO (Chief Executive Officer)

The study found that across all C-suite positions, the most senior post
is held by the smallest percentage of women, with only 6 percent serving
as CEO. This percentage is the same as last year.

The highest percentage of female CEOs is in the retail industry (12
percent), followed by the consumer industry (8 percent). The industry
with the lowest percentage of women CEOs is healthcare at 1 percent.
(This excludes some healthcare providers and hospital systems, which are
often non-profit organizations that may not publicly disclose financial

“In a recent Korn Ferry study, we interviewed dozens of current and
former female CEOs, and the majority of them said they hadn’t even
considered vying for the top spot until they had a sponsor tell them
they were well-suited for the role,” said Jane
, Global Leader of Korn Ferry’s CEO Succession Services.
“It’s critical that both talented women and those around them focus on
creating a clear path for advancement.”

CFO (Chief Financial Officer)

Twelve percent of CFOs across industries are women, which is up from 11
percent last year. The industry with the most female CFOs is retail at
19 percent, followed by consumer at 14 percent. Those industries tied
for having the fewest female CFOs are financial and healthcare at 8

“While the percentage of women CFOs is growing only slightly, we see
some progress is being made,” said Bryan
, Korn Ferry Global Financial Officer Practice Leader.
“Increasingly companies consider diversity an absolute requirement
when considering CFO succession options.”

CIO/CTO (Chief Information Officer/Chief Technology Officer)

The percentage of women who hold the CIO/CTO role rose from 16 percent
last year to 18 percent this year. The industry with the highest
percentage of women CIOs/CTOs is financial at 25 percent, and the lowest
is in services at 7 percent.

“We are seeing a greater percentage of impressive and capable women who
are choosing to grow their careers in the technology field,” said Craig
, Korn Ferry Managing Director, North America CIO/CTO
Practice. “Our research indicates women CIOs/CTOs rank just as
competitively as their male counterparts on key competencies, and we
believe it is important to establish explicit and unbiased methodologies
in how technology leaders are assessed by both competency and

CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)

The CMO role saw the biggest percentage increase of all C-suite roles,
rising to 36 percent from last year’s 32 percent. The financial industry
has the highest percentage of female CMOs at 53 percent (up from 45
percent last year) and energy has the lowest at 20 percent.

“To be successful leading the ongoing, customer driven transformation
that is now part of most CMO’s mandate, marketing leaders need to excel
at many leadership capabilities that female leaders often possess. These
include inspiring across organizational silos, building and engaging
teams and holding them accountable, and putting the customer at the
center,” said Caren
, Managing Director, Global Marketing Officers Practice. “So it
stands to reason that the leadership capabilities that differentiate
female CMOs would position them well to be successful in this pivotal

CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer)

The CHRO role is the only C-suite role where there is gender parity,
with 55 percent of CHROs across industries being women, which is the
same as last year. The industry with the largest percentage of women
CHROs is financial (65 percent) and the industry with the lowest is
retail at 49 percent.

“In recent years the CHRO role has been increasingly tied to business
success as leaders understand that talent, when properly motivated and
deployed, can be a significant lever for differentiation,” said Dan
, Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner in the CHRO Practice.
“Woman CHROs bring several competencies to the table, including
collaboration, agility, empathy and an ability to coach and influence
that are critical to successfully optimizing the leadership of an

The Mix by Industry

When considering the percentage of C-suite women by industry, the
financial sector comes in the highest at 31 percent, followed by the
healthcare industry at 26 percent and retail at 25 percent. The consumer
sector has 24 percent of women in the C-suite and 23 percent of C-suite
members in the industrial, technology and energy industries are women.
The services industry comes in last at 21 percent.

“In every industry we analyzed, there’s a tremendous need for
improvement to bring more women to the C-suite,” said Stevenson. “This
is a joint responsibility of the women to seek out experiences and
development that can help them lead and succeed, and for organizations
to create an environment where women feel empowered to progress in their
careers at all levels.”

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We help clients
synchronize strategy and talent to drive superior performance. We work
with organizations to design their structures, roles, and
responsibilities. We help them hire the right people to bring their
strategy to life. And we advise them on how to reward, develop, and
motivate their people.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Infographic


Tracy Kurschner