Women still underrepresented in Fortune 500 leadership roles

Over the last year, there’ve been a lot of firsts in the Fortune 500: the first openly lesbian CEO, the first Latina CEO, and the first Black woman CEO of an NBA franchise. But there have been a lot of good-byes, too, as Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup Company, Margo Georgiadis of Mattel, and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez have all left the top spot at their respective companies and have been replaced by men. In fact, according to data compiled by Catalyst, since 2009, only three female CEOs were followed by another woman.

There are now only 22 women CEOs in the Fortune 500 index. Not one is black.

It starts from the very first leadership level, according to the 2017 Women in the Workplace study from McKinsey and Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.org: “Women hired in as individual contributors are 18 percent less likely to be promoted into management than their male peers,” and it’s all downhill from there, especially for women of color, the survey shows. Part of the issue is that the pipeline for women to leadership positions is little more than a trickle.

In an interview with The New York Times DealBook column after her resignation, Pepsi’s Nooyi acknowledged the women’s leadership pipeline issue, saying, “I would have loved for the board to have had a woman to pick from. But at the end of the day, the board selects the CEO, and we just didn’t have any women who were ready for the job.”

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