Women still make up only a fraction of CEOs, and a new report finds they don’t expect much support at work or home.
It’s lonely for women at the top.
Job search and recruitment site Glassdoor released its annual list of 100 highest rated CEOs on Wednesday, and only eight of them are female.
The best bosses at companies with 1,000 or more employees were ranked on an approval rating scale of zero to 100%, using the feedback provided on 40 million reviews and insights from employees at more than 770,000 companies listed on Glassdoor.com. And while this year’s roster did break new ground by featuring a person of color in the top spot for the first time — Zoom Video Communications’ head Eric S. Yuan was ranked No. 1 with a 99% CEO approval rating — women were in short supply.
“Unfortunately, there is still an imbalance between men and women represented in the C-suite – not only among the top CEOs on our list, but for CEOs in general around the country,” Sarah Stoddard, Glassdoor’s community expert, told Moneyish. “Women currently hold about 5% of the S&P 500 CEO positions, and the 8% on our list is on par for what you can expect around the country.”
In fact, the number of women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies dropped 25% from 2017 to 2018, down to 24 from its previous high of 32, as Fortune recently reported. “As long as we have these fortuitous (women-CEO) appointments instead of a real gender pipeline being built as a regular course of business, the numbers are going to be volatile,” Jane Stevenson of the executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International, told the Wall Street Journal when the Fortune roundup hit.
Those who made the Glassdoor list include Lynsi Snyder from In-N-Out Burger, who was ranked No. 4. She inherited control of the company last year at 35, and became the youngest female billionaire in the world in the process. Her employees credited her for the above-market pay and benefits, plus the growth opportunities available at the company under her watch.
Colleen Wegman from Wegmans Food Markets also cracked the top 10, coming in at No. 9 for well-reviewed company culture. She also took over her family business last year, at age 45. The other highest-rated women CEOs on the list include: Sheryl Palmer at the Taylor Morrison homebuilder and developer corporation; Lynne Doughtie at audit and tax services firm KPMG; Pamela Nicholson at car rental giant Enterprise Holdings; Tricia Griffith at Progressive Insurance; Cathy Engelbert at “Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte; and Mary Barra at General Motors. What they and the other top-ranking CEOs had in common was a satisfied workforce reporting a favorable company culture (including great pay and benefits packages, opportunities for advancement and a high opinion of their CEO’s leadership) which Glassdoor has found drives the highest CEO approval ratings.
There were also eight women on Glassdoor’s highest rated CEOs list last year. “It’s somewhat encouraging to see that year-over-year, the 8% hasn’t changed,” said Stoddard. “We would all be disappointed to see that number decrease as we are seeing nationally.”
This comes on the heels of a recent Harvard Business Review study of the leadership journey of 12 female CEOs (out of a larger study of 151 CEOs, of which 139 were men.) The dozen women that the researchers interviewed said that they expected little outside support, either at home or at work. And because they didn’t have as much sponsorship at work as their male peers, the onus was on them to develop their own networks and seek out their own mentors.
The HBR study suggested that seeing the number of female role models in senior positions steadily increase will inspire young women just starting out on their careers to act on their leadership potential. It also called on companies to offer resources to help entry level female employees build their networks and plan for longer careers — and with penalty-free career breaks, such as if they take leave to have children. Recent studies have shown that motherhood is the biggest cause of the wage gap; a Danish report found women who had children saw their pay drop 30% in the short-term, and 20% in the long run.
And on Thursday, the International Women’s Forum is holding a roundtable discussion (which will be livestreamed on Facebook from 2 to 4 p.m. EST) with glass ceiling smashers like Barbara Franklin, the leader of the White House’s first efforts to recruit women for high-level government jobs, and Cari M. Dominguez, the former chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will discuss what has and hasn’t changed in workplace equality, including the challenges still facing public and private sectors, ways men can help the movement, and more.
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