Within the newest Fortune 500 listing, revealed Thursday, you’ll discover a new file: As of June 1, 33 of the businesses on the rating of highest-grossing companies will probably be led by feminine CEOs for the primary time ever.
To make sure, that sum represents a disproportionately small share of the group as a complete; simply 6.6%. But it surely additionally marks a substantial soar from final 12 months’s whole of 24, or 4.8%.
The uptick in feminine CEOs this 12 months is essentially the results of ladies being named chief government within the final 12 months, akin to Finest Purchase’s Corie Barry, Northrop Grumman’s Kathy Warden, and Land O’Lakes’ Beth Ford. In truth, the 33rd CEO to make the listing did so simply this week, when dwelling items retailer Mattress Bathtub & Past tapped Mary Winston as its interim CEO amid stress from a trio of activist buyers.
Two of the brand new additions—Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber and Superior Micro Gadgets CEO Lisa Su—have held their jobs for years, since 2010 and 2014, respectively. They’re becoming a member of the membership now as a result of their corporations have surpassed the Fortune 500’s income cut-off of $5.575 billion.
The relative barrage of latest feminine CEOs runs counter to final 12 months’s narrative, when the departure of high-profile chief executives—Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Meg Whitman, Mondelez’s Irene Rosenfeld, Campbell Soup’s Denise Morrison—pushed the rely all the way down to 24.
The variety of feminine CEOs within the Fortune 500 is, after all, weak to the whims of particular person corporations, however, as a complete, it can be seen as a barometer of girls’s standing within the enterprise world.
So what could be behind the online enhance of 9 in a single 12 months’s time? In a phrase: boards.
“We’re seeing ladies and minorities on boards ticking up, and boards have quite a bit to do with who turns into CEOs,” says Lorraine Hariton, CEO of Catalyst, a nonprofit consulting and analysis agency centered on ladies within the office. Fifteen years in the past, ladies accounted for 15.7% of board seats within the Fortune 500. Now, it’s 25.5%. The rise has come as institutional buyers—citing analysis on the enterprise advantages of numerous management—have pushed for brand new blood in boardrooms.
Christy Glass, a professor at Utah State College who focuses on gender inequality and race and ethnicity in work and management, says her analysis with co-author Alison Prepare dinner “has proven that when boards are well-integrated with ladies, ladies are more likely to be appointed CEOs.” The push for board variety, she says, “could also be paying off when it comes to ladies appointed as CEOs.”
What’s extra, her analysis has discovered that having a gender-diverse board additionally will increase the chance that girls CEOs have lengthier tenures; ladies CEOs within the Fortune 500 total have shorter stints than their male counterparts—42 months versus 60.
Whereas the brand new Fortune 500 listing marks a file for whole variety of feminine CEOs, it additionally continues a troubling pattern: that so few of these chief executives are non-white ladies. Final 12 months’s tally included PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, who’s Indian-American, and PG&E CEO Geisha Williams, who’s Latina. Each left their posts in latest months, as Nooyi retired, and Williams departed amid PG&E’s wildfire disaster. Mattress, Bathtub & Past’s Mary Winston is the primary black girl to function a Fortune 500 CEO since Xerox’s Ursula Burns stepped down two-and-a-half years in the past, though Winston is in an interim publish.
Down the road, this drawback could also be helped by the board variety push too, Glass says. “Our analysis means that when ladies lead corporations on the board rank and as CEOs, [there’s] extra consideration [paid] to equality insurance policies and practices. So one added bonus of the expansion of girls administrators is that CEOs place extra emphasis on recruiting, retaining, and advancing folks of colour.”
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