Only One Woman Was Named CEO Of A Major American Company Last Year

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Turnover was pretty high for the top jobs at North America’s largest companies last year, rising to 14.3 percent, the highest in three years.

But even with all that new hiring for the job of CEO, women still couldn’t get their foot in the door. Of the 87 new CEOs hired at the biggest companies, just one was a woman, according to a report from PwC’s Strategy&. That woman was Andrea Greenberg, picked to lead MSG Networks, the new name for Madison Square Garden’s businesses.

Women’s chances of getting one of these top jobs at large American companies is declining — while Greenberg represented 1 percent of all incoming CEOs, women made up 4 percent in 2014 and more than 7 percent in 2012. In fact, 2015 was the worst year for women getting hired as CEO since PwC began tracking figures in 2004.

The trend was similar across the globe: out of 359 new CEOs picked last year, just 10 were women. That means they made up just 2.8 percent of all those hired for the top job, a rate that represented a big decline from the year before and was the lowest since 2011.

Generally, North American companies have done the best at hiring women as their CEOs. Women made up 4 percent of all incoming chief executives for those companies over the last 12 years, the most of any global region.

But there’s lots of room to get the numbers up. Of the 500 large American corporations in the S&P; Index, just 20, or 4 percent, are run by women. Given that MSG Networks doesn’t even rank among those companies, the list didn’t change at all in 2015. Equality is even lower for women of color: in 2015, they made up just 0.4 percent of those CEOs. There are so few women running large American companies that there are more men named John in CEO roles than all the women put together.

Part of the problem is that companies aren’t promoting women to the high-up positions that tend to put employees in line to become CEO. Only about a quarter of senior executives and managers at S&P; 500 companies are women. And even among those women, the majority are stuck in departments like human resources, legal, and finance that don’t usually lead to CEO. Strategy&’s report finds that when women are picked to lead big companies, they’re more likely than men to come from the outside rather than be promoted internally.

Nabbing the role of CEO also doesn’t end gender inequality. Median pay for the highest-paid female CEOs is $1.6 million less than median pay for the best-paid men.