Women struggling to reach senior executive roles in top US firms 0

US female executiveProgress for women in reaching the executive ranks within the UK’s FTSE 100 is too slow and the picture is less than inspiring on the other side of the Atlantic. A new analysis by Korn Ferry of the top 1,000 US companies by revenue finds the percentage of women in most executive positions is dramatically lower than their male counterparts. Across the most prominent executive job titles and several industries (consumer, energy, financial, life sciences, industrial, technology) an average of less than one quarter (24 percent) of the top leaders are women. The most senior post is held by the smallest percentage of women, with only 5 percent serving as CEO; 12 percent of CFO’s (Chief Financial Officer) are women; and 19 percent of women holding the CIO (Chief Information Officer) role across all industries. The CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer) role is the only one where there is gender parity, with 55 percent of CHROs across industries being women.

“In our research, we find that women rank higher on key competencies needed in the CHRO role such as collaboration and negotiation skills, the ability to balance multiple constituencies and an appreciation for the dynamics of the overall business,” said Joseph McCabe, Vice Chairman in Korn Ferry’s Global Human Resources Center of Expertise.

“Interestingly other Korn Ferry research shows a distinct correlation between CEO and CHRO competencies, but women are still not making it to the very top spot at the rate they should.”

“Study after study shows that diverse senior teams provide better corporate results,” added Korn Ferry Managing Principal Peggy Hazard. “Having more women at the top is a priority for our clients. However, the needle is not moving as quickly as any of us would like to see.”

“While the percentage of female CFOs is still small and more progress is needed, fortunately, interest in promoting and recruiting women into the role of CFO continues to rise,” said Bryan Proctor, Korn Ferry Global Financial Officer Practice Leader.

“A common barrier of female advancement to the top spot continues to be a lack of critical opportunities to demonstrate leadership, such as international assignments and operational roles. While the organization is responsible for offering these career-advancing assignments and opportunities to high-potential females, we have found that qualified women who proactively seek out these roles and experiences are increasingly being recognized and rewarded.

“Having gender equality in the CIO role is already top of mind for CEOs and Boards. We expect this focus to continue for years to come as the CIO creates greater strategic impact across organizations,” said Craig Stephenson, Korn Ferry Managing Director, North America CIO Practice.

When considering the percentage of C-Suite women by industry, the financial sector comes in the highest, at 28 percent, followed by technology (25 percent), energy (24 percent) consumer and life sciences (tied at 23 percent) and industrial (22 percent).

“In every industry we analyzed, there’s a tremendous need for improvement to bring more women to the C-Suite,” said Hazard. “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.”