The Number of Women Running Fortune 500 Companies Reaches a Record High
The share of woman-led Fortune 500 companies has hit a record high, with 44 female CEOs at the helm of some of the largest corporations in the U.S. But perhaps the biggest takeaway from this year’s list is just how uneventful the changes in women’s leadership are—a sign that female CEOs are finding stability and staying power atop Fortune 500 companies.
The Fortune 500, which ranks the 500 largest U.S. companies by revenue, is viewed as a microcosm of the overall U.S. business landscape. While the number of women CEOs who run businesses on the list can fluctuate throughout the year, it’s a useful snapshot of the corporate leadership zeitgeist. Female CEOs join the rarified group when they’re hired or promoted into the chief executive job, or if their company makes the Fortune 500 as a new entrant.
With 44 female chief executives spearheading America’s largest companies, women now run 8.8% of businesses on the 2022 list. That’s up from 8.2% last year, when women led 41 of the 500 companies, and six times their share two decades ago, when women led just seven Fortune 500 businesses. After dipping in 2018 to 24, the past four years have marked new record highs for female Fortune 500 chiefs. “We’ve made steady progress, but it’s nowhere near the speed we’d like it to be,” says Lorraine Hariton, president and CEO of the women’s leadership nonprofit Catalyst.