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US And Europe’s Biggest Companies Have More Female CEOs Than Ever Before

With greater emphasis being placed on gender diversity at global companies and vigorous petitioning taking place in the political sphere, it seems only natural that more women should assume the leadership Chief Executive Officer (CEO) positions. S&P Global Market Intelligence conducted a gender gap study from 2009 to 2016, which takes a look at these trends both historically and currently. Access the full CEO Gender Gap Analysis here.

The research, undertaken to draw attention to the importance of employee diversification in major corporations, shows that over the last eight years, the companies of the S&P Euro 350 have increased the number of female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) from six in 2009, to 14 in 2016, a growth rate of one new female CEO every year.

By comparison, the companies of the S&P 500 have fared slightly better in closing the gender gap than their European counterparts. The number of companies with female CEOs went from 18 in 2009, to 27 in 2016, a growth rate of 1.1 new female CEOs every year for the last eight years.

Other findings from the report give further nuance to the overall progress being made in the U.S. and Europe, and include:

  • Out of the two indices, it is the S&P 500’s Information Technology, Utilities and Consumer Discretionary sectors which have the most female CEOs;
  • However, four sectors in the S&P Euro 350 do not have any female CEO representation, compared to just two in the S&P 500;
  • 2016 female CEOs still lag behind male CEOs in terms of median tenure by two years in both indices, with longer tenures in general recorded in the S&P 500 Index.
  • This report is the third in the series of gender gap research papers from S&P Global Market Intelligence, with the last piece focusing on the S&P 500, published in March. Conversely to the previous report, S&P Global Market Intelligence is now seeing a slow and steady increase in the number of women running blue chip companies across multiple sectors.


Pavle Sabic, FRM, Director – Global Head of Market Development at S&P Global Market Intelligence
, commented on the results: “As greater emphasis is being placed on gender diversity at global companies and vigorous petitioning is taking place in the political sphere, it seems only natural that more females should assume the leadership position(s) of CEO.

“By focusing on S&P Euro 350 Companies, comparing them to S&P 500 companies, and analyzing the female/male ratios of CEOs, it is encouraging to see that progress is being made both in America and in Europe and that over the last eight years there has been a steady increase in the number of females at the helm of blue chip companies. Since our last report, we have seen positive signs in increasing gender diversification of companies, especially in America where the number of female CEOs in the S&P 500 is at its highest.”

Access the full CEO Gender Gap Analysis here.

For additional reading, check out these articles from Financial Times and Fortune Magazine that reference the S&P Global Market Intelligence report. 

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