Female CEOs Still In Very Short Supply At S&P 500 Companies

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Although the gap between men and women in executive-level positions has remained a focus for quite some time, that gap has not improved over the years. In fact, a new study indicates that the number of female CEOs at S&P 500 companies has declined slightly over the last year. And this disparity extends to the banking industry as well, where the number of women in the industry is still disproportionately low to the number of men and the pay gap that has long existed between the genders also continues.

Only 21 female CEOs in the S&P 500

S&P Capital IQ Director Pavle Sabic reports that on average, the number of female chief executives among S&P 500 companies only increased by one every two years between 2006 and 2015, rising from 16 in 2006. However, this year brought a slight decline as there were only 21 female CEOs in the index compared to 25 at the end of last year.

As of February, there were 23 female CEOs at the companies in the index. In 2006, 3.2% of the companies in the S&P 500 were led by women, while today the percentage is 4.2%. In a decade, the S&P 500’s male leadership has only declined by 1 percentage point to 96%.

S&P Capital notes that this year Avon, which is headed by Sheri McCoy, was removed from the S&P 500 this year because it has been underperforming the index over the past few years, resulting in the loss of one woman from the index. In November, DuPont appointed Ed Breen to replace Ellen Kullman as CEO. Here’s a look at the current list of female CEOs among S&P 500 companies, as of Nov. 23:

Female CEOs

IT has the most female CEOs

Interestingly, S&P Capital IQ found that the Information Technology sector – which is dominated by male employees in general – has the most female CEOs. However, as Sabic also notes, the IT is also driving innovation in business, which may be one of the reasons it is leading in female CEOs. In second and third places, respectively, are Consumer Discretionary and Consumer Staples.

The Energy, Materials, and Telecommunications sectors don’t have any women at the helm of any of their companies.

Female CEOs

Female CEOs have shorter tenures

Another disparity is the term of service at the CEO post, as men spend two years longer, on average, than women spend in it. Women spend an average of four years as CEO, while men average six years, tracking data to 1999. Sabic notes that four to six years certainly isn’t very long when looking at the length of the average career, but he believes this disparity “may translate to a significant economic opportunity cost to women.”

Pay gap between women and men remains significant in banking

In a companion report with SNL Financial entitled “The $10 billion glass ceiling,” S&P Capital IQ also looked at the banking industry and found a significant gender gap there as well. This gap has also likely contributed to the pay gaps that have existed between men and women in the industry as well. According to SNL, the median total compensation for top female banking executives increased at a much slower pace compared to that of men in the industry. Red represents females in the following graph:

Female CEOs

Male banking CEOs saw their median total compensation climb by more than 60% cumulatively between 2007 and 2014. In contrast, female banking CEOs saw their compensation climb by only 33%. SNL Financial noted a similar pay gap among women in other top banking executive positions. Red represents females in the following graph:

Female CEOsFemale CEOs

Women CEOs rare in banking

The firm reports that over the last five years, women have consistently held less than 4% of the CEO positions in the banking industry. Last year there were 21 female CEOs and 568 male CEOs in the banking sample reviewed by SNL. The firm reports that the numbers “are similarly stagnant” for other positions in the C-suite as well. There were 22 female chief operating officers and 96 female chief financial officers at these banks. ZRG Partners (an executive search firm) CEO Larry Hartmann told SNL Financial that women find it especially difficult to climb from middle management into the C-suite.

Female CEOs

Georgia Derrico, a veteran bank executive who has started two banks, urges women not to sell themselves short and to seek positions in the banking industry despite the gender-specific challenges facing women. In the early years of her career, she discovered that she was making $2,000 less than the man she was working with even though she had a Masters’ degree and he didn’t. Her boss told her that she had sold herself “cheap” when she first took her job at the bank.

Images in this article are courtesy S&P Capital IQ or SNL Financial.

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