THE FORTUNE 50 LIST SHOWS FEMALE EXECUTIVES ARE GAINING GROUND
What if I told you 26 women in 2017 are the CEOs of major American corporations controlling more than $1 trillion in market cap? What would you think?
Once a year, I’m enthralled by the release of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women list. It’s a beautiful tribute to the women pushing innovation in America’s halls of corporate power. Each year, Fortune rates the nation’s most powerful women by the company’s revenues and market value. This year, for the third straight year, No. 1 was Mary Barra, the strong and influential leader of General Motors, which made a 9% gain in revenue in 2016.
At FPG, we proudly teach that everyone is “enough,” meaning every person, regardless of ethnicity or gender, has the power within them to change the world. And that includes empowering women, which is why I’m so drawn to Fortune’s list. Each of these women is a beautiful embodiment of what it means to live like you’re enough.
I’m personally inspired by each and every one of these women, 26 of whom made Fortune’s top 50 as corporate CEOs. Take a look down the list and you’ll see why. Indra Nooyi has transformed PepsiCo in her decade at the helm. Marillyn Hewson is taking Lockheed Martin to new heights since taking over in 2013. Susan Wojcicki’s YouTube is pushing innovation at every step of the way. Each are leading their companies into the murky waters of the 21st century with balletic grace.
The women who aren’t CEOs on the list are just as inspiring. Can you even believe how much success Cheryl Sandberg has had at Facebook? The COO of Facebook has helped guide the company to incredible new revenue plateaus. And how about Angela Ahrendts, the groundbreaking SVP for Apple? I’d put their accomplishments up against anyone in the country.
These are all good things. It wasn’t so long ago that you wouldn’t have found any CEOs on a female-only list like this, let alone 26.
In the last five years, women CEOs have mostly been static on Fortune’s list, falling as low as 22 and as high as 27 for an average of 25 per year. That’s half the list, which isn’t bad. But there’s always room for improvement, and my experience at FPG has fed my belief that women can and should have more of a role in the C-Suite in the coming years and decades.
In the most recently updated Fortune 500 list, just 6% of companies have female CEOs. The percentage of female CEOs in all companies nationwide is higher at 27%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Women make up almost half of the workforce and, in a field close to my heart, are 46 percent of the marketing and sales management pool nationwide.
There’s progress being made. In 2013, females were CEOs at 4% of Fortune 500 companies, and in 1998 there was just one in 500. This progress is personally fulfilling to me because we model the changing tide at FPG. Our company is split 50/50 between men and women, and our executive suite is the same. As time progresses and women fill more and more executive roles, I hope more women are afforded the chances I’ve had to grow, succeed and thrive at FPG.
At FPG headquarters, we have seven posters with seven superheroes hanging in our hall. Each embodies one of the seven FPG Virtues: perseverance, fortitude, purpose, curiosity, charisma, gratitude, and power.
Two of these are represented by female superheroes: purpose (Wonder Woman) and power (She-Ra). What a great message for our female workforce and the women working their way to the top with their eye on a corner office one day. Living with purpose means knowing where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and why it’s important to you. And power means to unleash your gifts and truly believe that what makes you different makes you strong.
At the CEO level, what makes you different is what makes you a woman. And that makes you strong. FPG redefines training by going a step further than the rest by starting with your beliefs. Many women have simply been programmed to think they aren’t powerful or purposeful enough to become CEOs. That’s the sort of programming we work to change, because beliefs drive emotions, which drive behaviors, which drive results.
If we change our beliefs as women to embody those powerful, courageous women on the Fortune 50 list, then there is no ceiling that can ever hold us down.
Mary Marshall is the VP of Sales & Marketing at FPG and delivers sold-out seminars and coaching sessions all over the country. She’s an integral part of FPG’s mission to deliver cutting-edge training programs to companies that drive profit through people and emphasizes that everyone is “enough.”