Annually, Fortune publishes its Global 500, a list of 500 of the largest companies in the world. The combined sales of these companies is said to amount to $31.7 trillion, or one-third of global GDP. And 2021 saw the number of women running companies that made the list soar by nine.
These nine new entries tally to an impressive 23 companies on the Global 500 that have women at the helm. If that’s not all, the diversity of female CEOs this year has increased, with six women of colour serving as CEO; in 2020, just one woman of colour made the list. And these numbers represent an all-time high, considering Fortune only began tracking the number of female CEOs in 2014. Since then, the statistic has fluctuated between a mere 12 and 17. However, while 23 female CEOs equates to just 4.6 per cent of the total, it’s seen as a significant rise compared to previous years.
It’s important to note that making the cut is influenced by several factors that include leadership changes at an executive level, the company’s growth trajectory, or if a company shrinks and falls off the scale. Last year, women were at the helm of just 14 Global 500 businesses. This year, the number grew as a result of to a few leadership changes. Reports also show that there were more leadership changes at stateside companies in America; those changes are doing the same for the Global 500 companies.
Among the list, the woman making waves are Karen Lynch who took over as CEO of CVS Health, Roz Brewer, the former Starbucks and Walmart executive, took over as CEO of CVS competitor Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Jane Fraser became CEO of Citigroup, making her the first woman to head a major Wall Street bank.