The days of businesses being solely run by men are over. In 2020, America saw a record-breaking number of women-led businesses on the Fortune 500 list, with 37 of the companies being led by a female Chief Executive Officer (CEO)! From this figure, you can certainly see that gender diversity within the country’s top companies has a way to go, especially when it comes to women of color in leadership positions. Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company, only stepped into her role as the CEO of Xerox in 2010. And we’ve only had a handful of women of color leading America’s largest companies in the years since.
While someone’s gender identity shouldn’t be the sole reason or even the main reason to make a hiring decision, celebrating women CEOs is worthwhile. It’s no secret that the business world is often thought of as a boy’s club, in which women primarily took the role of assistants and secretaries, nothing more. Allowing more women at the table can open up the opportunity for companies to grow, change perspectives, or even shift gears entirely. And, aside from that, don’t we want kids growing up today to see that women can be just as powerful as men?
The biggest companies with women CEOs
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. manufactures semiconductor devices that are used in computer processing. Some of the items that it produces include flash memories, graphics processors, and motherboard chipsets. The company was founded in 1969 in Silicon Valley and has grown into a global company that pioneers within its industry.
- 2020 Earnings: $9.76 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $94.47
Lisa Su, Ph. D. - President and CEO
Dr. Su joined AMD in 2012 as senior vice president and general manager, global business units. She worked her way up the ladder and in 2014, became the President and CEO of the company. She also services on the AMD Board of Directors.
Anthem is a health insurance provider. It serves more than 43 million people with its health plans, and together with its affiliated companies, services more than 107 million people in total.
- 2020 Earnings: $4.6 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $385.24
Gail Boudreaux - President and CEO
Gail has three decades of experience in the healthcare industry. She previously served as the CEO of UnitedHealthcare, where she led the largest business division of UnitedHealth Group.
Best Buy is a multinational consumer electronics retailer that is headquartered in America. After opening as an audio specialty store in 1966, Best Buy has now become one of the biggest consumer electronics retailers in the world.
- 2020 Earnings: $15.2 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $110.55
Corie Barry - CEO
Corie was promoted to the CEO role from the role of Chief Financial Officer of the company. She is the first woman chief executive at Best Buy and stepped into the role after the former CEO moved to a position elsewhere in the Best Buy C-Suite.
Citigroup Inc. is a global investment bank and financial services institution. It provides a broad range of financial services to both consumers and corporate customers. Some of its services include retail brokerage, corporate banking, investment banking, and cash management products and services.
- 2020 Earnings: $19.4 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $68.21
Jane Fraser - CEO
Jane is the first female CEO in Citigroup’s history. She’s been at Citi since 2004 and worked her way up the ranks before becoming the CEO of Citi in February 2021. With her experience and dedication to the company, Jane has played a large role in shaping the company into what it is today.
CVS Health describes itself as a health care innovation company. You probably know it from the many pharmacy locations throughout the United States.
- 2020 Earnings: $268.7 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $81.18
Karen Lynch - President and CEO
Karen has over three decades of experience in the health care industry, including experience within health insurance companies. Her previous positions include President of Aetna and Executive Vice President of CVS Health.
General Motors is one of the world’s largest motor vehicle manufacturers. Its brands include Buice, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC.
- 2020 Earnings: $122 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $57.46
Mary Barra - CEO
Mary is the first female CEO of General Motors, showing major progress for the U.S. automobile industry as a whole. She took over the position in 2014 and helped continue to turn the company around after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. She is currently the driving force behind General Motors transitioning to electric vehicles by 2035.
Formally known as The Hershey Company, Hershey is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. The company is well known for its many candies and snacks, including Hershey’s, Reese’s, Jolly Rancher, and SkinnyPop.
- 2020 Earnings: $8.14 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $175.10
Michele Buck - President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board
Michele brought her more than 25 years of consumer packaged goods experience to her role at Hershey. Before joining Hershey, she worked at the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo and in numerous senior positions at Kraft/Nabisco. Before taking on her current role at Hersey, she held several senior leadership roles, including as Chief Operating Officer of Hershey.
Occidental Petroleum is an international oil and gas exploration and production company. The company operates through three segments - Oil and Gas, Chemical (OxyChem), and Midstream and Marketing. It currently has a target to reach net-zero emissions associated with its operations before 2040.
- 2020 Earnings: $17.8 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $30.51
Vicki Hollub - President and CEO
Vicki has been with Occidental for more than three decades and has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2015. In April 2016, Vicki became the President and CEO of the company. Additionally, she is the chair of the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and a member of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative.
Founded in 1937, Progressive is an American insurance company. It offers several types of insurance products, but its most common is its auto and home insurance policies.
- 2020 Earnings: $42.7 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $97.86
Tricia Griffith - President and CEO
Tricia was appointed as President, CEO, and a member of the Board of Directors in July 2016. She has been with Progressive since she joined as a Claims Representative in 1988. Most recently, before assuming her current role, Tricia was the Personal Lines Chief Operating Officer of the company.
Ross Stores, Inc.
You may know this company better as its brand name, Ross Dress for Less. In 1982, the company was founded with a focus on bringing customers high-quality department and specialty store brands at a bargain. It is now the United State’s largest off-price retail chain.
- 2020 Earnings: $12.5 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $126.52
Barbara Rentler - Vice-Chair and CEO
Barbara has been the CEO and member of the Board of Directors since 2014. In May 2021, she also became the Vice-Chair of the Board. Barbara has been at the company since 1986.
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA)
TIAA is a financial organization that provides investment and insurance services specifically for individuals who work in education, medicine, culture, and research. It was founded in 1918 with a $1 million endowment from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Up until 2016, the company was named TIAA-CREF, or the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association—College Retirement Equities Fund.
- 2020 Earnings: $41.6 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $19.45
Thasunda Brown Duckett - President and CEO
Thasunda is one of two black women that currently lead a Fortune 500 firm. She was previously the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and Chase Auto Finance.
The Clorox Company
The Clorox Company began in 1913 with one product: bleach. The company is now made up of a variety of brands that are sold in more than 100 countries around the world. These brands include Clorox, Fresh Step, Glad, Green Works, Pine-Sol, and Tilex.
- 2020 Earnings: $6.7 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $181.30
Linda Rendle - CEO
Linda became the CEO of the company in September 2020, after almost 20 years with the company. Before working for The Clorox Company, Linda worked for Procter & Gamble.
Ulta Beauty is the largest U.S. beauty retailer, with a robust website of products available for purchase as well as locations across the country. It carries cosmetics and skincare brands, nail products, hair care products, beauty tools, fragrances, and bath and body products. Ulta Beauty also offers hair, brow, and skin services within its store locations.
- 2020 Earnings: $6.2 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $351.97
Mary Dillon - CEO
Mary has been the CEO of Ulta Beauty since 2013. Before joining Ulta, she served as Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of McDonald’s and the CEO and President of U.S. Cellular.
In June 2021, Mary became the Executive Chair of the Board of Directors, and she is expected to stay on with Ulta for one year in this role. The CEO position will then be held by Dave Kimbell, who is being promoted from his position as President of Ulta Beauty.
United Parcel Service (UPS)
Founded in 1907, UPS is one of the world’s largest shipping couriers. It was originally known as the American Messenger Company and specialized in telegraphs initially. Today, it is a multinational shipping & receiving and supply chain management company.
- 2020 Earnings: $84.6 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $211.29
Carol Tome - CEO
Carol was the Chief Financial Officer of Home Depot and retired in 2019 after 24 years with the company. She also was a board member of UPS and had been since 2003. When no one fit the bill to take over as CEO for UPS, Carol was approached about the role. She quickly dove back into work, reorganizing the management structure and elevating the importance of diversity and inclusion within the first year.
Walgreen Company, more commonly known as Walgreens, is the second-largest pharmacy store chain in the United States.
- 2020 Earnings: $28 billion
- Stock value (close, July 6, 2021): $47.70
Rosalind “Roz” Brewer - CEO
Roz was Starbucks’ first Black and first female Chief Operating Officer and has now moved on to become the CEO of Walgreens. Before her roles at Walgreens and Starbucks, Roz served as the CEO of Sam’s Club.
The bottom line
In today’s world, the fact that women are leading some of the country’s top companies shouldn’t be big news, but it is. Slowly but surely, women are beginning to get the recognition that they deserve in the business world, and we can only hope that things will keep moving forward in this direction. Fortunately, there is a global nonprofit named Catalyst that is dedicated to building workplaces that work for women. It has been working on accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion since 1962, and it keeps working to provide end-to-end solutions for companies.
Though women sadly do not makeup even 1/10 of the Fortune 500 top companies, women do lead some of the biggest companies in America today. From healthcare to motor-vehicle companies and financial institutions, women CEOs are out there trying to push real change forward in America, within their companies, and beyond.