Fortune: The C-Suite Remains a Male Bastion

DiscoverOrg employs 150 editors to gather its multi-level executive database across 60,000 global organizations.
DiscoverOrg employs 150 editors to gather its multi-level executive database across 60,000 global organizations.

Fortune employed DiscoverOrg C-Level executive data to analyze the presence of women in the C-Suite. Of the 9,975 C-level executives evaluated, only 18% were female. At the corporate apex, only 6.9% of the CEOs and 6.7% of Board Chairs were women. That is fewer than one in fourteen execs.

Of the twelve titles assessed, only four have female population rates above twenty five percent:

  • 31.9% Chief Legal Officer
  • 36.4% Chief Compliance Officer
  • 48.0% Chief Marketing Officer
  • 62.2% Chief Human Resources Officer

Even more concerning is that the top two positions leading to the CEO position, COO (7.2%) and CFO (8.8%), remain male bastions.

“The biggest surprise to me was how little gender diversity there still is,” opined DiscoverOrg CEO Henry Schuck. “You might expect less than 50% of C-level executives to be women, but I was surprised at how much less it was.”


I also found it interesting that this research was employed using DiscoverOrg data and not a public company dataset from Reuters, FactSet, S&P, Mergent, etc.  Any of these public information vendors could have also provided the data as well, but DiscoverOrg had an advantage in that it researches the full C-suite (and several levels below it) and reverifies data every ninety days.  While the other vendors are also likely to have highly accurate data for the C-Suite, they are dependent upon SEC filings to recognize executive changes.  Thus, they would be as accurate as DiscoverOrg for CEO, Chairman, COO, CFO, and Chief Legal Officer, but are less likely to be accurate for positions which report into the CEO, CFO , and COO.  Here, DiscoverOrg’s curated data collection methods have a data quality advantage.

What would be fascinating is if DiscoverOrg analyzed their data by function, level, and sector across the Fortune 1000.  They already have data sets for Finance, Marketing, Product Management (TEDD), and IT with several others ready to launched by the end of the year.  Assuming DiscoverOrg can provide historical cuts of their database, the IT function can be evaluated going back a half decade or more with Finance and Marketing for a few years.  At a minimum, such an analysis would make for some fascinating blogs, but it could also be an invaluable dataset for academic research.

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