New Survey: Only 15 Percent of C-Level U.S. Executives Are Female

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Apple, Intel, Exxon and Citigroup are among the major American companies that have no women on their Executive Committee (positions that report directly to the CEO). In Europe there are no women on the Executive Committee at Deutsche Bank or BMW and in Asia women are absent from Toyota, Canon and Panasonic. To compound matters, many companies are increasingly making it difficult to ascertain just how many women are employed by keeping gender “under cover.” Various techniques have become common on corporate websites and in annual reports to camouflage the gender of corporate leaders including removing all photos, reducing first names to an initial, or adding huge numbers of people to something called the “Leadership Team” to misdirect observers.

20-first's 2010 Womenomics 101 Survey

We are concerned that the number of women at executive levels in the US remains limited,” says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, the CEO of 20-First.

The international gender consultancy 20-First ( has just released its 2010 WOMENOMICS 101 SURVEY revealing that although 87 percent of the United States’ top 101 companies have at least one woman on their Executive Committee, only 193 out of the 1,230 Executive Committee members are women, or just 15 percent. “The vast majority of the female Executive Committee members (139 out of a total of 193) are in staff or support positions such as Human Resources, Communications or Legal, rather than operational Profit & Loss roles. We are concerned that the number of women at executive levels in the US remains limited. It is hardly a basis for continued improvement of gender balance in the future, where P&L experience is a prerequisite for leadership,” says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, the CEO of 20-First.

20-First, an international gender consultancy that works with progressive companies interested in optimizing both halves of the market and talent pool, releases the WOMENOMICS 101 SURVEY annually focusing on a single measure of progress: the gender balance on the Executive Committee of the top 101 companies of the Global Fortune 500 in three key regions of the globe.

Among the other key findings of the 2010 WOMENOMICS 101 SURVEY:

Europe and Asia Lag: In Europe 44 percent of companies have at least one woman on their Executive Committees -- and yet only 7 percent of the total numbers of Executive Committee members of the top 101 European companies are women. In Asia 23 percent of companies have at least one woman on their Executive Committees. However, of the 734 members that make up the Executive Committee of Asia’s top 101 companies, only 20 are women (3 percent).

Boards vs. Executive Committees: Figures show that the spread of government quotas on corporate boards in several European countries (Norway, Spain and France to date) seems to be working in encouraging companies to get some women onto their boards -- but not yet into the crucial roles of operational leadership at Executive Committee level.

However, top companies can no longer ignore the importance of gender balance. A growing number of studies, from McKinsey, Catalyst and a range of universities, show the correlation between gender balance in leadership and improved corporate performance. The complementary skills and styles of men and women have a positive impact on business, which is not surprising when most of the educated talent in the world, and a majority of the consumer market, is female.

The data for this survey is based on publicly available information provided by the top Fortune 101 companies in each region (United States, Europe, and Asia) on their websites. Data was collected as of July 31, 2010.

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is CEO of 20-first. Based in Paris, she works with progressive companies interested in both halves of the talent pool and both halves of the market – the female and male halves. 20-first innovates in the area of gender by focusing on leaders rather than on women. They promote “gender balance” (a balance of men and women) rather than “women in leadership.” She helps companies develop more inclusive leadership styles, promote more gender-balanced management teams and review processes and policies to better respond to women – both as employees and consumers. She is the author of How Women Mean Business: A Step-by-Step Guide to Profiting From Gender Balance Business (Wiley & Sons, 2010) and co-author of Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution, (Wiley & Sons, 2008) with Alison Maitland.

Press Contacts: press(at)20-first(dot)com or +33 1 39 75 42 24


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