Last week I spoke at Allies in Tech. Given their mission, it wasn’t surprising that the room was filled mostly women – and there were two men present. Yay!
My topic was why inclusion is the key to diversity.
As I was looking for images for an activity, I came across a few statistics about CEOs that I thought I would share here as well.
The Demographics of Fortune 500 CEOs
There are only 24 female CEOS in America’s Fortune 500 companies.
In 2017 there were 32… in an age of increasing focus on diversity, this seems odd. Of those 24 female CEOs, how many do you think are not white?
Joey Watt is the CEO of Yum China.
Joey had some company until recently:
Geisha Williams left PG&E this year.
Indira Nooyi left PepsiCo last year.
And Ursula Burns left Xerox in 2016 – then (and still) the only Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
And then there was one.
Male CEOs of colour are not doing much better. As of 2018, there were three.
What about CEOs with disabilities?
You get my point, right?
The Cyclical Nature of Representation
One of the things that I talk about often in my sessions is the cyclical nature of representation. It starts with role models, leads to assumptions and stereotypes, filters into treatment and expectations and then …voila… it impacts representation all over again.
Privilege and identity have a role in this. And there are multiple intersecting layers to this story that include isms, discrimination, barriers to access, poverty, conscious and unconscious bias, etc. etc. People in workplaces right now will have more or less of a chance to rise depending on if they look like the current leadership – because that’s who we see when we think “leader”. So making change now is important for those who could be in line for those positions to be able to get in line for those positions. And be taken seriously.
And what about our children? Children aspire to what they can see in the world as large and in “their world” – their family, their community, their small sphere. What/who they see there informs what is possible. And if we don’t do a better job diversifying the workforce in all sectors, and at all levels (most importantly at leadership levels), we will see these abysmal numbers in the CEO world (and other leadership levels) continue into another generation.
And that’s sad.