Women currently hold 29 CEO positions at S&P 500 companies1. Although that is still only a small percentage (5.8%, to be exact), their impact has been huge. Across boardrooms worldwide, company stakeholders are seeing the very practical rewards as a result of electing a woman to take the helm, and leading companies’ stocks have shown impressive gains once their current female CEOs have taken over.
In honour of International Women’s Day, let’s take a closer look at how some of the most powerful female CEOs have led their business empires to prosperity.
President and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)
Gains since taking over: +3038.9%
Dr. Lisa T. Su has been leading tech titan AMD since October 2014, and is credited with integrating and optimising the many facets of AMD’s global business into a single cohesive and successful brand. From high-performance computing, to advanced gaming technologies, to data management solutions, AMD serves hundreds of millions of consumers, Fortune 500 companies and scientific research facilities. Su has succeeded in turning AMD around to become one of the largest tech firms in the world, standing proudly alongside other industry giants such as NVIDIA and Intel.
CEO of Gap Inc. (GPS)
Gains since taking over: +203.4%
Female representation among incoming CEOs in the fashion industry grew by 95.1% in 20202, and Sonia Syngal is a notable example of the trend. In just one year, Syngal led
Gap Inc., a global fashion giant which includes well-known sub brands such as Old Navy and Banana Republic, from a sharp pandemic-induced crash back to successful stability.
Taking the helm at a volatile time, when the heavily mall-based retailer was forced into massive store closures, Syngal succeeded in turning things around by strengthening the company’s portfolio of brands and optimising the online shopping experience for its customers.
Mary T. Barra
Chairman and CEO of General Motors Co. (GM)
Gains since taking over: +50.4%
Mary Barra has served as CEO of GM since 2014, as well as becoming Chairman two years later. She has focused on strengthening GM’s core business of automotive vehicle manufacturing and servicing while improving customer experience of the brand. Under Barra’s leadership, GM has committed to adopting advanced technologies which will help to transform personal transportation, such as electric cars and autonomous driving. Such forward thinking has driven GM to be considered today as one of the leading companies for the future of the automobile industry.
CEO of Hershey Co. (HSY)
Gains since taking over: +34.2%
Michele Buck was appointed CEO of Hershey, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, in March 2017, but began working for the company back in 2005. Buck has succeeded in transforming the famous 126-year-old small town candy maker into a multinational snack mogul by expanding its products through a series of smart acquisitions as well as spearheading innovation in Hershey’s core sub-brands to keep up with changing consumer habits.
CEO of Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY)
Gains since taking over: +58.2%
Best Buy is the leading provider of consumer technology products and services in North America, with over 125,000 employees and nearly $44 billion in annual revenue. Prior to becoming CEO in June 2019, Corie Barry played a critical role in completely transforming Best Buy’s brand as Chief Financial and Strategic Transformation Officer. She faced her first major challenge as CEO during the coronavirus pandemic, quickly implementing changes in operations — shifting focus to online sales and curbside pickups. This enabled Best Buy to take advantage of increased demand for office gear and electronics driven by the nationwide shift to remote work. Under Barry’s leadership, Best Buy has flourished, with a projected annual revenue of $50 billion by 2025.
1. Catalyst, Women CEOs of the S&P 500 (February 9, 2021)
2. Nextail, Fashion’s newest CEOs at the top of 2021 (February 3, 2021)