The Fortune 500 is set to have more female CEOs than ever before

August 4, 2020, 12:45 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Elle deems Rep. Katie Porter Congress’s ‘everywoman,’ SpaceX has a new power couple, and Fortune 500 female CEOs have hit a new high. Have a thoughtful Tuesday.

– 38! Two weeks ago, The Broadsheet reported on the 36th female CEO to join the Fortune 500 when Joanne Crevoiserat took over as Tapestry’s interim chief executive. Sue Nabi will be No. 37 when she becomes CEO of Coty on Sept. 1. And as of yesterday, the Fortune 500 is set to get its 38th women CEO when Linda Rendle takes over The Clorox Company’s corner office on Sept. 14.

Should CEO ranks hold between now and then, that 38 total will represent a record-high number of female chief executives.

It will be the third time in three years that the Fortune 500 has reached such a high. It did so in 2019 with 33 and again this past May with 37. Those bright spots followed a backslide in 2018, when the figure dropped 25% over the course of a year to 24.

Experts have attributed the slow but steady progress on this front, in part, to company boards becoming more diverse, which is itself a product of institutional investors demanding new blood in boardrooms. Christy Glass, a professor at Utah State University, told me last year that her research with co-author Alison Cook “has shown that when boards are well-integrated with women, women are much more likely to be appointed CEOs.” The push for board diversity, she said, “may be paying off in terms of women appointed as CEOs.”

To be sure, 38 female CEOs is still a minuscule share of Fortune 500 leadership overall and there is little racial diversity among the women that make up the too-elite club. But the trend, at least in terms of gender diversity, remains headed in the right direction.

Rendle, for her part, will replace Clorox’s CEO of nearly six years, Benno Dorer. As my colleague Phil Wahba reports, she was named president in May, a move that telegraphed the 42-year-old’s ascent to the top job. What’s more, Rendle’s promotion does not seem to be an instance of the so-called glass cliff, as has been the case with other recent appointments. Her new role was announced on Monday as Clorox reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- The everywoman of Congress. When Rep. Katie Porter logged on for this Elle interview in April, she needed to vent. "I didn’t get elected because I’m rich and able to self-fund. I haven’t been in office for 20 years. ... I just want to scream at people like, ‘My life does not look like yours!'" she says of her Congressional colleagues. Read the profile of Congress's "superhero" and "everywoman" here: Elle

- Calling for change. Esther Salas, the federal judge whose son was killed by a gunman with a history of misogynist and anti-feminist rhetoric, spoke out for the first time about the tragedy. She's calling for better measures to keep judges' personal information private. Guardian

- First women. Three Chicago women—one a restaurant owner dissatisfied with her lending options, one an attorney, and one a career finance executive—together are launching First Women's Bank. They recruited Marianne Markowitz, a former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, as CEO of the bank founded to serve women-owned businesses. Chicago Tribune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Personal Care Products Council named Keech Combe Shetty, executive chair of Combe Incorporated, as chair of its own board of directors. Quicken Loans' Nicole Booth joins Notarize as EVP of public affairs. Pantheon hired former SAP Concur CMO Christy Marble in the same role. Principal Financial Group hired Decooda's Jennifer Oyler as head of customer experience.


- Anonymous allegation. In the U.K., an unnamed Tory member of Parliament has been arrested, suspected of raping a parliamentary aide. The Conservative Party faces pressure to suspend the MP from Parliament, but has not yet done so. The Times

- Drinking responsibly. Ann Mukherjee took over as CEO of Pernod Ricard, the company behind liquor brands Absolut, Malibu, and Jameson, in December. Soon, she was navigating a pandemic that closed bars across the nation. In this interview, she talks about realizing she was pushing employees too hard during an extraordinarily difficult time—and agrees that some bars reopened too soon without protection measures in place. Wall Street Journal 

- Out of this world. Astronaut Bob Behnken returned to Earth on Sunday from SpaceX's launch, the first successful orbit by a private company. Now, astronaut Megan McArthur will join her husband Behnken in the SpaceX pipeline, piloting the company's Crew Dragon spaceship next spring. Houston Chronicle


COVID-19 is causing a backslide in workplace gender equality. Here’s how to stop it Fortune

The newsroom where politics is not about men The Cut

Betsy Ancker-Johnson broke a glass ceiling as a GM vice president Wall Street Journal


"This is not just a battle wound. This is something that has changed my life forever."

-Model Ashley Graham on pregnancy

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