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U.S. companies have more female CFOs than ever before

October 7, 2020, 12:31 PM UTC
The Allen & Co. Media And Technology Conference
Sarah Friar, chief executive officer of Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview on the sidelines of the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S., on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. The 36th annual event gathers many of America's wealthiest and most powerful people in media, technology, and sports. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Eileen Murray settles with Bridgewater, Michelle Obama has a final pitch for the Biden-Harris campaign, and the number of female CFOs reaches a record. Have a lovely Wednesday.

– A CFO record. The Broadsheet has been tracking the record number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 this year, but there’s another all-time high to report: The number of female CFOs.

According to data from executive recruiter Crist Kolder Associates, there are 90 female CFOs at S&P 500 and Fortune 500 firms, surpassing the previous peak of 89 in 2018, Bloomberg reports. Recent female CFO appointments include Ann Gugino at Papa John’s, Gina Goetter at Harley-Davidson and Amy O’Keefe at WW International.

Tom Kolder, president of Crist Kolder, told Bloomberg the trend reflects the fierce competition for finance jobs; firms are looking deeper into their finance bench, where more women are present.

Once in the role, women have an impressive track record. A study by S&P Global Market Intelligence last year found that in the first 24 months of a woman taking over as CFO, companies on average saw a 6% uptick in profits and an 8% better stock return , compared to performance under male predecessors.

Still, being CFO is not a common stepping stone for the CEO role. In fact, over the last eight years, no more than 7% of sitting CEOs came directly from the CFO role, according to Crist Kolder.

It’s a trend I talked to Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar about last year. She was a rare CFO to make the jump, having been Square’s chief financial officer before taking her current chief executive position. As to why that move is so rare, Friar said the mindsets of the jobs are vastly different; a CFO must provide discipline, while a CEO is often required to take risks.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- First person. On two recent political issues, Sen. Tammy Duckworth drew on her personal experience to make a decision. First, she pushed through Congress legislation requiring all airports to have lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers—after traveling without access to such a space. Second, she wrote to her Senate colleagues about having her children through IVF—and how she believes Amy Coney Barrett would threaten access to the fertility procedure. Duckworth discusses the issues in an interview here: Fortune

- The mystery of MacKenzie. Curious about MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos)? The world's most intriguing philanthropist won't give an interview, but this story features the insights of her friends, former coworkers, former teachers, and more: Marker

- Final countdown. In a new "closing argument" message for the Biden-Harris campaign, Michelle Obama says that President Trump is "stoking fears about Black and brown Americans." She calls his actions "morally wrong" and "racist." CNN

- Water under the bridge. Eileen Murray reached a settlement with Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund where she served as co-CEO. Murray sued the firm for gender discrimination and unequal pay (the sum in dispute was between $20 and $100 million). Neither side disclosed the details of the settlement. Financial Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Stella Bugbee stepped down as editor-in-chief of The Cut and will become editor-at-large for New York magazine. Andrea Wishom, former EVP for Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions, joins Nextdoor's board of directors. Wunderman Thompson hired Ezinne (Kwubiri) Okoro, former head of inclusion and diversity for H&M in North America, as its chief inclusion, equity, and diversity officer. Tia hired Kathleen Jordan as SVP of medical affairs and Jessica Horwitz as VP of virtual care and clinical operations. ACME Capital promoted Aike (Tiffany) Ho to principal. Amplitude hired former Tenable CMO Jennifer Johnson as chief marketing and strategy officer.


- Good for the globe. Good news from Kristalina Georgieva: the global economic picture is "less dire" than it appeared in June. The International Monetary Fund managing director updated the organization's forecast. Wall Street Journal

- Genius grants. This year's MacArthur Genius Grant winners include women doing fascinating work, from authors Tressie McMillan Cottom and Jacqueline Woodson to biologist Polina V. Lishko. The National Book Foundation also announced finalists for its annual award, which will include a posthumous tribute to former Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy. 

- Behind the wall. The Wall of Moms protest movement in Portland, Oregon drew lots of attention—but went wrong in one key way, participants now tell Fortune's Brooke Henderson. The effort overshadowed activist work by Black mothers that far predated the group. Fortune


On Zoom, nobody knows you're pregnant The Cut

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"A lot of people as they get older get more protected and terrified. My desire is to keep throwing myself into things."

-Nicole Kidman in a New York Times interview