The number of female CEOs running Global 500 companies hits a record high—of just 4.8%

August 3, 2022, 1:58 PM UTC
Global 500 CEOs (from left) Emma Walmsley of GSK, Amanda Blanc of Aviva, and Tan Sin Yin of Ping An.
Courtesy of GSK, Aviva, and Ping An

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan, Sheryl Sandberg departs as Meta’s COO, and female CEOs run just 4.8% of Global 500 businesses. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

– Going global. Just over two months after the publication of this year’s Fortune 500, it’s time for the next major Fortune franchise: the Global 500.

While 44 female CEOs led just 8.8% of Fortune 500 businesses, the statistics for their global counterparts are even bleaker. Women CEOs lead 24 companies on the Global 500, a mere 4.8% of the world’s largest businesses.

Progress for female CEOs on the Global 500 has always been slower than among the American businesses that populate the Fortune 500. The companies on the Global 500 are larger than on the Fortune 500 since the list ranks not just the biggest businesses in one country but in the world. Female CEOs also typically run smaller businesses—across both the domestic and international rankings—rather than the giants that make up the highest ranks of the lists. Still, corporate America, for all its faults, has had more success elevating female executives to CEO positions than big businesses in other regions.

There is some overlap between the two lists; 122 Global 500 businesses are also Fortune 500 businesses. And among the 24 female CEOs who run Global 500 companies, 13 are Fortune 500 leaders.

Newcomers this year include Christel Heydemann, who became CEO of the French telecommunications business Orange in April; Alka Mittal, who took over India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corporation on an interim basis in January; and Estelle Brachlianoff, who was promoted to CEO of the French utility business Veolia Environment in July.

Global 500 CEOs (from left) Emma Walmsley of GSK, Amanda Blanc of Aviva, and Tan Sin Yin of Ping An.
Courtesy of GSK, Aviva, and Ping An

Other familiar faces at non-U.S. companies include Martina Merz, leader of the German materials business ThyssenKrupp, and Amanda Blanc, who leads the British insurer Aviva.

CVS Health, like on the Fortune 500, is the highest-ranking Global 500 business to be led by a female CEO (Karen Lynch). The healthcare company is ranked No. 10 on the Global 500 and No. 4 on the Fortune 500. Other women-led American businesses to appear on the list include Best Buy, led by Corie Barry; Citigroup, led by Jane Fraser; and TIAA, led by Thasunda Brown Duckett).

Only a handful of female CEOs of Global 500 companies are women of color. They include Tan Sin Yin, co-CEO of China’s Ping An Insurance; Roz Brewer of Walgreens Boots Alliance; Mittal of Oil & Natural Gas; and Duckett of TIAA.

This year’s minuscule 4.8% is nevertheless an all-time record. Just 17 female CEOs ran Global 500 businesses in 2014, the year Fortune began tracking such data. In the eight years since, the count has dropped to a low of 12 and risen to this year’s high of 24.

Read the full story and see the full list of Global 500 female CEOs here.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.


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