5 June, 2012
Diversity searches are becoming an increasingly important part of the executive hiring process, as many companies look to bring different types of people into the C-suite and boardroom. In particular, the future for female CEOs is looking bright.
A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that while the ranks of female chief executive officers in the U.S. remain thin, with women holding the top spot at only 35 Fortune 1000 companies, the picture is changing. According to Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of telecom firm Frontier Communications Corp., a number of companies, including Procter & Gamble and Xerox, may soon have female CEOs.
Catalyst, a New York-based research group, reports that nearly 73% of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. have at least one female executive officer. However, women comprise only about 14% of executive officers in total.
The U.S. has a ways to go - but it is still ahead of a number of other major economic powerhouses in terms of diversity, most notably Japan.
In a separate article, Hitachi Chairman Takashi Kawamura told the Wall Street Journal that his company is making efforts to diversify its leadership, pointing out that executive teams with backgrounds that are too similar often don't produce the type of groundbreaking ideas that are vital to major companies.
During the meeting of Hitachi's 30-member executive group, Kawamura recounted, the most radical ideas were often shot down or drastically watered down. “This is the worst part of Japanese homogenous thinking – all the edges are ground down,” he said.
While Kawamura was referring specifically to Japan, the dangers of homogenous boards certainly exist in America. According to the Journal, investors are starting to recognize this and call for diversity searches when companies seek to fill a vacancy on their management teams.
The future does appear bright for female executives in America. As a new study conducted by McKinsey & Co. for The Wall Street Journal reveals, 24% of senior vice presidents at 58 big companies are now women.