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As we close out 2020, with all of the challenges we have faced, the Women Business Collaborative (WBC) applauds the good news from the private sector: the numbers of women and women of color sitting in C-suite, at the CEO level, and on Boards is increasing.   This data gives us hope, even at the end of a disturbing and challenging year.  As vaccines are in sight and being dispensed, and food insecurity and economic pressures acute, we are all aware that more assistance is needed but we can see the light and are ready for more action in 2021.

At the same time, because of quick and focused action by the private sector in response to the various calls for action in 2020, we cite change in the elevation of women and women of color. It is more than platitudes and commitment statements. The private sector companies and groups like the WBC and our 43+ partner organizations are setting clear targets and goals and working to accelerate our work in the areas of diversity and leadership.  We applaud the companies which stepped up to address the racial inequities and injustice laid bare by the Black Lives Matter movement.  CEO’s stepped forward with hiring and board commitments on diversity, inclusion and action. Women leaving the workforce due to the pandemic will affect the pipeline, we hope only temporarily and that corporations are learning to ensure flexibility, that working from home is possible and maybe more productive.  WBC is finding good news in the numbers we share today and the strength of the women’s business movement.

The Number of Women CEOs  has risen: On October 26, WBC with our partners C200 and Catalyst published the Women CEOs in America Report. the first report of women CEOs across public and private companies and a website where we can learn more about the women CEOS leading companies and industries.  The data shows an increase in the number of women CEOS. In December 2019, Women held 30 (6.0%) of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies. At the start of 2020, women comprised 6.7% of CEO positions and with the close of 2020, women are 7.8% of CEO positions across all companies. And the number is rising as Citigroup, CVS, and Dick’s Sporting goods have named women CEOs who will take office in February 2021. We are looking at women CEOs rising to as of Feb. 1st to 8.2%. WBC, C200 and Catalyst project we can hit at least 9 or 10% in 2021.  This is important are our aims are that women constitute 15% of Fortune 500 and S&P roles by 2025 with 10% of those being women of color.  To build this we are calling for 30% of women executives to be assessed for CEO positions by 2025 and 25% of those women be women of color.

Women of Color and Women Overall are Taking Seats on Boards of public Companies:  The WBC and Equilar joined forces to publish a monthly report, Women Joining Public Boards – the first of its kind report listing and tracking monthly women who have been named to the boards of public companies. The Women Joining Public Boards report shows the numbers, rate and profiles of women appointed to public boards with a focus on diversity and analysis of the industry sectors where women are participating on boards. For the first three months we have tracked the data, it appears more than 40% average women being named and one-third women of color.

In October 2020, public companies appointed women to fill 40.2% of board seats. This is 123 women were named to public boards in October – and two of those women joined the boards of more than one company.  In October. 44 women identified as women of color with 27.7% of those identifying as African American. The trend continued in November as 113 women were appointed and of those 24 are African American. For comparison, in January 2020 no women appointed to boards of public companies in the Russell 3000 index identified as women of color while in November that number is 33 and trend continues.

NASDAQ has put forth its commitment to require the more than 3,000 companies listed on its stock exchange to improve boardroom diversity by appointing at least one woman and at least one minority or LGBTQ+ person to their boards. This is big news. WBCs and members of its Women in the Boardroom Initiative (which has a total of 11 partner organizations) have voiced support for NASDAQ’s commitment.  The WBC Women in the Boardroom Initiative calls for women to hold 30% of Fortune 500, S&P and Russell 3000 seats by 2025 and 10% of those women be women of color in 2025 but by 2030 we want women of color to be 50% of seats held by women on boards. This call is being heard as companies continue to appoint more women and women of color.

WBC will continue to track not only the women, in terms of numbers, diversity and profile; but the companies and in which industries where women are leading from the C-Suite to the Board level.

The WBC has aligned our work against 9 Action Initiative with clear targets for Women CEOs, C Suite, Boards, Entrepreneurs and Capital firms as well as Women and Technology. Diversity must result in at least 25% women of color in all we do.

The time is now for all women to sit across all companies, all boards and all sectors! Let’s continue to accelerate progress in 2021!

We also celebrate all the CEOs stepping up with commitments. Whether BlackRock or Bank of America, Microsoft, Walmart and others, the messages are clear. CEOs, with CHROs, DE&I Officers and Boards are pushing toward reporting results. The Business Roundtable and other groups can be saluted as well.  As we enter 2021, let us celebrate all the change that will occur and report on it.

For 2021 we are expecting bold action and will report the data and examples. Expect change! Expect accountability! Expect good news ahead in 2021. Happy New Year.

Edie Fraser, CEO and Gwen Young, COO, WBC


WBC is the first women’s business collaborative and movement of women’s business organizations to track, analyze, and promote women’s leadership across business. We focus on data and impact. Our vision is to accelerate progress by changing the numbers and the face of leadership -with diversity at the forefront of all.