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Women CEOs Lead More Than 10% of Fortune 500 Companies For the First Time

2023 is already setting out to be record year for women in leadership roles. For the first time since the Fortune 500 list began 68 years ago, more than 10% of CEOs leading Fortune 500 Companies were women.

Five new women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies began their roles as of January 1, 2023, which tipped the percentage balance to over 10%, or to 53 CEOs, according to data from Fortune. As of the summer of 2022, that percentage was closer to 8.8%.

Within retail, the influx of female CEOs was a major storyline throughout 2022, persisting into through 2023. Amid a general shakeup across retail, CEO shifts have opened the door for new leaders — often women — to come into the top position. In December, Under Armour announced that Stephanie Linnartz would become president, CEO and member of its board of directors, effective Feb. 27, 2023. She replaced Patrik Frisk, who stepped down from the role in June. 

And this past summer, Foot Locker tapped Mary Dillon as its new CEO, replacing Dick Johnson. Lead independent director Dona Young also replaced Johnson as the company’s non-executive chair, putting Foot Locker in the rare position among public companies of having two women at the helm of its board and C-Suite.

Outside of the CEO spot, women are earning top roles at other major brands. Nicole Otto was appointed to the global brand president role at The North Face in June. And at Nike, women now lead three of the company’s geographic regions — Sarah Mensah, VP/GM of North America; Amy Montagne, VP/GM of Asia Pacific and Latin America; and Angelo Dong, VP/GM of Greater China. Plus, Heidi O’Neill was named as its first female president of Nike Consumer and Marketplace in April 2020.

At the same time, CEO departures can sometimes complicate the progress made in gender diversity in the top role. For example, Caleres announced that Diane Sullivan would transition from CEO to the executive chairman role on Jan. 15, 2023, with Jay Schmidt taking the reins as CEO.

In other cases, female CEOs are jumping to other companies. Kohl’s in November said that Michelle Gass would step down from her role as CEO and member of the board of directors, effective December 2. She left to join Levi Strauss & Co. as president and CEO in waiting to replace president Chip Bergh within the next 18 months.

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