Female CEOs of top companies: There’s good news — and bad news

Barbara E. Kauffman, EWNJ president-elect and the chief operating officer of the Newark Regional Business Partnership. – Executive Women of New Jersey

Michele Siekerka opened the women business leaders forum, “Unlocking the C-Suite,” with good news Friday morning.

“There’s so much good news about unlocking the C-suite and women rising to the C-suite and the boardroom,” said Siekerka, the CEO and president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which hosted the event.

“Fortune 500 recently published the list of the Top 500 public and private companies across the country. And you might take a note of some big numbers, like Walmart’s $485 billion in revenue and Amazon’s 297 percent increase in profit. Those weren’t the numbers I was paying attention to. The number I was paying attention to, in particular: 32.

“Thirty-two Fortune 500 companies are led by women CEOs.”

The statistic drew a round of applause from the approximate crowd of 500 at the DoubleTree hotel in Somerset.

Then, Siekerka put it in perspective.

“That is a 50 percent increase from the year before,” she said. “But 32 is only 6 percent of the total.

“Think about that. In one year, a 50 percent increase but still only 6 percent of the total. We know how important diversity in the C-suite and the boardroom is.”

The statistic was an impetus for the event, which had numerous speakers and pullout sessions throughout the day. (ROI-NJ will have complete coverage next week.)

“Today is a morning of skill building,” Siekerka said. “Because, in order to get there, you need the skills to get there. And people need to know you have those skills.”

The event is just one that will highlight women in the workplace issues.

In October, the Executive Women of New Jersey will unveil its much-anticipated report, “A Seat at the Table.”

The report, based on research by PricewaterhouseCoopers, is the only one of its kind in the state and will be released Oct. 30 at the event at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick.

Barbara E. Kauffman, EWNJ president-elect and the chief operating officer of the Newark Regional Business Partnership, stressed the importance of the report.

“Our report is the centerpiece of our efforts to advance women’s corporate leadership,” she said. “It allows us to quantify for the public and for companies how gender diversity on boards contributes to stronger financial performance and fewer governance-related issues such as bribery, corruption, shareholder battles, and fraud.”

Kauffman, speaking at the NJBIA event Friday, said the report will be eye-opening for many.

“The information in the report is amazing,” she said.