There’s record number of female CEOs running Fortune 500 companies (37), but only one is in N.J.

Kristin Peck took over the top job of Parsippany-based Zoetis on Jan. 1

By Tom Bergeron
New Jersey | May 19, 2020 at 5:21 pm

The Executive Women of New Jersey have long pushed the proven statistic that having more women on your board — and in top leadership positions — makes your company more profitable.

Corporate America finally may be listening.

The Fortune 500 list came out this week — and it included a record number of female CEOs.

Before you get too excited, realize this: Women run only 37 of the 500 companies, which would be 16.5% — a figure that’s obviously far lower than the general population.

Heyward Donigan of Rite Aid, formerly of New Jersey’s Sapphire Digital.

And the numbers are worse in New Jersey, which has just one female chief executive — Kristin Peck of Parsippany-based Zoetis — among the state’s 17 companies on the list.

Peck was elevated to CEO on Jan. 1.

New Jersey has had more CEOs in the past. And it can take partial credit for Heyward Donigan, who became the CEO of Rite Aid last August. She previously was the top executive at Lyndhurst-based Sapphire Digital (formerly Vitals).

The overall list has four more CEOS than in 2019. And it has 22 more than 2010, when there were just 15.

Twenty years ago, at the start of the century, there were only two female CEOs on the Fortune 500.

Eight women run Fortune 100 companies, led by Mary Barra of No. 18 General Motors. And 20 of the 37 run companies in the Top 250. Of the 37 women, 34 are white and three were women of color (all Asian).

EWNJ’s biennial report, A Seat at the Table, details the value of having more women on boards, including:

  • Companies with at least one women director have had a better share price performance than those companies without women for the last six years.
  • A Credit Suisse report compared companies with fewer than 10% women in senior management to those with 15% or more and found a 52% higher return on equity for companies with more women.
  • Companies with more women on their board not only have stronger financial performance but also fewer governance-related issues such as bribery, corruption, shareholder battles and fraud, according to research by State Street Global Advisors, one of the largest investment management firms in the world.

The list of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies:

  1. General Motors (Mary Barra)
  1. Anthem (Gail Boudreaux)
  1. UPS (Carol Tome)
  1. Best Buy (Corie Barry)
  1. Oracle (Safra Catz)
  1. General Dynamics (Phebe Novakovi)
  1. Progressive (Susan Patricia Griffith)
  1. Northrop Grumman (Kathy Warden)
  1. Duke Energy (Lynn Good)
  1. Occidental Petroleum (Vicki Hollub)
  1. Rite Aid (Heyward Donigan)
  1. Autonation (Cheryl Miller)
  1. Kohl’s (Michelle Gass)
  1. Synchrony Financial (Margaret Keane)
  1. CDW (Christine Leahy)
  1. GAP (Sonia Syngal)
  1. Ross Stores (Barbara Rentler)
  1. Reinsurance Group of America (Anna Manning)
  1. Land O’Lakes (Beth Ford)
  1. Guardian Life Insurance (Deanna Mulligan)
  1. J.C. Penney (Jill Soltau)
  1. Hertz Global Holdings (Kathryn Marinello)
  1. (Edward) Jones Financial (Penny Pennington)
  1. Yum China (Joey Wat)
  1. Thrivent Financial (Teresa Rasmussen)
  1. Hershey (Michelle Buck)
  1. Veritiv (Mary Laschinger)
  1. Graybar Electric (Kathleen Mazzarella)
  1. Ulta Beauty (Mary Dillon)
  1. CMS Energy (Patricia Poppe)
  1. Advanced Micro Devices (Lisa Su)
  1. Science Applications International (Nazzic Keene)
  1. Celanese (Lori Ryerkerk)
  1. Zoetis (Kristin Peck)
  1. Williams-Sonoma (Laura Alber)
  1. Commercial Metals (Barbara Smith)
  1. Franklin Resources (Jennifer Johnson)

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