CNN: Meet Fortune 500's female powerbrokers

A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE This week I was asked to comment in a CNN article entitled ‘Meet Fortune 500's female powerbrokers’ This was following the release of Fortune's latest ranking of America's 500 largest corporations which includes more women CEOs than ever before.

Women lead 18 of the 500 companies, including Hewlett-Packard (10th) run by Meg Whitman and IBM (19th) run by Ginni Rometty.

In my role as a founding member of the 30% Club, which encourages company chairs to commit to achieving at least 30% women on UK corporate boards, I believe that while there are a record number of women CEOs in the United States, there are hardly any women on boards.  In the 30% Club, we aim to inspire company leaders to appoint more women to executive and non-executive directorships; improve the pipeline below the board level to widen the talent pool available to business; and support and encourage successful women in business.

The United States doesn't have the same regulatory situation as boards in the UK and parts of Europe. In the UK you can only do two terms on a board, so we are seeing a turnaround for women, whereas in the States, people seem to get on a board and stay for a lifetime, almost and so the pipeline seems blocked forever.

I feel female CEOs can influence the make-up of boards, they can try to influence the chairman of their company by saying, 'Look at the shortlist: How many women are you bringing on?'

They may also indirectly benefit others aspiring to senior positions. A number of women CEOs have children. They are looking to make change and to encourage the pipeline. There will be a few who won't be helpful but the vast majority of women CEOs are doing all they can to encourage other women to go after these jobs.

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