More women now are at C-Levels than five years ago
Women are making inroads in the CIO position and other C-Level jobs - In the largest 1,000 U.S. companies by revenue, as of last month 26% had a woman in the CIO role. There were more women CIOs than CEOs, but significantly fewer than the number of women who held posts as the chief marketing officer (CMO) or chief human resources officer (CHRO).
That does not mean diversity was lacking only among CIOs and their bosses.
According to M. V. Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, at least two thirds of client companies doing CIO searches are requiring the recruiter to include women in the candidate pool. Further, he says, when “all else is equal” between a male candidate and a female one, companies are tending to choose the latter specifically to enhance the diversity of perspectives on the management team.
Janulaitis says, “… where companies state their “must-have” requirements for a CIO, such as experience in the industry, technology, staff development skills, capital management, with a company of similar size and scope, many women candidates outshine their male counterparts”
Indeed, it’s clear that more women are being hired as CIOs are nudging the needle on gender diversity. Five years ago the number of women CIOs among the Fortune 1,000 companies was 16%. By 2020, the proportion had grown to 22% and now is at 26%.
“Companies want to minimize risk,” says the CEO. “And when you get into the subconscious or unspoken aspects of their decision making, they may measure risk [avoidance] as [selecting] individuals they are able to align with and understand, that understand their industry — and maybe even that look like them.”
“I truly believe that at both the C-suite and board levels, there’s a belief that diversity of perspective and experience is beneficial,” Janulaitis says. “They want to find something that’s going to augment and improve what they already have.”
But achieving that end can be challenging. Unfortunately, there are too few women in senior, experienced roles to populate the candidate pools of all diversity-minded companies. So it’s not enough to decide at the CFO level to hire a woman. The relevant decisions must be made and opportunities offered earlier, at the developmental stage of potential finance leaders.
For one thing, companies need to provide more mentors who can share wisdom about things like where to invest time and ways to be motivated, according to Proctor.
For those with leadership potential who prioritize family and stability over always making the best career move, the path to the C-suite may be inherently more difficult in CEO and finance than in other functions, like IT and human resources.